Roadway to heaven
Teide National Park
Tenerife is so special that even Mount Teide chose to call it home. Surrounded by a unique landscape, this mighty volcano towering 3,718 m (12,198 ft) high is the heart of the National Park that bears its name, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
As you make the climb along any of the roads approaching it, either from the north or south of the Island, the landscape and weather gradually transform. To reach the Park, you will journey through lush vegetation. You will switch from the warm seaside sun to dense Canarian pine forests where the clouds appear to be tangled in the tree tops, then back out into the sun again. The landscape in the National Park is truly unique, almost moon-like, and can be explored on foot along a variety of trails. The Ucanca Valley is particularly magical. All around its plains, the volcanic ground is decorated by lava in unthinkable shapes and unimaginable colours.
Mount Teide has a host of loyal friends: the rock formations of Roques de García. They have grown together, side by side, and create a scene that you mustn't miss on your trip. The most recognisable is the Roque Cinchado, which appears to defy the laws of gravity on a daily basis.
But don't stop there – the peak of Mount Teide awaits! At the foot of the volcano, you will find a modern cable car that will take you to the top, just 200 metres from the peak. To reach the summit, you'll have to finish your climb on foot, but only after obtaining permission from the Park's offices in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Every year, Mount Teide blesses Tenerife with an almost unthinkable sight for such a warm Island: a snowy crown.
The Teide National Park is also home to more than fifty different species of plants and animals. Some of the most noteworthy are the red and blue bugloss and the Teide Violet, both of which are native species and are exclusively found in the Park.
In winter months, the summit is coated in a soft blanket of snow, and often the whole park is painted white. Snow and lava are the perfect combination. What more could you ask for?
The brightness of the stars here will make you feel like you can reach out and touch them. Spending a night at the National Parador hotel, at the foot of the volcano, is a magical experience. The sky is so clear, even at night, that it's like standing under a film set. That's why the Teide National Park ranks among the world's best places for stargazing. Looking up into the Island's skies, you will see more celestial bodies than anywhere else in Europe.
Make sure you go to the Portillo Visitors Centre before leaving the Park. There, you'll find a recreation of the inside of a volcanic tube, as well all sorts of interesting facts regarding the flora, fauna, geology and weather in the National Park.