Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh, magnificent Teide



Once upon a time the aboriginal inhabitants of Tenerife, the Guanches, considered El Teide a sacred place where evil god Guayota lived. Guayota kidnapped the sun and hid it into El Teide. Meanwhile the Guanches spent a long time living in darkness surrounded by ash clouds and they prayed to their almighty god Achaman and eventually the sun went back to the sky and a huge amount of new rocks were released to the surface. Nowadays, we are perfectly aware of the volcanic nature of El Teide and the story of Guayota and the sun is just a legend. But still, El Teide is a majestic mountain reaching up to the sky with its 3718m above see level and somehow it still looks like a sacred place out of Earth. El Teide is the highest mountain of Spain, the third highest volcano on Earth and it lies in the middle of the National Park Las Cañadas del Teide, the most visited national park in Spain. Besides tourists, Las Cañadas del Teide is also a great attraction for geologists, vulcanologists, biologists and many other scientists who come here to study the many different volcanic formations, as well as the many endemic species of flora and fauna. Las Cañadas del Teide is also a great playground for astronomers, who can enjoy some of the clearest skies at this latitude all year round.





But leaving facts aside and speaking from the heart, El Teide is a magnificent mountain soaring to the sky from the small island of Tenerife and it is probably one of my favourite places on Earth, only rivalling the Alps. When it isn't cloudy or foggy, El Teide can be seen from any point in Tenerife and even from La Gomera or Gran Canaria. The way up is as diverse as Tenerife can be. From the coast upwards, the cities are left behind and then you drive through a pine forest, which is usually covered in clouds. As the road goes up, the clouds stay down and then you can glimpse an amazing sea of clouds beneath your feet. Vegetation starts to fade and volcanic sands and rocks appear everywhere. Surprisingly, the landscape here is really diverse and multicoloured. There are yellow, black, brown, red and green sands among any other hues, and the colours change as the day goes by. By then, you're almost at 2000m above see level and the road goes up a little longer to the national park. In the naional park there are a couple of visitor centres, some restaurants and a rural hotel, so it is possible to spend there the night. A cable car goes up to the summit and once up there you can see the seven canary islands lying on the Atlantic Ocean. There's also another rural hostel to spend the night if you're planning to walk up to the summit.

Sadly, this time I won't be visiting this amazing place, as I'm short on time and temperatures are very high. But next time I will try to finally hike to the summit and enjoy a sunrise on top of the world, because I kind of feel ashamed for having lived here for 24 years and never experienced that incredible trip!

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