Mount Teide: A Complete Guide Hiking Tenerife’s Vulcano

Written by

Gabor Boszormenyi

tenerife

I visited Tenerife to explore the island and hike Spain’s Vulcano Mount Teide; that seemed an easy thing to do, but we were facing some difficulties with my friends.

I will tell you the whole story and give you tips on preparing yourself for such a hike.

Before we get to the hike itself, it’s important to tell some basic things. Firstly, Let’s see first where Tenerife is located.

Let’s dive in.

Location

Tenerife is situated in the west of Africa on the Atlantic ocean, and it’s part of the Canary Islands. 

The island was formed 40000 years ago by the volcano Mount Teide that still dominates Tenerife’s landscape. If you wanna read a scientific explanation, read this article.

The capital city is Santa Cruz, such a lively name, and it sounds familiar. Ohh yeah, the skateboard brand. Funny and excellent at the same time.

Weather

When I first heard about the island in 2010, everyone referred to it as the forever spring island. And it is, the temperature is excellent all year.

When I visited in January, the heat was close to 30 Celsius during the day, although it turned chilly by night.

Since it’s the Atlantic ocean, don’t expect warm water on the beaches. The temperature of the sea is around 18-20c all year round.

The south part of the island is usually dry, and you will find brown sandy beaches there. On the opposite, the north part is vibrant green and often rains. And it was just like we expected.

But what is the best time to visit this tropical island?

If you want to enjoy the beaches for a general vacation, you should visit from May until October, when the average temperature is 24C-26C 75-79F.

If you are a hiker, I would suggest coming during the winter since the temperature is more bearable; it’s around 18-20C 64-68F which is the perfect temperature for hiking.

Where to stay?

We rented a very nice little place from a local artist. I like to support the local people wherever I go, so I tend to use Airbnb. 

You can find cheap houses if you are not staying in Santa Cruz. Our stay was 300 euro for 10 days for the 4 of us.

Don’t expect anything fancy for this price, although we even had a rooftop, perfect for hangouts and grilling in our stay.

Going to list a few if you are looking for a similarly low-budget stay.

How to get to the island?

You can visit the island by plane there are multiply charters every day from Madrid. The flight time is approximately 2 hours. And the landing is through an epic valley with a perfect view of the surrounding mountains.

The best option to explore the island is with a car. There are plenty of affordable options, so make sure you find a deal before your visit.

Preparation for Mount Teide

Now that you know a little more about Tenerife, it’s time to talk about the preparations and all the necessary gear for the hike to Mount Teide.

Let’s start planning the journey from start to finish:

It’s important to say that while the temperature is 20-25C in the valley, it was -3C at the top. See this illustration of the temperature drops in the mountains.

As altitude increases under normal atmospheric conditions, air temperature drops between 1°C and 3°C for every 1,000ft (300m) height gained.

Temperature drop
  • Hiking shoes
  • Short and warm Trousers
  • Polars
  • Windproof jacket
  • Warm jacket
  • Hat or beanie
  • Gloves
  • Trekking poles
  • Water & food

If you have heart problems, definitely check with your doctor before this trip.

The hike is going to be 6 hours until the Refuge, although it depends on your speed and .

You need a hiking permit to get to the top of Mount Teide. Reserve your spot in Altavista Reuge a month before your visit, and the price will include one night stay in the refuge, and you also get the permit to get to the top of the volcano.

The hike

This whole journey to the top takes two days since it’s a relatively high Vulcano that you will stay one night in a mountain hut around 3200 meters, then continue the ascend in the next morning. 

You don’t need to start from sea level, although you can do it if you are into a bigger adventure.

We started our hike from this parking lot near the cable cars. It’s already at 2200 meters, but believe me, it’s going to be a long hike.

safgag

I am going to divide the journey into four parts.

First part

We started from a small parking lot where you can leave your car. This is where we will come back on the next day with the cable car. 

The beginning of the walk is next to the road you just drove on. We walked 2 kilometers to the starting point of the trail.

mount teide

There is a big billboard marking the beginning of the hike and explaining the journey and what you can expect during the trial. The map also marks the important stages and Altavista Refuge and the elevation gain up to the top.

Sendero de Montaña Blanca starting point

Moving along and start ascending in this strange mars-like environment. The landscape is pretty much barren all around which gives some opportunities for minimalistic photography if you will.

We stopped around 2600 meters to have some lunch and fuel up ourselves for the rest of the hike while we enjoyed the simply yet elegant landscape.

Did you know that several big Hollywood movies such as Star wars and the Planet of the Apes were shot here? I guess directors have also seen the potential in these strange landscapes. 

Second part

The second part is getting more interesting as we pass by these vast rocks that are actually solid magma that landed kilometers away from the top. 

Some of these rocks are taller than 2 meters. And when I was thinking about them fell from the sky, I wasn’t that happy. Although it gives you adrenaline at the same time. 🙂 If you are a bit crazy like me.

