Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 28.26910°N / 16.6338°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 10, 2008
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Fall


Pico del Teide
Pico del Teide from a distance
Summer was over, but I really needed a fresh dose of the outdoors. So, where to go, late in season? The mountain refuges in the Alps were closed, and the fresh snow would make things a lot more serious and dangerous, so that was out. In fact, the days were getting shorter already, so northern and central Europe were out as well. The southern hemisphere was too early. Southern Europe perhaps? Northern Africa? Anywhere in the tropics? 
Cloud cover on the northern coastline of Tenerife
Cloud cover along the northern coast

How I came to look at the Canary Islands, I'm not sure anymore, but somehow I did. I had heard a little about them, as a hiking destination that is, but never paid close attention, thinking the Canaries were mainly for beach type holidays. However, that changed as soon as I started reading about them: I quickly learned that there was some great hiking to be had on several of the islands, and as icing on the cake, there was Pico del Teide, a huge volcano that was just begging me to come and climb it!

So, I booked a flight, packed my bag and by the end of September I was on my way to Tenerife.

La Fortaleza

La Fortaleza
La Fortaleza

The high point of the trip was to be climbing Pico del Teide. However, I wanted to save that for last. And so started my long detour.
The first week I hiked on the neighboring island of La Palma. A beautiful island, especially when the weather cooperates - which it did on some days anyway. The peaks are just over 2000 m there, so that helps a bit with acclimatization.
Back on Tenerife, it was all about Teide national park. Not to overdo it, the first hike was in the forest on the northern slopes, with the occasional view on Teide, and a visit to La Fortaleza.

Hiking las Cañadas del Teide

Pico del Teide
Pico del Teide from Las Cañadas del Teide, not far from El Portillo
Next day I rode the 'guagua', as the locals call the bus, from Puerto de la Cruz to the visitor center of El Portillo, from where I hiked along the south eastern crater rim of Las Cañadas del Teide, to the Parador. This day was a long and very dry one. Las Cañadas del Teide is a true desert. Any moisture coming from the Atlantic out west that isn't dropped on La Palma will end up on the slopes of Tenerife, but not reach Las Cañadas, which lie over 2000 m. Fortunately, I came prepared and carried plenty of water.
Hiking for hours on end sure brings home the size of the crater. This volcano must have been gigantic! In comparison, Pico del Teide, at 3718 m, a new volcano on what must once have been the north side of the crater, is just a baby.

Sure, the Parador is a bit expensive, but I wanted to sleep high one more night before aiming for Pico del Teide.

Skyline Skyline of the south east rim of Las Cañadas del Teide

Roques de Garcia

The unexpected added bonus of staying at the parador, was being around Roques de Garcia at sunset, taking pictures like there was no tomorrow!

Roques de Garcia Roques de Garcia Roque Chinchado Anybody up for a wee bit of crack climbing? Roques de Garcia La Catedral Roques de Garcia
Moon over La Catedral Roques de Garcia and Teide La Catedral Roques de Garcia Roques de Garcia
Roques de Garcia Roques de Garcia and Pico del Teide Roques de Garcia Roques de Garcia Roque Chinchado at dusk

The parador was really luxurious, and dinner excellent. Not my natural habitat, but nice anyway, for a change.

Refugio Altavista

Roque Chinchado sunrise series, 1 First rays
Roque Chinchado sunrise series, 2 Half way there
Roque Chinchado sunrise series, 3 Sunrise!

Pico del Teide at sunrise
Pico del Teide in the early morning sun
Next morning I was up early again, and shot a couple more of the Roque Chinchado at sunrise, before crossing the Cañadas again on my way to Refugio Altavista, which is conveniently located high (at 3270 m) on the slopes of Pico del Teide.

High up at the refuge, the size of the huge Cañadas del Teide hits home once again. And this picture doesn't even show half of it!

Sunset on Las Cañadas del Teide, Tenerife

With 25 people or so, the refuge was about half full, so there was plenty of room. About half of the guests belonged to a guided hiking group. Of course, everybody in there had the same goal: the summit of Pico del Teide by sunrise. There was a nice atmosphere and I chatted with several other hikers.

Pico del Teide throwing its shadow on Las Cañadas
Pico del Teide throwing its shadow over the Cañadas

Summit day

Getting started isn't my strong suit. Although I actually woke up even before anybody got out of bed, I ended up being the last one to leave the refuge. Is it my fault that I like to take my time for a proper breakfast? Anyway, I was late, and wanted to reach the summit before sunrise, so I set a good pace right from the start. Being acclimatized soon paid dividends as I passed the guided group. Of course, a group only goes as fast as the slowest member...
At 3550 m, the trail reaches the terminal station of the cable car, La Rambleta. According to the rules, hiking to the summit from the refugio is allowed only when you're back at La Rambleta before 9 am, when the cable car starts running. If you want to be on the summit for sunrise, that's no problem at all.

