Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tenerife - Ascending El Teide

As we sat on our balcony having a bit of breakfast, we looked out at El Teide, our destination for the day.
We took to the winding roads up the mountain to the base of the volcano.  The drive took about an hour and 15 minutes from Puerto de la Cruz.
We could see El Teide looming in the distance.
We were soon at the lower cable car station waiting for our transport to the top.
Here it comes!
On board, we surveyed the scene below us on the 10 minute ride to the top.
We could see our shadow is the scrubby landscape below.
The cable car moving in the opposite direction counter-balanced our ride.
Higher and higher we went.  The landscape became more rocky and less green the further we went.
At the upper cable car station, we stepped out onto the platform and admired the view.  While we weren't at the tippy top, we had quite a vantage point.  El Teide is the third highest volcano in the world and tops out at 12,000+ feet.
We surveyed the various hiking trails in the shadow of El Teide.  We opted for the Pico Vieja trail.
The trail led out into the black lava field that had cool years ago into sharp stones.
We could see the ocean shining in the distance.
The well-marked path zigged back and forth.
We stopped to admire a seemingly out of place white rock.
Larger rock formations stood out against the dramatic backdrop.
The crater of Pico Vieja (old peak) came into focus.
Behind us, we looked up at the new peak of El Teide.
We arrived at the viewpoint after about 15 minutes and drank in the grandeur of the spot.  The trail actually continued down to the road below (a 6 hour hike!) on a very rough trail.
We walked down another 100 yards or so and sat for a bite of lunch.  We had the place to ourselves even as other tourists continued to snap photos at the viewpoint above.
We could see the west end of Tenerife and El Hierro and La Gomera (two of the other Canary Islands in the distance).
We took one last look at Pico Vieja and then hiked the trail back to the cable car station.
En route, we spotted a sulfurous fumarole.
The panoramic views were amazing!
We decided to do one more small hike from the cable car station on the Fortaleza Viewpoint Trail.
We were rewarded with even more stunning views of El Teide.
This trail was a little easier than Pico Vieja but the nearby scenery was even more intense and rocky.
We could see someone on the peak of El Teide - one of the limited number of visitors with a permit to hike to the top.
We looked at the lava field below - very impressive from above.
With that, we turned around and headed back to the cable car for the ride back to the base of El Teide.
El Teide is a must-do for any visitor to Tenerife - you won't be disappointed!

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