SANTA CRUZ - TEIDE ROUTE
Ascending Teide is an experience that should be enjoyed from the moment that we begin our trip. With this route we propose that you make the trip to the highest point in Spain an experience in and of itself. We will guide you through streets, pueblos, pine forests and Teide white broom (known as retama in Spanish) on the way to the Teide Cable Car, the final stage of our journey.
In order to enjoy our trip without being in a rush while we enjoy the different stops along the way, it is necessary to begin our ascent early in the morning. The first stage of the trip will find us in the capital of the province of Tenerife: Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
The administrative and economic capitol of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife offers a great variety of cultural and leisure activities for visitors. Museums, shopping areas, parks, restaurants, pubs, etc. are some of the visits you can make in this coastal municipality.
We will start at 9 in the morning from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but before beginning we will have a nice breakfast in the city market. Nuestra Señora de África Market, (Av. San Sebastían 51)known locally as La Recova, (http://www.la-recova.com/) it consists in a unique neo-colonical building that was inaugurated in 1944. The market was named for the Virgen of Africa. The market has various cafes where you can have a nice breakfast in a lively atmosphere surrounded by stands selling local products.
After breakfast we will head out of the city toward La Laguna on the TF5. After a 10 minute drive, we will begin to see signs indicating the exit toward the national park.
As we exit toward highway TF24 we will drive around the statue of "Padre Anchieta", a beatified missionary born in La Laguna who founded cities such as Sao Paulo. We will leave the World Heritage city behind and head toward the municipality of El Rosario.
This eminently agrarian pueblo still preserves the island charm that has disappeared from other more tourist-centred areas of the island. The highway will give us a good view of crop lands and pine trees in a climate that is cold and humid during most of the year. It is not surprising that this is the birthplace of one of the most characteristic pieces of traditional clothing of the island: the manta esperancera. This is a wool cape that protected local inhabitants from the harsh winters.
Just before reaching the Corona Forestal (the pine forest belt surrounding Teide National Park), to our right we will find the municipal farmer's market. This modest installation holds just a few stands, but they sell the best local produce.
We will enter in the pine forest right when the road becomes curvy. The pine trees will accompany us all the way to the national park and will show us the surprising landscape characteristic of the northern part of the island.
If we need to replenish our energy with a picnic in a typical forest setting, we can make a stop in Las Raíces, a recreational area in the forest. This area has every comfort (tables, benches, restrooms, barbecues, restaurant, playground for children), ideal for a short stop or to eat lunch.
Then we will continue up the highway. A few kilometres away we will find one of the best lookout points on our route. The Ortuño Lookout. This balcony over the island's pine forest belt is named after the former Director General of the Spanish Forest Service, Francisco Ortuño Medina. This lookout is located at an altitude of 1,590 m above sea level, high enough to appreciate a large portion of the green coverage of northern Tenerife's pine forest, crowned by Mount Teide.
Continuing on our route through Canary Island Pine Trees, we will travel over the central ridge of the island, on one side is La Orotova Valley and on the other side of the road Güimar Valley. Gradually we leave the pine trees behind and enter into an area of typical high mountain vegetation. Right when we enter into the area populated by Teide white broom we arrive at our next stop: La Tarta.
This lookout, known as "La Tarta" (the layer cake), doesn't provide a vista of a landscape. It is a wall made up of volcanic strata that were exposed by the construction of the highway. These strata reveal the wide chromatic variety of volcanic material, each a different colour and from a different eruption. Just like layers of a cake.
We are now in volcano territory. To the left we will pass the entrance to the famous astronomical and meterological observatories of Izaña and finally enter into Teide National Park, World Heritage Site and the highest point in Spain.
From here on lava flows and volcanic cones will accompany us all the way to the Cable Car. We will follow TF 24 until it merges with TF 21, which comes up from La Orotava. We will follow it toward Teide. Once we pass the area known as Portillo, we will find ourselves in front of the impressive Montaña Mostaza (Mustard Mountain), which owes its name to its mustard colour, caused by the chemical composition of the lava that created it.
If we want to stretch our legs in our last stop before reaching our destination, we can do it in the area known as Las Minas de San José. A place where they used to extract rocky material, especially pumice stone. The pumice stone was used in construction. The area looks like the surface of Mars, which is why the space and film industries have used it for various projects. While walking though this setting, it's common to feel like we are in a different world.
Among giant lava flows that look like they were recently ejected from the volcano, we arrive at Teide and the end of our route. A few moments later we will arrive at the Teide Cable Car on our right hand side. Here we will park and take the cable car up to the highest place in Spain, and the third tallest volcano in the world.