The National Park of Teide is the testing place of the scientific instruments sent to find the life on Mars and the location where the original Planet of the Apes movies was filmed. In other words – a place out of this planet. Even the aboriginal people of the Canarias thought it was the gate of hell. Today, as one of the great wonders of the world, this place should be first on the must-see list for every Tenerife visitor!
Teide National Park is located in the center of the Tenerife Island. It is the largest and oldest of the four national parks in the Spanish Canary Islands. The vast park area of 18,990 hectares has a unique landscape of craters, volcanoes and rivers of petrified lava – and all of this is surrounded by the impressive silhouette of Teide Volcano that rises up to a height of 3,718 m above sea level.
The highest peak in all Spanish regions, Mount Teide dominates the landscape of the national park. This impressive volcano looks a bit different depending on your location and the ongoing season. A sea of volcanic rocks surrounding Mount Teide have formed so recently that erosion has not had time to wear them away. This is why the entire park is truly a unique geological treasure with different volcanic materials forming an impressive array of shapes and colors, including huge rivers of petrified lava and eroded rocks and colossal dimensions of earth minerals scattered around the area.
Erosion has molded some of the rocks into natural stone sculptures, most famous of them being the unusual shaped red rock called Roque Cinchado. It belongs to a lineup of large rock formations, remnants of the former summit of the island, known as Los Roques De García. The 170 000 years old Roque Cinchado is constantly being eroded at its base and will eventually fall down.
The strange, Mars like landscape inside the Canadas caldera has been used in films such as Star Wars and Planet of the Apes. The film makers got their location right – the similarity between the environmental and geological conditions of the Teide National Park and the planet Mars have turned this place as a volcanic reference point for the studies related to the red planet.
Teide national park has only a limited variety of wildlife because of the existing harsh conditions. Ten species of bird are found in the park as well as three endemic reptile species – the Canary Island lizard, wall gecko and skink. Bats are the only mammals native to the park. Other mammals the visitors may encounter, such as mouflon, rabbits, mice and rats, feral cats and Algerian hedgehogs, have all been introduced to the park by humans. The national park has however a huge range of invertebrate fauna, with 70 endemic species of spiders, beetles and other insects.
The lava on the flanks of Teide forms a nutrient and mineral rich soil that supports a diverse number of plant species. The park flora consists of almost 200 plant species, 33 of which are endemic to Tenerife. These plants are adapted to the Teide’s tough environmental conditions such as high altitude, intense sunlight, extreme temperature variations and lack of moisture. Flowering takes place in the late spring or early summer delighting the visitors with gentle aromas – unique in the world.
The national park can be enjoyed with many different ways. Visitors can discover the area with a rental car thanks to a convenient road network across the entire Park. There is also an extensive network of trails for visitors who want to discover the park by foot or with bicycle. Because of its high altitude and stable weather conditions, Teide has become a popular training ground among professional cyclists.
Being away from the light pollution of urban areas, Teide is one of the best and unique places for stargazing. Teide has its own telescopes in the Izaña Observatory located on the Izaña massif, at a height of 2400 meters.
The park has also two visitor centers, a bar and a restaurant and even two types of accommodation, Las Cañadas del Teide Parador Hotel and Altavista Refuge located at an altitude of 3,270 meters.
3 Tips for Teide
- Bring along warmer clothes as it can get colder at the higher altitudes (and the air is thinner) and appropriate footwear
- The flowers are in bloom during May and June. Best time for stargazing is throughout the year
- The best way to reach the highest point of the peak is by cable car. Once at the top, if you wish to reach the mouth of the volcano, you have get permission beforehand from the national park’s office