Teide National Park

Mount Teide or, in Spanish, El Teide, is an active though dormant volcano which last erupted in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent on the Santiago (northwestern) rift and is located on Tenerife, Canary Islands. The volcano and its surrounds comprise the Teide National Park (Parque Nacional del Teide in Spanish). The park has an area of 18900 ha and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on June 29, 2007.

Teide, Tenerife

Teide on Tenerife, covered with snow. view from north. Photo by Jens Steckert

At 3718 m above sea level, and approximately 7500 m above the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, Teide is the highest mountain in Spain and the highest point in the Atlantic Ocean. (Note: The actual summit stands 3 metres (10 ft) higher than the triangulation station, and associated bench mark, which has an altitude of 3,715 m (12,188 ft)). The island of Tenerife itself is the third largest volcanic ocean island on Earth by volume. Teide is also the third highest volcano on a volcanic ocean island. It is also unstable and possibly in a more advanced stage of deformation and failure than the much publicised Cumbre Vieja. The United Nations Committee for Disaster Mitigation have designated Teide as a Decade Volcano. It is considered to be the 13th most dangerous volcano in the world due to its proximity to several major towns and the nearby city of Puerto de la Cruz.
Teide together with its neighbour Pico Viejo and Montaña Blanca forms the Central Volcanic Complex.

El Pico Del Teide (The Peak of Teide) is the modern Spanish name attributed to the volcano. The Lunar mountain, Mons Pico, part of the Montes Teneriffe mountain range, situated in the inner ring of the lunar mare Imbrium, was named after this 18th Century version by Johann Schröter. Prior to the 1495 Spanish colonization of Tenerife, the native Guanches referred to the volcano as Echeyde. Echeyde, in the Guanches legends, meant some sort of powerful figure leaving the volcano that could turn into hell. The Guanches believed that Echeyde held up the sky.

Pico de Teide, Tenerife

Pico de Teide with a rock formation called “Gods finger” in the forground. Photo by Timolli


The volcano and its surrounds, including the whole of the Las Cañadas caldera, are protected in a national park, the Parque Nacional del Teide. Access is by a public road running across the caldera from northeast to southwest. The public bus service TITSA runs a once per day return service to Teide from both Puerto de la Cruz and Playa de las Americas. A parador (hotel) is also within the National Park along with a small chapel. The Teleférico cable car goes from the roadside at 2,356 m most of the way to the summit, reaching 3,555 m. Access to the summit itself is restricted; a free permit (obtainable from the Park office in Santa Cruz, Calle Emilio Calzadilla, 5 – 4th floor) is required to climb the last 200 m.

Due to the altitude, oxygen levels are lower than at sea level. This can cause people with heart or pulmanory conditions to become light headed, dizzy, develop mountain sickness and in extreme cases unconsciousness. The only treatment is to return to lower altitudes and acclimatise.

Los Roques De Garcia

Los Roques de Garcia are probably the most visited natural attraction, beside Teide, in the Teide National park. Roques de Garcia are a group of rock formations (pinnacles) in the Las Cañadas caldera, a large depression (16 km) that surrounds the El Teide.
They can be easily reached by car or bus.

The biggest attraction of Los Roques de Garcia is the unusual shaped red rock called Cinchado (a.k.a. God’s finger). It must be said, though, that the vast majority of people only take a look of The Cinchado and its surroundings right next to the car park. But there is much more than that to those who are interested in geology, there is a very scenic hiking trail around the Roques and it should not take more than one hour to walk it through.

Roques de García, Teide National Park

Roques de García, Teide National Park. Photo by Diego Delso

Flora and fauna

Forests of Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis) occur from 1000-2100 m, covering the middle slopes of the volcano, and having an alpine timberline 1000 m lower than that of continental mountains of similar latitude. At higher altitudes, the Las Canadas caldera provides sufficient shelter for more fragile species such as the Canary Island cedar (Juniperus cedrus), and the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) to grow.

The most dominant plant species in the Teide National Park are the Teide white broom (Spartocytisus supranubius), which has a white and pink flower; the Canary Island wallflower (Erysimun scoparium), which has white and violet flowers; and the Teide bugloss (Echium wildpretii), whose red flowers form a pyramid up to 3 m in height. The Teide Daisy (Argyranthemum teneriffae) can be found at altitudes close to 3,600 m above sea level. The Teide Violet (Viola cheiranthifolia) can be found right up to the summit of the volcano, making it the highest flowering plant in Spain.

Pico de Teide, Tenerife

On top of Spains highest mountain, the Pico de Teide at Tenerife, Canary Islands. On the lower right hand side, you see bad smelling clouds of sulfur coming out of this old volcano. Photo by Till Krech

These plants are adapted to the tough environmental conditions on the volcano such as high altitude, intense sunlight, extreme temperature variations, and lack of moisture. Adaptations include acquiring semi-spherical forms, acquiring a downy or waxy cover, reducing the exposed leaf area, and having a high flower production. Flowering takes place in the late spring or early summer, in the months of May and June.

The Teide National Park contains a huge range of invertebrate Fauna, over 40% of which are endemic species, with 70 species only being found in the National Park. The invertebrate fauna include spiders, beetles, dipterans, hemipternas, and hymenopterae.

In contrast, Teide national park has only a limited variety of vertebrate fauna. Ten species of bird nest in the park. These include the blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea teydea); Berthelot’s pipit (Anthus berthelotii berthelotii); the wild canary (Serinus canaria); and a species of kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis).

Three endemic reptile species are also found in the park – the Canary Island Lizard (Gallotia galloti galloti), the Canary Island wall gecko (Tarentola delalandii), and the Canary Island skink (Chalcides viridanus viridanus). The only mammals native to the Park are bats, the most common species of which is Leisler’s bat (Nycatalus leisleri). Other mammals such as the mouflon, the rabbit, the house mouse, the black rat, the feral cat, and the Algerian Hedgehog have all been introduced to the park.