Dressed To Chill

If La Laguna had been chilly at times, our journey out of town and into the

Teide Parque Nacionale was downright cold. The car’s digital thermometer dropped rapidly as we headed up into the hills and, before long, it was reading just a couple of degrees above zero: a lot colder than back home in Amsterdam.

We pulled into the vistors’ centre and watched a short film about Teide, the volcano that gives the national park its name.

As we left the vistors’ centre and continued onward, it started to snow and we soon found ourselves driving through a considerable flurry. Snow isn’t something I’d expected to run into in the Canary Islands, but travel has a way of surprising you and that, of course, is one of the things that make it so much fun in the first place.

Our hotel, the Paradores, is situated in the middle of the national park and the only one located inside its boundaries. It’s a friendly place, large, but with simple rooms and a nice atmosphere.

After checking in, we continued along the road to the small town of Vilaflor, where we enjoyed our best meal yet at the lovely Restaurante Casa Pana. I had the local speciality, cabra (goat), and it was delicious, as were the salted black Canarian potatoes, boiled in their skin. I should also mention the mouth-watering desserts and piping hot fresh bread.

Back at the hotel, we went on a short hike into the Roques de Garcia, but the sun was setting and it was very cold, so we turned back after just half an hour.

Unfortunately, we didn’t bring any clothing suitable for the kind of temperature we encountered here. On our first day in the national park, it was just 1 or 2°C at about 2,200 m above sea level.

On our second day in the park, we were up early to beat the crowds. We downed a speedy breakfast and headed for the car, where we first had to scrape the frost off the windscreen before we could be on our way.

With visibility restored, we drove the short distance to the foot of Teide, where we paid the €25 each (young children free) to take the cable car, the Teleférico del Teide, to just below the summit of the volcano, some 3,555m above sea level.

The cable car travels some 2,482 m, which includes a 1,199 m change in elevation. The journey takes eight minutes and the ascent was absolutely spectacular. We could see for miles, even out across the sea to the La Gomera, another island in the archipelago.

At the top of Teide, it was freezing cold, but the sun was shining and there was almost no wind, so it was fine. In fact, I had been colder the day before, outside the front door of the hotel, more than a kilometre lower, due to the wind and cloud cover.

We had got up early to beat the crowds, and had been successful in that endeavour, but within minutes of our arrival at the summit, the clouds started to roll in and obscure the view. After just twenty minutes or so, the spectacular views had all but disappeared.

When we arrived back at the foot of the volcano, the queue for cable car tickets was now quite long and the volcano was shrouded in layers of cloud. The ascending cable cars disappeared into the grey soup halfway up the volcano. I thought of all those people in the queue, about to pay €25 each to go to the top of Teide for the privilege of peering into the belly of a cloud.

Back at the hotel, we were allowed some time on the office computer to book the next stop on our travels, way down south in La Playa de las Américas.

With time for only a very quick lunch, we went on a guided tour of the Roques de Garcia. We were the only people on the tour with our guides, a couple of very chirpy girls from Santa Cruz. It was a nice tour, although Eloïse reached the end of her tether rather early on in the hike. I had to carry her on my shoulders for much of the walk.

Eloïse has been rather sleep-deprived, due to the late dinners that siesta has forced on us. Unfortunately, breakfast the next day doesn’t take siesta into account, so Eloïse has been getting a couple of hours’ less sleep than she’s used to. We’re doing what we can to minimise this problem.

On Saturday, we drove back to the visitors’ centre, a short drive through the lava fields, which had been completely invisible on the way in, because of the dense fog and falling snow. Those few kilometres provided some stunning views this time around.

From the visitors’ centre, we hiked some of the way along the La Forteleza route, but Eloïse’s little legs wouldn’t have been up to the full distance, so we turned back after about an hour, which, I suspect, was the better part of the hike, anyway.

As we completed the hike, the clouds were rolling in and the air was cooler. Teide stood in the distance, now partially obscured at lower altitude.

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