Teide National Park
Mount Teide is more than just a volcano for the local inhabitants – they feel tied to it by a special bond. It is a subtle feeling, as if they had a tiny fragment of the mountain's soul embedded deep inside them. That feeling is especially strong when they have been away from the Island for some time and the first thing they see as their plane approaches Tenerife is Mount Teide rising proudly above the clouds. Few things will move them so deeply because this means coming back home to their roots.
The aborigines already considered it to be a special place, where they would go to worship their gods, as well as crossing it during seasonal migrations to lead their herds to the other end of the Island.
Teide National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts a number of rather impressive records: It contains the third highest volcano in the world; it is the most visited national park in Europe, attracting three million tourists a year, and it is home to the highest peak in Spain, towering 3,718 metres (12,198 feet) high. In actual fact, when measured from its base on the ocean floor, its total height exceeds 7,000 metres (22,900 feet).
There are several ways for you to discover the peak of Mount Teide once you have reached the Park by car or by bus. One of them involves climbing to the summit on foot from Montaña Blanca. The walk takes several hours and includes an overnight stay at the Altavista Refuge in order to begin your final ascent just before dawn. If you would prefer a less demanding option, hop on the modern cable car that drops you off just 200 metres (650 feet) away from the crater. Bear in mind that you will need to apply for a permit to access the crater or to sleep at the Refuge.
But it's not just about the imposing peak – the entire Park is breathtaking. A popular option is to take a walk along its many trails, with roughly twenty to choose from. The Siete Cañadas trail is one of the most highly recommended. You can go to the visitors centres at Cañada Blanca and El Portillo to learn all about the wonders nestled in this fabulous landscape. You will also find a number of interpretation centres and, of course, the Teide National Park information office in La Orotava, where you can learn all about the origin of this incredible volcano at the museum.
From way up on high, you get to indulge in a unique experience: the chance to do some star-gazing through a telescope at 2,000 metres (6,560 feet), which includes dinner and the cable car ride.