Our Drive up to the Volcano

canarybird01June 11, 2007

On June 1st I convinced Wolf that it was time we took a drive up to the higher regions of this island. The Teide volcano, at a height of 3218 meters (10,559 feet) is the third largest volcano on earth and looms up over all the local landscapes. The area around the volcano (the caldera), called Las Cadas del Teide is preserved as a national park where there is a cable car which travels up the side of the volcano and a government hotel, one of the chain of National Paradores. It used to be possible for ardent hikers to climb right up to the summit of the crater (my brother did it once) where the ground is hot and the air is thin. But it has since been prohibited for the sake of preserving the delicate environment and plant life.

As this island is shaped roughly like a pyramid, there are curiously many microclimates which one passes through on a drive up to the caldera of the volcano. Here near sea level where we live, we see palm trees and bougainvilla.....a subtropical environment. But only a few meters higher the vegetation changes, and as one climbs we reach a pine forest where we are soon above the clouds and looking down on what is known here as "the sea of clouds".

At this level there is a trout farm located at a place called Aguamansa. The fish are for sale and can be seen on the menus of local restaurants. Above the pine forest we come to a sub alpine zone with low scrub vegetation and the beginnings of lava rock and volcanic sands. One famous area is a group of large rocks called the Roques de Garcia and one of particular interest is called the Cinchado rock. Another aim of photographers and tourists is to catch sight and photos of the red Tajinaste flower (Echium Wildpretii) which is native to the Teide. It grows up to 3 meters (9 ft) high, is a biennial and flowers at this time, in the early summer. I took many photos of these. The fantastic lunar landscape of lava rock and sand has been the location for the filming of more than one science fiction movie.

We stopped for lunch at one of the little restaurants high above the clouds. The air was deliciously clear and fresh and the sky was an intense blue. It must be very healthy to live up at this altitude. The clearness of the Canary Island skies is protected by law against light pollution. One reason why Europe's most prestigious telescopes have been built here and on the neighbouring island of La Palma is because they share, along with Hawaii, an especially clear atmosphere for astronomical studies.

Getting back to our trip....we unfortunately missed seeing the great panorama of yellow flowers which I discovered later when talking to friends, is seen on another route leading up to Las Cañadas. There are several approaches to the summit and perhaps within a few days we may be able to repeat the trip using the other route. It was a long and tiring drive as it is a constant winding road, but I'm sure glad that this time I have a car with automatic transmission, power steering and air conditioning....none of which I had in my old car the last times I drove this run. LOL. There is so much to see and do here...one needs to go out driving every day! I just love it.

Below is the link to my PBase photo album.


Here is a link that might be useful: Driving up the Volcano in Tenerife

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You live on a truly incredible island! I love your photographic documentation of the wonders around you.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 10:54AM
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oh sharon, magnificent pics! now i see why it took a while to get the pics together, its a beautiful travelogue! i love that harsh landscape, contrasted with the echium spikes, the white broom and it never even dawned on me you had pines too~ i love the shots of the fog below, in an odd way it reminds of ca, from the sea to the sierras. mt rose in nv has that same harsh dry landscape. oh i hope you go back, i love seeing each pic! do they operate the tram in winter too, or is it seasonal? you had that whole patio to yourself, my kinda day trip! thanks for taking the time to share this!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 12:19PM
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Very nice pics as always Sharon. Just for grins I went to google earth and found the volcano and you can even see the cable car towers. There is also a picture of the volcano from where you took one. Yours is better!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 3:13PM
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Beautiful Sharon! I'm going to Google it later too.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 6:39PM
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Sharon, it's just beautiful! Can't thank you enough for sharing.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 4:29AM
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You live in a wondrous place Sharon! Just absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 8:06AM
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Thank you everyone.....it really is a pleasure to show some of the things we see and take for granted here. It also makes us realize that we should travel more around the islands, and not only when we are taking guests around on excursions.