The terrain here is still relatively easy, not so steep, so I took some pictures of the enormous rocks and moved on to the third section.

It’s just me dividing into those sections. They don’t have any specific names, as far as I know. I thought it will be easier to keep track of the trail.

Third part

So the imaginary third section is getting more challenging as we are approaching 2800 meters, the air is getting thinner, making it more challenging to hike and breathe.

Somehow the vegetation is getting more exciting. We see lots of bushes, at least the atmosphere is a bit more exciting, and we run into other hikers.

mount teide trail
mount teide tril
mount teide trail

The hike is getting more complex. I just put my foot in front of another, and I am focusing on my breathing. We are moving really slow to keep up the move.

Important note

If you experience hefty breathing, headache, and intense dizziness, you probably have altitude sickness. In this case, it’s better to turn back and slowly descend back to the starting point.

Altitude sickness is a serious thing. Make sure you are in good condition before you take the mount Teide hike.

Symptoms generally appear above 3000 meters, but the signs can come earlier.

You can take some medicines that speed up how fast your body gets used to the higher altitude. Nifedipine (Procardia) and dexamethasone are also used for altitude sickness.

Now back to the hike.

As we are getting closer to the hut, the trail is getting steeper. It’s more like a serpentine, and we are really just focusing on ascending slowly. My heart rate is getting higher as we going above 3000 meters.

Arriving to the Alta vista Refuge

I haven’t taken pictures during the third section before arriving at the hut around 5 pm. So actually, we completed the main part in 5 hours.

We enjoyed the landscape, and I took some photos of this Mars-like environment. Love the simplicity of the view, yet strange at the same time.

mount teide
View from the Refuge

The Altavista Refuge is at 3260 meters which means we are only 450 meters from the top. 

You can only stay one night in the refuge, and you need to reserve your stay at least one month before your arrival.

Altavista del Teide Refuge consists of two buildings and is equipped with a first-aid room, dining room, and kitchen. It has three dormitories with a total capacity of 54 people. The rooms are heated, and beds are fully equipped with sheets and warm quilts, so you don’t have to bring a sleeping bag. It has toilets and washbasins, without showers.

We had a good conversation with my friends while we were enjoying our dinner in the kitchen. We finished, and it was time to go to bed because to get to the top before sunset, we need to get up at 4am. So we went back to the dorms and tried to sleep.

It’s a bit difficult to rest when your resting pulse is continuously at 120/min. Although we managed to sleep a few hours.

At 3:30, I couldn’t sleep more, so I woke up and went to eat something; I needed the energy for the last part. 

Headlamps on, let’s start the hike in the dark.

The amount of stars you can see here is incredible. The dark sky and the fact that we are at 3400 meters make the stars fall on you.

At some part of the trail, you can see the little towns along the coastline. They literally look like, as you see it from a plane. Yeah, we are high, very high, in pitch black, on a Vulcano, and it’s cold. Whose idea was this? What are we doing here?

We raised some legit questions after few hours of sleep, getting closer to the top around 5am 🙂

But it’s fun, it’s exciting, adventurous and fascinating in the same time.

One thing I forgot to say the temperature dropped significantly. It’s only 2 Celsius, so it was quite freezing after the sunny 26 C in the valleys. Especially my friend Peter who forgot to bring trousers, so he was hiking in shorts. Clever idea. Good job!

We almost had to turn back because he was freezing a lot. But we convinced him to continue the hike, and it was only 150 meters left anyway.

It’s still dark, but you can already see some colors in the sky. The wind starts to kick in, which doesn’t make the air warmer. Not for Peter’s legs. Poor guy. Only a few meters. Hold on, my friend!

As we are approaching the top, you can see tiny lights on the trail. Those are the hiker’s headlamps. So much fun, we are almost there.

As we are approaching the peak, we notice some weird smell and smoke coming from the rocks. The mountain is alive; it’s still active.

Some thermal heat points come from the Vulcano that were perfect for warming us up while waiting for the sunset. Peter was happy; everyone is using these spots to warm their hands and feet.

On the Top of Mount Teide

And we finally made and managed before sunrise. We have arrived at 3720 meters on top of Spain’s tallest mountain the Mount Teide.

mount teide

Just a few minutes after the sunset, we finally can enjoy what we came for, and it’s called the triangle shadow phenomena. It’s a common view from high mountains, they say.

mount teide

Basically, it’s the shadow of the Vulcano as it reflects on the atmosphere. It’s a pretty exciting thing to experience.

I hope you enjoyed this hike, don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter to get notified for the next adventure and share this article with your friends.

Have a safe hike!

About me

My name is Gabor, I am a User Interface designer & adventure photographer. I'm constantly seeking new challenges, whether it's in the mountains or on remote islands.

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