Exploring Tenerife – the Island of Eternal Spring and Mount Teide.
We wanted to explore the Teide National Park so we took a flight into Tenerife in the Canary Islands. We decided to stay in the town of Los Cristianos. This town in the south coast offers good services and has a good harbor with ferries to the other islands. The large beach of Playa de Las Américas is a few steps away. We rented a car here so we could drive all around the island since public transportation schedules are not convenient. If you are interested in exploring the Garojanay National Park in the island of La Gomera, the ferry leaves out of this harbor several times a day.
Tenerife is home to Teide National Park which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most visited National Parks in the world. Mount Teide or El Pico del Teide, is a volcano in the center of the island. Its summit at 3,718 meters makes it one of the highest volcanoes in the World. It remains active but its last eruption occurred in 1909. A risk of destructive eruptions still exists and it is of concern to nearby towns. Just last year, the world almost witnessed the birth of a new island next to the island of El Hierro. That Canary Island a few kilometers West of Tenerife suffered some disruptions as underwater eruptions near the coast forced evacuations.
We gathered hiking maps and other information at the park’s visitor center. We were here at the end of May.”You came to the park at the best time of the year” – the park ranger said. Spring time offers lots of wildflowers in bloom. Our favorite wildflower was the Tajinaste Rojo. Tajinaste (Echium Wildpretii) is a species of flowering plant that grows up to 3 meters in height. The species is endemic to the island of Tenerife, and is found in large numbers in Las Cañadas del Teide. It grows at high altitudes under dry conditions. Red flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Had we visited some other time of the year, we would have missed it.
Everyday we would explore a new area of the park. Our favorite hikes were on the trails of Roques de Garcia, Siete Cañadas, and Samara. I always find it difficult to plan a hike at the right time so the Sun is at the right angle for photography. The best possible light for photography occurs early or late in the day. The information office recommended hiking the Samara trail later in the afternoon. The Sun would be behind us and Mount Teide would be fully illuminated to the East. We walked along this trail for a while but we found ourselves alone without really knowing the area and it was getting late so we returned without going too far. I would recommend using the services of an experienced local guide.