After a few days of poolside relaxation, we hired a car to experience some of what Tenerife has to offer.
An hour’s drive away from our hotel, the Gran Melia Palacio de Isora, on the west coast of Tenerife is the spectacular Teide National Park . No visit to Tenerife would be complete without a trip to its most famous and iconic landmark, Mount Teide, the huge volcano that makes up the core of Tenerife.
At an impressive 3,718 metres high it’s the world’s third highest volcano after Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the highest point in Spain. We could see it clearly from our hotel but nothing can prepare you for when you get close to this magnificent location.
On our drive from the west coast along the winding, twisting mountain roads towards Mount Teide was incredible. We passed banana plantations, gorgeous traditional Canarian towns, pine forests until eventually we reached the dramatic lunar landscapes of Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Driving through the park was such a memorable experience passing craters, its dramatic ochre-coloured volcanic dust and rocky terrain with lava flow formations and vents.
It really did feel as though we had left the beaches of Tenerife and arrived on an alien planet, it was a surreal experience like nothing we had seen before – we learned that NASA tested their Mars rover here and I can see why.
There were so many places to stop en-route taking in the sights and photographing parts of Tenerife that lots of visitors miss.
Our Mount Teide for families adventure began at the base of the cable car station where we met our tour guide to embark on our Volcano Teide experience.
We booked a “Mount Teide for Families” excursion online before our holiday which was a private 2 ½ hour guided tour of the volcano to one of its most dramatic viewpoints of the Pico Viejo crater.
After a short safety briefing we were given our own earpiece that enabled each of us to hear our guide’s commentary during our adventure and we made our way to the cable car.
The 8 minute cable car journey (which can hold up to 44 people) takes you through the clouds to within 500 metres of the summit of the volcano and the views and the experience was amazing.
Teide National Park is spectacular from below but as you step out of the cable car onto the upper viewing station, the views are amazing. You are literally on top of the world.
We could see most of the other Canary Islands in the distance along with the majestic sight of the sea of clouds, an amazing natural phenomenon.
Like most visitors to the volcano, who travel up from the coast, we noticed the dramatic drop in temperature. The colder air hits you as you step out of the cable car at the upper station.
Luckily the concierge in our hotel informed us before we left that current temperatures at the summit were around 17 degrees lower than what we had been experiencing by the swimming pool, so we packed the appropriate warm clothing and comfortable footwear – flip flops simply don’t cut it at these temperatures and terrain!
This was the benefit of booking this Volcano Teide excursion, many visitors just take the cable car to the top stop for a few photos and then catch it back down to the visitor centre, but they are missing out on so much more of what Mount Teide has to offer.
We started our mile hike along the rocky trail, passing seismic equipment used to check for volcanic activity, with its alien like landscape, you could easily imagine yourself on Mars.
Our guide mentioned that the US astronaut Neil Armstrong referred to Mount Teide National Park as the closest thing he had seem to a lunar landscape and I can see why.
As our trail led us past the contrasting shapes and colours of volcanic rocks and dark brown lava flows, the girls were fascinated, asking why they could smell rotten eggs which we were told were bursts of sulphur coming from the ground below.
What was also noticeable was that the air is much thinner with 30% less oxygen at the top, so we could certainly feel the difference when walking to the Pico Viejo viewpoint, catching your breath at the various stops we made to take in the stunning viewpoints.
It’s surprising just how the thinner air affects you as my fit and active husband felt lightheaded during the trek.
Our guide was really informative and knowledgeable and told us that the entire region is still active and last erupted in 1909.
It was so educational and fascinating for the children, as our guide told us everything we needed to know about the volcano.
Holly was convinced that there is a Yeti living at the top of the Volcano and that he throws rocks and lava so the girls were transfixed when he told them traditional tales of Mount Teide of how the Guanches – the native inhabitants of Tenerife believed in gods and magic.
At the end of the trail we reached the viewpoint displaying the multi-coloured crater of Pico Viejo volcano the second highest Volcano in the Canary Islands.
The guide told us that the huge 800 metre diameter crater was once filled with lava. In the distance we could also see the island of La Gomera. Our photos don’t do it justice as the views were just breathtaking.
We made it back to the upper cable car station waiting for return leg of the journey back down the volcano.
At the visitor centre there are toilets, a restaurant, a coffee shop and a small souvenir shop. Of course we stopped off for a quick drink and snack. I doubt there are many cafes with views as stunning as this from their windows.
After looking at the lizards on the rocks outside the visitor centre, we drove to one of the most popular spots of the National Park – the oddly shaped rock formations known as Los Roques de Garcia.
We really didn’t know what to expect as we explored the area. My husband had to coax us out of the car but I’m so glad he did as we were rewarded with one of the best vantage points of Mount Teide.
At 2,000 metres above sea level you are actually above the tree line so the landscape is stark with its rocky desert, you could be forgiven thinking that you were in Arizona and the girls loved having fun on the rocks.
Visiting Teide National Park and taking the excursion at the top of Mount Teide is highly recommended, it was one of the highlights of our trip to Tenerife. In fact it was one of the most memorable trips we have done as a family. After all, how often do you get to walk at the top of an active volcano?
The Mount Teide tour for families when we visited was priced at €34.00 per adult and €28.50 per child. View the latest pricing and availability here for volcanoteide.com.