Hiking in Teide Natural Park – Pico el Teide and Pico Veijo (5-6 Octoober)

When it was decided we go to Tenerife, we knew we wanted to climb on top of the Mount Teide which is a volcano and Its 3,718-metre summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic.

There are several ways to visit Mount Teide. One and probably most popular means is to use the cable car which runs from the base of the mountain up to 3555 meters. From there on you need to climb on top but you need a special permit which can be booked online and only 200 people per day are allowed to get this. Also, it’s reasonable to book the cable car in advance to avoid ques. We noticed that first available permits were available for the end of November only. The cost of the cable car back and forth is 27 euros. Some people take only one way and climb down, on the opposite. The cost of the special permit to access the summit is said to be free, it just needs to be booked online. The downside of the cable car is that if the weather turns windy they shut it down, so you might have to cancel your ride.

We also found that if you book a night in the Altavista Mountain Refuge which is located on its way to the top, you don’t need a special permit to climb to the summit. This is because if you climb to top before 9 o’clock in the next morning, there is no staff to check the permit. However, the first available rooms were also at the end of November. We already started to lose our hope that we cannot go after all. Fortunately, we decided to write to the booking office to check with them if they really don’t have any space left and asked them to notify us when someone cancels. In 5 minutes, a lady named Maria replied to us that there is opening for 2 for the next day and if we wish we can book this online now. The price was 25 euros per person. It must have been a hell of a coincidence and we felt very happy and lucky  🙂


The refuge is located at 3270 meters and as per reviews it should take 4-5 hours to reach there. From there its about 90 minutes to the summit. Most people will leave the refuge at 6 o’clock the next morning to reach the summit by sunrise which is around 8 o’clock.
To get to the beginning of the hiking trail we rent a car from the airport because it was much cheaper than to take one from the city. Busses to the airport are quite cheap. After some hassle over the price we got our rental car and started driving to the beginning of the hiking trail which is close to the where the cables cars run up.


We struggled a bit to find a parking place but soon found a free space for our microcar. We started the hike at 1315. All going well we should be at refuge around 5 o’clock which is the exact time they are opening. We took one big backpack and a small one with us. The big one was mainly filled with warm clothes, food, and water. The smaller one had some emergency gear, sunscreen and some other things we needed to keep ourselves safe. It’s only a few degrees Celsius on the heights where the refuge is and it is less than 0 degrees at the summit.


It was 8 kilometers to the refuge and from there on 2.75 kilometers to the summit the next morning. First 4-5 kilometers where easy. The trail was quite flat and it was not so hot as well although it looked like a desert around us.


But the last 3 kilometers to the refuge were quite steep and thereby demanding. After some serious climbing, the weather started to get colder, the wind rose and it started to rain a bit. In the end, Jaanus’ legs were so exhausted that he could only make baby steps 😀


Exactly at 5 o’clock we saw a chimney of the refuge behind the rocks and we knew we are almost there – What a relief. The weather by that time was cold, windy and cloudy. Kaija could not feel her fingers anymore. It was only 2 degrees outside. The refuge is said to be a great place for watching stars, but we were a bit disappointed that the weather was so cloudy so we did not see anything. To be really honest, we were so too exhausted anyway and even the stars would not have tempted us to go outside into the cold. We put our bets on the next morning because at 6 o’clock it’s still dark and we hoped the sky will be clear then.


The refuge was quite basic but nice and cozy. There was a kitchen where one could heat or make its own food. There was a common area with chairs. No food was served at the place except the vending machines, which was extremely expensive. The sleeping area was a series of rooms with several bunkbeds. Each room had 7-10 bunkbeds. There was no shower but there were toilets. Sheets blankets and pillows were provided. And surprisingly there was free WiFi.


We had a proper dinner and Jaanus started to talk to one local guy. He said that if you want greater experience we should also go to Pico Viejo which is also a volcanic mountain having a bigger crater and thus it is more impressive. He recommended to follow path number 9 and then take a path number 23 down from the mountains. The hiking trail 23 was not on the map which we had on the phone but he showed where its running approximately. We thought we will see tomorrow after we have climbed to Teide whether we will go straight back or also go to Pico Viejo.

Next morning, we woke up at 5 o’clock. Had some food and warm tea and prepared to leave. We left at 5.45 and hooked to one of the groups whose tempo seemed OK to us. At first, Jaanus was full of power and motivation. It’s only 2.75 kilometers to go. It was completely dark, the sky was full of starts and view was just amazing. The backpack was half the weight because we wore all the warm clothes we had and half of the foodstuff was consumed. It lasted about 30 minutes when it became clear that the mountain will only get steeper and steeper. 


