Canary Islands

Tenerife

Mount Teide - Central Tenerife

To get to Mount Teide from Puerto de la Cruz, or from Santa Cruz, take the TF5 motorway as far as La Laguna then take the exit to La Esperanza on the TF24.

If you intend getting there from the south of Tenerife you'll be approaching from a totally different direction which I have not driven, probably the TF21 which seems the only road to go into the centre!

Once you've left the TF5 motorway things become scenic (and hilly) very quickly.

Lonely Cloud on the way to Teide

It's just 43 kilometres to the volcano, helpfully marked off every so often will mile-markers (well, I suppose they should be called kilometre markers but it doesn't trip of the tongue as easily).

There are a number of scenic viewpoints along the TF24, with space for maybe four to six cars. You can see a beautiful view of Puerto and surrounding sea, but be warned: it gets cold very quickly as you get higher. We started off with about 21C and it dropped eventually to 4C although confusingly it warmed up again to 10C at the foot of Teide!

It was cold up that mountain!

"My 15-year old daughter was absolutely outraged at these prices and would have cheerfully skipped the cable car experience."

You drive through a pretty conifer forest for quite a while, getting higher and higher. Watch out for small rocks on the road as they fall from the mountain side occasionally. Having said that, there was a lot of work going on throughout Tenerife where the side of the roadway on the mountainside was being "netted" to prevent this sort of thing.

The TF24 was a good wide road for the most part, it appears to have been recently re-laid. Do take the time out to stop at at least one lookout point to admire the scenery and the eerie silence (that's if a tour bus isn't parked with its engine running on your particular lookout point).

Eventually you arrive at a T-junction of sorts, where the TF24 on which you're traveling joins the TF21. The TF21 runs from Puerto right past Teide down to the south, but I particularly wanted to have the scenic forest drive that the TF24 afforded me. And hardly a sheer drop in site. At the T-junction turn left towards Teide, but we took a break at the cafe directly opposite the junction (see picture above). They have toilets as well as a large patio area for you to enjoy snacks and a drink, together with a number of captive birds which did not appeal so much to us. We did see our first blue chaffinch here, it was very interested in our food. There is no room to eat indoors, by the way, so even in the cold January air we sat outside with coats, scarves and gloves! It was virtually deserted in January, but the number of tables and patio areas gave an indication of the popularity this cafe enjoys at warmer times of the year.

After driving along the TF21 for a bit you'll see a road to your right that goes to the ski-lift that can take you to within a whisper of the summit. We were very fortunate in finding a parking space just a few meters from the cable car entrance, so get there early if you don't want a long trek up that road.

The ski lift (enclosed cable car) is not for those with vertigo, nor those without deep pockets. At 20 per adult and 10 per child this was not a cheap trip, but having come this far I could not forgo the experience of getting to the top of Teide. My daughter (15 years) was absolutely outraged at these prices and would have cheerfully skipped the experience. That's teenagers for you though!

If you suffer from vertigo don't even think of going in the cable car. If you don't suffer from vertigo or empty pockets then the experience is a fine one, although if you have gone skiing I suspect it will leave you cold (no pun intended). When we eventually (after an hour or more of queuing) got to the top I felt distinctly unwell after just a few steps: a bit sick, woolly-headed and generally "yucky".

Whether it was the altitude per se (10,500 feet or 3,500m) or the sudden change in altitude from 3,000 feet (1,200m) I can't be sure. Whatever, you are only "allowed" 30 minutes at the summit but the fact there is nothing to do but chuck a couple of snowballs and gaze shiveringly at the cloud ceiling below you (known as the sea of clouds, I'm told), more or less ensures you don't spend too long up there. In my case I came down on the very next cable car, and I felt better straightaway. It was still an experience I would not have missed, the views are great indeed.

There's a cafe and restaurant next to the cable car entrance (the one at 3,000 feet not the one at the top of Teide) so you can empty your pockets even further if so inclined, and there were plenty that were doing just that. I declined their kind invitation to spend even more money and returned to Puerto the way we had come after another comfort break at the cafe at the junction of the TF21 and the TF24. I originally wanted to return via the TF21 all the way to Puerto via La Orotava but the map showed a very twisty road so we opted for the delightful conifer forest route instead.

View from the cable car up to Mount Teide, Tenerife

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