As I was on the summit, waiting for the sunrise, other hikers joined the club, however, much less than there had been in the refuge. From some of the others I learned that the guide of the group decided not to hike the last bit, because there was too much wind, and some of the independent hikers followed suit.
I totally respect that decision. As a guide, he has the responsibility for the whole group. At the same time, I was really glad that I was not part of that group myself, because I would have been really disappointed. And, yes, it was windy - and well below freezing too - but it didn't feel as if I might be blown off the mountain and I was comfortable with that.

Pico Viejo

There is only one trail to the summit, from La Rambleta, and from there, there are but a few trails down. I had decided to take the long way down, passing by Pico Viejo - which, despite its name, is actually much younger than Pico del Teide. I teamed up with several other hikers I had met the previous night. In retrospect that was a good idea, because the trail proved to be very rough, and you wouldn't want to be alone in case of a problem. Carefully we descended the sharp rocks.

Down from Pico Viejo, the trail wasn't too bad. Not very clearly marked, mind you, but the terrain on the west side of the park wasn't all that difficult.
Pico del Teide
Looking back from Pico Viejo

To the coast

I was hoping to reach Masca, but that just proved to much for one day. In the end, I managed to reach Santiago del Teide with very tired feet, only to discover that there was no hotel or room for rent of any sort there! There was only a very bleak looking camp ground just next to the town, quite unappealling. I ate something in the local cafe, and was advised to try Puerto Santiago on the coast instead. So, I took the last 'guagua' of the day and found myself back in civilization late in the evening. Puerto Santiago turned out to be a bit of an upscale beach town. Eventually, I found an affordable place to stay and relax.

The day after, I couldn't just do nothing. My feet were all right again, and to loosen up my leg muscles, I hiked down Masca canyon real leasurely, and that was it. Time to fly back home.

Adiós, Islas Canarias, hasta la proxima!

Red Tape

There are strict rules in the Teide national park, and they are enforced too. Some that I had to contend with were:

No camping

Even though I carried a tent - I needed it on La Palma - pitching it in the park is not allowed, so I didn't. It's possible to camp outside the park, and while I'm not sure that that's allowed either, being in the pine forest, you won't damage any fragile environment. Finding water will be a real problem though. In fact, I didn't use my tent at all on Tenerife, only on La Palma.

Stay on the trails

New growth

From looking at the map, I figured that going off trail at a certain point might make for an interesting hike. So, I popped into the visitor center at El Portillo to ask about that. The rangers were very clear: it's not allowed to leave the trails! And so I complied - until a few days later, when I found myself in the sandy western part of the Cañadas, where the trail got more and more faint until it finally just petered out! From that point, I just went by map and compass for an hour or so, until I reached a clear trail once again, shortly after I saw the first tree. That part of the Cañadas is relatively flat, sandy with a few rocks and even fewer shrubs, so going off trail won't cause much erosion.

Climbing Pico del Teide

Normally, to climb Pico del Teide requires a special permit. Without it, you're not allowed higher than La Rambleta, the summit station of the cable car at 3550 m. In 2008, this permit had to be collected in person in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Most inconvenient of course, especially if you were to find out about that only when you just got to La Rambleta. I guess that this inconvenience is not accidental: it drastically limits the number of people climbing to the summit, thereby protecting the mountain from erosion.
A notable alternative to climbing with a permit is to climb Pico del Teide real early: as long as you're back down from the summit to 3550 m, that's fine. The best way to do this is to sleep at Refugio Altavista and get up well before sunrise. The added bonus to that is that you can get to experience the sunrise on the summit, and that's always a special occasion to witness!
And, by the way, it only takes a phone call to make a resevation at the refuge. How's that for red tape!


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-20 of 20

rgg - Nov 20, 2010 4:58 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Beautiful!

Oh yes, this really is a beautiful national park. And not just for the peak, which was special, but las Cañadas are impressive too.

ojo - Nov 20, 2010 12:48 pm - Voted 10/10

Super work.

You've been working hard on this! - well done.. very good layout and wonderful photos.


rgg - Nov 20, 2010 5:00 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Super work.

Thanks, and yes, I have been working on this for a while - you already saw glimpses of it ;-).


EricChu - Nov 20, 2010 2:51 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellent trip report!

The layout is very good, the photos are fantastic and you wrote us a very good report that one really reads!


rgg - Nov 20, 2010 5:08 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent trip report!