Jain....the cable car is usually operating year round, unless weather conditions cause a halt.....excessive snow on the roads in winter, blocking the mountain access or high winds which have sometimes caused damage. I also hope we get up there again soon. This week is busy and there is another very special event on Thursday.....the making of the flower carpets in the next town of La Orotava. This place is famous for the enormous sand paintings created every year in the city hall square, using only coloured volcanic sands which are drizzled onto the ground. Here are a few photos I made one year when there was threat of a rainstorm, thus the covering tarps overhead. The sand paintings are laborously done by artists for the 8th day of Corpus Christi, when there is a church service and the carpets are swept away.
Here are the beginnings of the sand paintings some years ago:

Sand carpets 1...The Orotava City Hall & patio
Sand carpets 2....underneath the protective tarp
A closeup of one featuring John the Baptist:The Baptism

Here is a link to someone's page of photos in Orotava showing the making of the flower carpets in the streets.

That same day (this Thursday, June 14) carpets of fresh flower petals are created in the streete of La Orotava, and in the evening they are walked upon by the religious procession and then also swept away.

I hope to go up there early Thursday morning and take photos of the flower carpets being made. We'll see if I make it this year! I'm also supposed to be going to my Pilates class at 11 am and a charity lunch at 1 pm. LOL.

Back to the summit restaurant of the Teide....well we had that open patio to ourselves until a tourbus stopped for quick cold drinks for the group of Germans within. But they were gone again in about 20 minutes.

Jim thanks for the tip....I forget to use Google Earth sometimes, so I'm amazed at all the detail that can be seen of the cable car towers and the texture of the soil. The station and parking lot at the bottom are also very clear. Some nice photos as well there.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 10:00AM
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sharon i can't tell you how much i enjoy having my eyes opened! i loved the sand, but then the flowers just sent me! yes, skip pilates and the luncheon and dazzle us! oh, and stay for the procession too please! i love seeing this rich culture unfold in front of my white bread life~

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:26AM
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As usual, Sharon, those pictures are just beautiful. For some reason I really liked the "descending into the clouds" picture, it seemed like the road could just go down forever.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:35PM
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I thought the sand pix were incredible till I saw the flower carpets! How wonderful. You live in a true paradise.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 12:06PM
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Amazing pictures. What a wonderful place to be and how special of you to share it with us!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 7:30AM
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There was an episode of Globe Trekker on last week that featured the islands of Spain. In one segment the guy rode the cable car up Mt Teide and then hiked to the top. The view was really amazing. It is surrounded by ocean and you can see cities and even two of the other Canary Islands from the top. Sharon your next mission should you accept it is to go to the top and take some of your wonderful pics from there. One of the nicest views I've ever seen.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 9:23PM
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Thanks for your comments James. Yes the view from the very top is magnificent, but nowadays hiking to the top of the crater is not allowed as the government is concerned about protecting the fragile environment of the area. I have seen photos from a friend who hiked to the summit in 1979 and yes you could see some of the other Canary Islands in the distance. I wish I could have done it myself, although I'm not a great hiker.

My brother did go to the top when he came to visit us years ago and he videotaped as he walked. He was puffing and gasping as he filmed as the air was quite thin and full of sulphur fumes. At the base of the cable car there are warning signs that persons with breathing or cardiac problems should not take the cable car up to the base of the cone.

Here's a link below to a site which has some lovely photos taken around and up the volcano.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hiking Photos of Teide

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 6:40AM
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Is that the volcano that will have a huge landslide next time it erupts and cause a tsunami on the east coast of North America????

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 4:43PM
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Absolutely stunning!

Thanks so much for sharing your gorgeous island with us.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 4:57PM
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Momj47...no that's not us but rather the next door island of La Palma, another of the Canary Islands.

Kinds scary eh? :-) I hope they're wrong about that!


    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 7:15PM
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I hope they are wrong too, since I live near Baltimore. Your pictures are just wonderful, it's fun to see such lovely photographs. I'd never given the Canary Islands much thought until I started reading your posts and enjoying your pictures. What a lovely place it must be, and you sure seem to enjoy it.

I know a lot of us probably live in lovely places, but we often don't appreciate how nice they are. I'm glad you share your love of the Canary Islands with us.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 12:00AM
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