Teide National Park

If you’re planning a holiday to Tenerife then Teide National Park should definitely be at the top of your list of things to see. To be honest it’s hard not to spot, towering 3,718 metres above sea-level the highest mountain in Spain is the main attraction of the park and is visible from anywhere on the island. Named after its famous giant volcano, Teide National Park is said to be the most visited national park in Spain with approximately 2.8 million guests and in 2010 it was named the most visited national park in Europe. Interestingly the volcano is still classed as ‘active’ although it hasn’t erupted since 1909.

But why is it so popular among tourists? Well there’s a good chance that, being home to the third largest volcano in the world would make the park particularly attractive to the kind of guests who appreciate a spectacular view, breathtaking scenery and a landscape that resembles a lunar surface (much like that of Timanfaya National Park on Lanzarote).

Flora and Fauna

In terms of flora, Teide national park is abundant with life. The nutritional soil caused as a result of lava flow allows a diverse collection of plant species of which an estimated total of 700 have been listed to thrive in the park, almost half of which are endemic to the island. What makes the park of particular interest to those interested in vegetation is how certain species of plant have adapted to the harsh conditions that they are subjected to on the slopes of the volcanoes. Climate, altitude and intense sunlight are just some of the circumstances that the flora which exists in this environment has had to become accustomed to.

In terms of fauna, insects are possibly the only form of wildlife which truly thrives in these harsh conditions. There is a large range of species of spider, beetle and bug of which an estimated 70 species are only found within the Teide National Park. Birds are limited to around 3 common species which reside here and the same is true with reptiles, Canary island lizards, Geckos and Skunks are the only species which can withstand this particular environment.

Interesting facts about the National Park

Due to the interesting relationship between the parks volcanic landscape and that of planet Mars, scientists are able to use Teide National Park as a testing ground for future technology that could possibly be sent to the red planet in years to come. This distinguishable landscape is particularly obvious when you begin to explore the park and might be the closest you’ll get to a walk on Mars itself! As a further result of its outstanding landscape, the park has been featured in a number of films including One Million Years B.C. (1966) and Clash of the Titans (2010).

One of the best ways to enjoy a complete view of the park is to take the Teleférico cable car to just below the summit of Mount Teide; soaring up the side of the volcano is a breathtaking experience and one that shouldn’t be missed during your visit to the park. In order to reach the summit of the mountain you must obtain a free access permit prior to your visit, details of how to apply for a permit are located here.

In addition, midway up the mountain are a number of telescopes dedicated to the Observaciones del Teide – an astronomical observatory that is considered one of the most important visual observatories in the world.

On a different note, the national park is also home to one ‘Parador’ hotel and a small chapel dedicated to the Virgen de las Nieves.

Visitor Centres

  • El Portillo Visitor Centre: If you’re interested in discovering more about the geological side of the park then you should definitely drop in to El Portillo. The visitor centre houses exhibitions covering the environment and life forms which exist in the park as well as an interesting history of the main attraction; Mount Teide itself. There is also a cinema room where guests can watch a short movie explaining how Tenerife evolved into what it is today.
  • Cañada Blanca Visitor Centre:
    Located in close proximity to the Parador Hotel, this visitor centre focuses of mans interaction with the park and the uses of its environment. The visitor centre also houses a map and book shop.

For more information about opening times of the visitor centres visit: www.todotenerife.es