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On the top of Teide

I couldn't shake the feeling of 'half success' by not having been on the top of Teide. I was very close the first time yet I didn't make it to the top and I felt I left something unfinished, so in the back of my head, I was planning my return over the summer. I already knew the altitude would get me on the way up and that it would be a tedious and arduous walk whether I did it by day or by night. But I remember, I was gliding on the way down with agility, so I conjured up a new hiking plan and waited patiently for the time to come. The summer was extremely hot, not a good time to hike for hours in the daytime, fully exposed to the burning sun. In mid-August, there was even a huge wildfire that began in a forested area at the foot of the Mount Teide volcano and that burned for 10 days. Authorities closed the roads and blocked access to Teide Park until the area was safe again. Then eventually in September the temperature slightly dropped, the roads opened up, and when one of my new co-livers and another friend of mine expressed their desire to hike the volcano, I started to organise my second date with the highest point in Spain.

My hiking buddies were Richi and Kathi. Richi has been on Teide a few times, he's been on the island for 7 years, but Kathi was a tourist in Tenerife and she needed extra layers of clothing and a couple of hiking gear to be able to come with us. We could lend her everything she needed, except for the shoes and she ended up hiking in her Converse. I remember lovingly congratulating her on completing the hike in those shoes at the end of our trip.

Richi was a great guide! He was very attentive to our needs and kept informing us about the weather conditions before we began our hike. He kept showering us with smiles and positive words when he learned that at the weekend it was going to be the best weather with a clear sky and no wind on the top of the volcano. He also booked the permit for us for the last leg of the trip. The permit is free btw but you have to book it online. Some spiritual aspects and divine timing also played a part in our successful trip. We heard intimidating cable car stories such as "it's difficult to find a ticket because it's always fully booked and the waiting time is 2 months", or "it's not open due to bad weather conditions" (apparently it works only about 100 days from the 365 due to unsafe weather conditions). We didn't have an issue with it, though. The cable car was open, with many available spots for the weekend, the permit was granted after the first try, and even the very few parking spots at the end of the hiking route were almost empty when we arrived, so we could easily park. Everything was aligned and flowed effortlessly. Also, there were only two other hikers on the top, who left soon after we arrived, and we had the entire top of Teide and the spectacular view for just ourselves in a T-shirt! Being on the top in a tee is super rare, as the temperature is usually around 0°C, so feeling warm enough (or more like sweaty and hot from the steep uphill hike) to drop my jacket was INSANE!

So we planned to take one of the last cable cars and spend some time in the height of the drop-off point to adapt to the altitude before we set out to hike the last part where the permit was needed. Then watch the sunset (on the top or on the way down, we wanted to be spontaneous) and go down on foot. I estimated our arrival to the car at midnight-ish. Everything went according to plan, we were so good!

I recommend everyone to try the cable car, either on the way up or down, because it's a super fun 8-minute ride. And the view is amazing! When you arrive at the upper base camp (located at an altitude of 3,555 metres), where the cable car drops you off, from here you only hike 160 m to the top (3715 m). For this part, you need the permit. This is the last leg of the trip to the summit. It is approx. a 40-minute uphill hike to the very top. This distance of 160 m would take about 2 minutes on a flat surface but here due to the altitude and the steep uphill conditions, took Kathi and me 40 minutes or so. Richi, however, was a race car, he was way ahead of us. I think he could do it in 20 minutes.

What's special about the Teide shadow?

The projection of the gigantic shadow of Teide hanging over sunrise and sunset, which, thanks to its height and the fact that all its horizons are free, is the largest shadow in the world projected onto the sea.

This surreal shadow can stretch up to 150 km long and even cover other nearby islands. In addition, this spectacle has an impressive optical effect, which is that Teide even though it does not have a pyramidal cone, with the sun at its lowest point, the shadow creates a perfect triangle shape.

On the way day down, after the sunset, we saw trillions of stars sparkling in the sky, looking after us from above. The path was even visible without the headlamp switched on. We stopped to rest a little bit at the refugee camp and lit Christmas sparkles (my surprise for my hiking buddies because my birthday was a week ago) and Richi came up with the idea to play with the camera and do some light art. We had a lot of fun while slightly freezing in the dark.

Overall, this hike was quite a memorable experience for all the good reasons. And if I think back now, I'd say it was sort of my first date with Richi. Our first big adventure together. To the centre of the heart of Tenerife.

Watch my 1-minute video of the trip

Useful links:

Book your teide cable car ticket HERE

Book your Pico del Teide access permit HERE

Teide weather and cable car opening HERE

Hasta pronto! See you soon in my next blog post. ♡


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