Thanks, glad you liked the story. I think I'm starting to get the hang HTML and how SP deals with it.
Cheers, Rob


kamil - Nov 21, 2010 6:40 am - Voted 10/10


Een heel mooie vakantie en TR!
You went full monty with the all-round Tenerife hiking, lucky you. I just had 1 day for the Teide hike last summer. In fact it was my 2nd attempt, having been beaten by red tape the year before. I'll post my TR soon too.
You've got the grip of html real quick BTW, I like your arrangement of photos!


rgg - Nov 21, 2010 11:04 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Gefeliciteerd!

Thanks! However, I wouldn't say I saw all of Tenerife. I could easily spend another hiking holiday there, and I just might do that someday, this time combined with La Gomera or El Hierro.
Fortunately, I had learned out about the red tape before I went there, which is why I made a reservation at the refugio.


peninsula - Nov 21, 2010 7:24 pm - Voted 10/10


Nothing like a good dose of spontaneity! Fun story, thanks for sharing


rgg - Nov 21, 2010 8:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Spontaneous

Mind you, I went on very short notice, but not unprepared. Of course I browsed SP before booking a flight - there are truly excellent pages covering Tenerife! And after that, I made some inquiries about the permit and ended up with a booking in the refuge. That's it, no other reservations. I figured, I carry tent ...


Proterra - Nov 22, 2010 6:42 am - Voted 10/10


Staat al gans lang op mijn verlanglijstje. En ik wist niet dat wanneer je er keivroeg uit je bed kwam, je het gewoon kon beklimmen. Ik stelde me altijd iets vergelijkbaars met Etna in 2005 voor; wachten tot parkwachters naar huis gingen en dan gewoon zwartklimmen... Veel dank voor die nieuwe informatie...


rgg - Nov 22, 2010 7:32 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Teide

De beklimming is simpel, maar het is een hele mooie berg, wat mij betreft staat hij terecht op je lijstje. De afdaling langs Pico Viejo is een aanrader.

Bij het lezen van tevoren kwam ik allerlei informatie tegen over die permit. Niet overal stond hetzelfde, maar het was wel duidelijk dat het zonder permit niet mocht en dat daar ook streng op werd toegezien. In de refugio vertelde de waard dat het betalingsbewijs voor de overnachting ook voldoende was om vroeg in de morgen de top te beklimmen, maar niemand heeft me daar verder nog naar gevraagd, ik kon zo doorlopen. Logisch, de rangers komen natuurlijk ook pas met de eerste lift naar boven.

Ik heb niet nagevraagd of het ook is toegestaan om de beklimming te doen nadat de kabelbaan aan het eind van de middag is gestopt, want ik vind het prachtig om bij zonsopgang boven op een berg te zitten. Als er geen controle meer is, kan het natuurlijk gemakkelijk. Alleen moet je daarna wel vrij laat weer helemaal naar beneden zien te komen en dat kan gevaarlijk worden. In de schemering is de route langs Pico Viejo veel te riskant, en ook de normale route, langs de refugio, zou ik liever niet in het donker afdalen.


kamil - Nov 22, 2010 10:15 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Teide

Afgelopen zomer wandelde ik alle weg van het zuid-west via Pico Viejo en 'zwartklom' (als Proterra zagt) de top bij zonsondergang, het was ook heel prachtig, en gelukkig de rangers waren daar niet meer. Ik bleef niet op de refugio en ging naar mijn auto op Montana Blanca in het donker. Ik heb geen idea als dit is legal of niet - ik verkoos niet te vragen :)

Sierra Ledge Rat

Sierra Ledge Rat - Nov 22, 2010 8:15 pm - Voted 10/10


I always wanted to go there - for caving!


rgg - Nov 22, 2010 8:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Wonderful

Have to admit, I didn't know there was caving to be had on Tenerife, but your comment made me check, and I found some interesting info on it in the Teno range. That makes the Canary Islands even more diverse!

For the time being, I'll stick to above ground adventures - though you never know what the future brings - but good luck on your trip.


Mountain_girl - Nov 22, 2010 9:40 pm - Voted 10/10


That's a very nice report. Thanks for sharing! I also went to Tenerife a few years ago and was super happy that there is more to do than beaches there :) But I unfortunately did not manage to get a permit to go all the way to the top of Teide.


rgg - Nov 22, 2010 11:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Cool!

Ah well, there's always a next time.

Rick B

Rick B - Oct 8, 2012 10:43 am - Voted 10/10

Great Trip Report

.. and great photos. Some good inspiration for next year's autumn holiday perhaps :-)




rgg - Oct 9, 2012 2:07 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great Trip Report

Thanks. I still vividly remember the experience of being on top of that volcano at sunrise. Highly recommended!


HikingMan - Aug 7, 2018 7:57 am - Hasn't voted

Great job, and thanks

You did a wonderfully thorough job on your summit post. Thanks so much.


rgg - Aug 10, 2018 1:08 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great job, and thanks

Thanks for the compliment.
Cheers, Rob

Viewing: 1-20 of 20



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