The road to Teide
101 people found this review helpful
I've visited Tenerife many times in the Winter, mainly because it has some obvious attributes. The weather is pleasant year round, the sea is warm, it's a relatively short flight from the UK as compared with other late-in-the-year destinations and the nights are acceptably light. Don't we all hate December when the curtains are closed by 4pm, 6.45pm seems positively uplifting by comparison.
I've never ventured to Tenerife's main focal point though, and it's a focal point in more ways than one. I refer of course to Teide, the highest point in Spain and the third tallest volcano in the world. It's 3,781metres to the rim which makes it much higher in metres than Helvellyn is in feet, quite impressive.
I know from visiting online guide sites that the way to visit to Teide is by car, rather than tour bus. If you're confident behind the wheel of an unfamiliar hire vehicle on narrow and twisting roads that is. It's a case of which is the lesser of two evils. I've talked to people who have booked a half day tour to the volcano and spent three hours on the coach, an hour and a half in a queue for the cable car and fifteen minutes not quite at the summit. And at nearly 30 Euros per person to stand in the horrendously crammed funicular, it's not a cheap experience.
Bear in mind also that you might have booked cable car tickets in advance, rushed off the coach to be first in line, only to find that high winds have closed the system. They don't always tell you this on the bus.
As I say, hit-and-miss though the coach excursions are, not everyone will take to navigating themselves there. I've driven abroad several times in my own vehicle and I don't find it an issue at all. The roads tend to be at least as good as ours and because I've always been located away from big cities, they've inevitably been uncrowded. But a hire car in a foreign country is a different proposition as I'm sure many on here will concur. You're not just on the 'wrong' side of the road now, you're on the 'wrong' side of the car. You instinctively go to change gear with your left hand and it takes quite a while to get out of the habit.
Traversing the steep inclines and hairpin turns on the way to Teide in an alien vehicle is best avoided if you're anything less than competent and confident. My attitude was that if a local can get a 28 seater coach up there, I can get a Volkswagon Golf to do the same. Having said that, I was glad I went at a quiet time of the year and I didn't have a speedster behind me hurrying me along!
The great benefit of this method of course is the flexibility, we stopped many times on a whim to take in the unique landscape at leisure. Teide apparently has been used in several movies featuring moon landings, expeditions to Mars etc. It's not hard to see why, in places it's arid, barren and like nothing much else on Earth. Not pleasant or aesthetic, but different. It is what it is.
Again, because of the time of the year, we found parking at the cable car station very easy. People are coming and going all the time and if you're patient you will get in eventually. About a mile away is one of the famous Paradors, a hotel group I've stayed with a few times. You can also park in this area free and the location is the starting point for many walks of different lengths and difficulty. The Parador is a kind of unoffiial visitor centre for Teide National Park. An absolutely superbly located hotel for anyone intent on serious hiking, photography or maybe painting.
We didn't ascend the cable car for a few reasons. I hate queues and although not as bad as I've heard it could be, it still looked like a wait of over an hour which I wasn't prepared to do. Especially as it was cloudy and I didn't think the view would improve with altitude, probably the reverse. And quite a few poor souls who hadn't prepared very well for the summit came back down looking positively hypothermic, it's seldom like basking in a warm bath at 11,000 feet!
There is a cafe cum restaurant adjacent the cable car that serves pretty routine food but with exceptional views if you can bag a window seat. At the risk of repeating myself, our hire car again came to our rescue and we enjoyed the surroundings sat on a wall with a lovely picnic.
Overall Teide was exactly what I expected it to be. Indeed the reason I've never ventured up the volcano previously is because, put bluntly, it's not really my type of thing. When I climb or drive to anything like this altitude I want to see water, and lots of it. So going back to the aforementioned Helvellyn, it might be less than a third of the size, but it has babbling brooks, overlooks a lake and has hiking trails to waterfalls. HEAVEN ! It's obvious you aren't going to get that on a volcano situated on a sun drenched island. Well, outside of the snow melting in late Winter and early Spring. It's a lunar landscape and some people will soon tire of it.
It's something a bit different though from lying by the pool reading a book, and as I say the statistics surrounding it are impressive. I'm glad I've 'done it' but not entirely sure I'll be back, unless as I say I want to see it close up and snow capped. I've kind of convinced myself it looks just as impressive from distance. And you can of course see it from many locations around Tenerife.
Definitely something to put on your list of 'possibilities' though when you get to the twiddling thumbs stage of your holiday.
101 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.