Our Drive up to the Volcano
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 CaÃ±adas. 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