We have set off early to drive up to the Parque de las Cañadas, the crater at the base of Mount Teide. As we drive up the winding road we drive into fog and decide to stop at the Mirador Piedra de la Rosa. We cross the road to see the Piedra de la Rosa, also often called Margarita de Piedra. This rose-shaped rock is the result of a combination of processes which were initiated when the lava river got cold. When rocks are exposed to wind and harsh weather conditions they tend to crack, often creating characteristic shapes. If these cracks are radial the ‘stone petals’ are easily loosened, creating the rose-like formation.
We continue up the road and and soon we emerge above the clouds, where the sun is shining. As we head into the national park it feels although we have been transported to another planet. We drive through the 48 kilometre wide volcanic crater, 2,000 metres above sea level, where the landscape looks extra-terrestial. Out of the crater rises the third highest active volcano in the world and Spain’s highest peak at 3,718 metres.
The Guanches called Teide “Echeyde”, meaning “hell”, and believed that the volcano was the home of Guayota, the Devil. According to local legends, Guayota kidnapped Magec, the god of the light and the sun, and took him deep within Teide, submitting the island to total darkness. The Guanches asked Achamán, their supreme God, for mercy. Achamán defeated Guayota, rescued Magec from the depths of Echeyde and sealed the crater to prevent Guayota from escaping. The aboriginal Guanches also believed that Teide was responsible for holding up the sky.
We arrive at the cable car station and wait in the queue to buy tickets before taking the seven minute ride to the top of the volcano, just 200 metres below the summit. The path to the summit can only be accessed with a special permit, so we decide to take route number 12 to the mirador at Pico Viejo. From here we are able to admire the caldera of las Cañadas del Teide and the lavas negras, the aftermath of the last volcanic eruptions where the lava gushed down the slopes of the volcano. The view is breathtaking and the landscape is simply incredible.
The most recent eruptions did not come from the summit crater, but were flank eruptions in Pico Viejo. In 1798 Las Narices del Teide erupted, spewing trachybasalt lava into the former Las Cañadas crater floor for three months. Later, in 1908 the cinder cone, Chinyareo, erupted.
We admire the view, take countless photographs of the crater and the volcano from all the different angles and take in the amazing scenery until is it time to return to the cable car station to catch the last cable car back. We drive back through the alien landscape, still marvelling over today’s adventure.
As we make our way back down the mountain, into the pine forest, we can see the clouds below us. We drive through them and when we come out at the other side it is dark and rainy. It feels as though we have been in a fairy tale.