However, after few breaks and 45 minutes, there were 500 meters of track running on the basically flat terrain. It gave us a chance to regain our motivation and strength. The trail took us to the cable car station and from there on it was last 750 meters to the top. It was damn cold outside and we increased the pace in order to keep our bodies warm. t started to get lighter already and the sky turned to pink and that brought some smile to our faces because the pre-sunrise sky looked just amazing.


We reached the top at 7.45 so it took 2 hours for us from the refuge to Teide. It was freezing up there and the wind was blowing. We desperately waited for the sun to already rising because our fingers were freezing. It was very demanding but the views and the sunrise were very rewarding. It’s difficult to describe with words and even pictures don’t carry on the same emotions you experience up there. Especially after such an effort.

After the sunrise, we did not spend much time up there, because we were so cold that we wanted to start going down as soon as possible. Also, it smells like rotten egg there because the volcano emits sulfur gases.


Down at cable car station, it was warmer already and you could also hide from the wind. Since it was only 9 o’clock and we had some strength left we started to look for the beginning of the trail number 9 which should take us to the Pico Viejo. Soon we found this trail and at first, it took us to the Pico Viejo viewpoint. The view from there was amazing so we definitely wanted to go there. We had to get down anyway so why not going this way although it doesn’t take us directly back to our car. We also saw the famous shadow of Mount Teide which has a sharp tip although the actual tip is not sharp – a phenomenon which no one can explain. The trail was also supposed to be only downwards from there on – which doesn’t necessarily mean it would be easier than going up. Fortunately, we also found a map with included all trails including the trail 23, so we felt confident moving forward.


We didn’t saw anyone else following us neither we met anyone on our way to Pico Viejo so it seemed that we were the only one from the refuge group who decided to extend the hike.
The track to Pico Viejo runs on and between the black volcanic rock. You need to watch every of your step because as soon as you feel too confident and start exploring around you stumble to the stone and either fall down or twist your ankle – this happened few times to us. Luckily we did not quite twist our ankles, but they certainly did hurt. At some point, the terrain changed to brownish rocky gravel again.


It started to get warmer again and at every stop, we got rid of some of our clothing.
Soon we reached to the base of Pico Viejo. We decided we will climb to the plateau which was on the edge of the crate, from where it was a great view to the Pico Viejo crater and the Mount Teide at the same time. We just stayed there, had a rest and enjoyed the view – it was just amazing.


It’s difficult to compare which we enjoyed more, the Teide or Viejo because both of them are worth to climb and both of them offer amazing views in a different way. While having a rest and enjoying the view we also started to notice other people coming down from Teide and also on the opposite side of the Veijo crater. Seems that we were not the only ones here after all. Although we almost always struggle to climb up, we are the masters of coming down from the mountains because we always tend to be faster than others.


We met few people on the way down who were going up to Pico Viejo. One guy we met was alone and he was wearing sandals. We could not imagine what his feet may have looked alike because we were always stumbling upon rocks when we walked down. The guy also asked us how much more it is to Pico Viejo and he was quite disappointed when we said that he has at least half more to go. In addition, he asked if its long way from Viejo to Teide cable car station in order to take some water there because he only had 1.5 liters with him. We strongly suggested not to climb there if he is not prepared only to take water because the trail up there is very difficult. We gave one of our sports drinks to him. Hopefully, he survived.


At some point, we started to see the highway already from where it would be another 4-5 kilometer to our car. We decided that we will make a shortcut to the final part to reach highway earlier and thus save 1 kilometer or so.


At first taking, this shortcut seemed a good idea. In reality, it was quite difficult to walk, but the motivation was high, because the highway was close. The highway was sort of a finish to us. So Jaanus basically run through the stone yard and Kaija only stumbled and in the end also fell while trying to take pictures of Jaanus who smoothly flew over the rocks.


Finally, we reached to the highway and we decided we will try to hitchhike to our car.


After several unlucky attempts, one couple finally stopped and picked us up. They were from Israel but originally from Tajikistan. We tried to talk to each other but they did not speak much English and we don’t speak Russian well enough but we understood that the man had walked the same highway himself after the hike and trying to hitchhike back to his car and no one stopped for him. That’s why he stopped for us. They took us directly to our car and saved us from walking 4.5 kilometers in killing heat.


To conclude, this was our first overnight hike and we totally killed and loved it! It was the highest point both of us have ever been to. Our muscles were sour for the next couple of days, but it still was a great experience. For the rest of the week, we observed the mount Teide everywhere we went to in Tenerife – we could say that we have seen all the places already from top of the highest peak of the Atlantic Ocean islands.


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