After two days of cycling, we had an opportunity to experience another activity on Tenerife- a hiking trip to Teide National Park.
On the morning of our excursion, news stories began to appear online warning of an imminent eruption from Mount Teide volcano. Our guide Nayra from Teno Activo was quick to allay our fears as we drove towards the National Park. Whilst there had been around 92 micro earthquakes that morning (a precursor to volcanic activity), it was still perfectly safe to visit the area.
Teide National Park is the largest and oldest of the four national parks on the Canary Islands. It covers 18900 hectares with Mount Teide as it’s centrepiece standing at 3718 metres above sea level making it the third largest volcano in the world. You can take the cable car to the top to experience the summit or explore the 30 trails within the park. Professional cyclists including Team Sky also use the National Park for altitude training in an isolated location.
Our drive to the park took us above the clouds through a landscape of lava fields where we stopped briefly for photos. Despite the strong sunshine, the air temperature was noticeably cooler than at our base on the South of the island.
The peak of Teide dominated the landscape and thankfully it was not erupting! Surprisingly, the summit becomes covered in thick snow during the winter. Our guide showed us photos of the area during snowfall and it was difficult to believe that it was Tenerife we were seeing!
Not far from the coach stops is a famous rock formation- the Roque Cinchado of which the image was used on the 1000 Peseta note. Hordes of visitors come simply to photograph this formation then leave without exploring the park. Our group ventured further along the trail and within minutes found ourselves alone in the wilderness. Here, the park is incredibly quiet, in fact we had a moment of silence to appreciate the stillness which surrounded us.
Nayra pointed out the most important features of the park including Pico Viejo which is the second largest peak in Tenerife. We discovered the different types of petrified lava- the smooth dense formations are called Pahoehoe whilst the smaller jagged rocks are known as A’a. The park is also full of a diverse variety of plants which have adapted to the harsh conditions of the area. May and June are the best times of year to visit as the park is covered in thousands of flowers including violets.
The hike took us past a solidified lava waterfall and the rim of a former crater in the distance. The trail itself was fairly flat and easy to navigate, although there is the opportunity for some fantastic rock climbing if you fancy a tougher challenge. It’s difficult to convey the scale of the landscape- you feel incredibly tiny compared to the vastness of the jagged rocks.
The hike came to a perfect end with a delicious picnic prepared by Nayra. We ate tuna empanada, guacamole, goat’s cheese, olives and mojo sauce whilst looking out across the dusty plain.
The three days in Tenerife were over all too quickly- it would have been easy to spend a week here enjoying everything that the island has to offer. I would have loved to try the Stand-Up Paddeboarding which Donna and Sam did. The trip certainly changed my perspective on the island as a destination- there is so much to do when you step off of your sun-lounger.
I was invited to Tenerife as a guest of Thomas Cook Airlines, but all opinions are my own.
Have you been on a hiking trip abroad? What is your favourite active destination?