We’ve hired a car!
I’ve been extolling the virtues of Teide and the best way to see it is in an unrushed excursion in a car where you can stop when you want and stay as long or as briefly as your fancy takes.
There is some cloud at about 4000 feet so we expect to be driving, at least some of the time, in a swirling fog.
The first three thousand feet are zigzag roads through villages and a couple of small towns on roads with cactus, aloe vera, vineyards and almond trees in full blossom. The cactus used to be cultivated to enable the farming of cochineal beetle that would subsequently be crushed to produce red pigment. In years gone by it would be used to colour fabrics and painting but now it seems that its only use is as a food dye. Next time you’re eating something yummy that’s pink or red think about the little beetles that gave their lives for your visual delight! You might also be grateful for the fact that their reemergence as a preferred food dye is due to the fact that they’re non-carcinogenic whereas there are numerous question marks over the synthetic stuff.
We reach Vilaflor and the cloud at about the same time, this enables an informed approach to the decision regarding stopping for coffee and a pastry; we don’t!
The next couple of thousand feet is in the cloud but not unpleasant, in fact, the sight of the cloud drifting through the trees is both fascinating and atmospheric. There are numerous very tight hairpin bends and cyclists peddling without obvious effort up the incline. Their downhill cousins that have ticked the box at the top of the mountain are coming down at huge speeds and look like they’re putting more into the descent than they did going up; perhaps they were saving themselves.
We emerge from the cloud into a land of blue skies and sunshine, I park in a lay-by to look down on the gentle eddies. It’s a fascinating picture, we’re watching the clouds swirl through the trees 500 feet below us then magically disappear in a tumbling illusion.
We clear the edge of the tree line and drive into the crater. It’s huge and The Pilgrim is visibly impressed. It’s 45km in circumference and the road cuts through the centre.
There are a number of lay-bys and we take advantage of one where we can take a short walk to a huge rock with a hole that has been eroded over the years. With a bit of imagination there are ample opportunities to frame Teide’s views through this natural frame.
We return to the car and make our way to the visitors centre – a note of advice – drive past the first entrance and pull in at the sign of the Hostel, there’s always ample parking there.
There are toilet facilities here and excellent pastries if you like that sort of thing and, purely as part of the detox, we indulge.
Los Roques is next and, although sometimes very busy with coaches etc., should be considered a mandatory stop. The view across the crater alone is worth the excursion and a walk around the rocks is fascinating.
Our return is via the route to Los Gigantes and takes us through a moonscape of lava fields then back into the forests.
Be vigilant if you take this route, look to your left and right as you descend as Tiede’s summit is visible through the trees and this, less sunny, side of the peak quite often has surreal snow fields that just don’t seem appropriate when you’re sitting in 25 degrees of sunshine. Also keep a look our for La Gomera.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x