Las Canadas, Volcanic Wasteland

Las Cañadas

Table of Contents

The caldera of Las Cañadas is one of the most spectacular and unique sights on the island of Tenerife. This vast crater boasts a landscape sculpted by wind, water, and volcanic activities over thousands of years. Visitors can hike through its otherworldly terrain or admire the views from several lookout points. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or a peaceful place to relax, this incredible park is definitely worth visiting.

History

The Spanish word “caldera” literally translates to “cauldron,” but it’s been borrowed and used to refer to large, depressed craters. The creation of the Las Cañadas caldera, estimated around 170,000 years ago, was followed by a number of volcanic activities, which, along with the buildup of a large amount of naturally occurring materials, made it extremely challenging to establish its origin.

Despite this, experts have come up with two widely accepted hypotheses. According to the first theory, the depression is the result of an emptied magma chamber deep within a volcano that collapsed following numerous explosive eruptions. Another version of this theory suggests thatthree volcanoes, referred to as Las Cañadas I, II, and III, collapsed. The famous El Teide, also referred to as Las Cañadas IV, then developed in the crater of its perished sisters, and it is believed that it will eventually join them. Alternatively, a landslide on the flank of the Las Cañadas volcano, caused by gravitational instability, could have formed the caldera and the Icod valley.

Regardless of the uncertainty of its origin, what’s never been a subject of debate is the spectacular, otherworldly scenery in this depression. It was declared a national park, officially the Cañadas del Teide National Park, in 1954 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. Within the 19,000-acre-wide crater is the Teide-Pico Viejo volcanic complex, and it receives around 3.5 million day-trippers annually, making the park one of the Canary Islands’ top attractions.

Why Visit Las Cañadas

One of the world’s largest calderas, the Las Cañadas cirque has a 45-kilometer oval perimeter and a spectacular terrain abundantly covered in volcanic materials of possibly every description.

Inside the Caldera las Cañadas
Inside the Caldera las Cañadas © Chironius

The depression is one of the most well-known tourist spots on the island, and visitors may choose from a wide variety of fun things to do while there. Trails of all difficulty levels wind through the caldera and are popular visitor activities. If you’re up for a more strenuous climb, there’s always the ascent to El Teide, Spain’s highest peak. In addition, the caldera’s rim is dotted with vantage points from which to take in the crater’s majesty, as well as the surrounding mountains and the night sky.

It is imperative that you check the weather report before ascending to the caldera, particularly if you intend to hit the trail. It’s almost always sunny and pleasant in Tenerife, thanks to its climate that doesn’t fluctuate much throughout the year. However, the weather in the Las Cañadas, particularly on Mount Teide, is considerably different. As anticipated, the sun and heat are at their peak during the summer months. On the other side, the daytime temperatures during the winter season tend to be warm and sunny, while the evenings tend to be chillier. There’s also a chance of snow.

Without further ado, the following is a list of the most exhilarating activities that can be enjoyed at the Cañadas del Teide National Park, along with a description of each one in greater detail.

To Experience an Out-of-This-World Paradise

The caldera of Las Cañadas is like its own little planet. The geological wonders found in the depression offer stunning views and make it the perfect tourist destination for those who love nature, geology, and adventure.

Las Cañadas’ incomparable characteristics are not visible at lower elevations of Tenerife, and it may only seem like an irregular step shrouded in dark green pine trees as you approach the crater’s mouth. However, when the winding road goes over the rim at the height of two kilometers, the view opens up to a red, yellowish,whitish, brown, black, and gray desert world with peculiar rock formations, like the Roques de García,sprouting out of lava fields. The sight of Pico Viejo, El Teide, and many other minor volcanoes that have emerged from this enormous basin makes it even more impressive. These volcanoes have contributed to the formation of a stunning lunar landscape consisting of lava, pumice, and rock. The best part is that you can really get a sense of how tall Mount Teide is from this vantage point!

Because of these and other peculiarities—such as the confirmed similarities between the Park’s environmental and geological conditions and those found on Mars— Las Cañadas del Teide has become a scientific and technological reference point for the entire planet. It also has spurred numerous studies and experiments related to the Red Planet.

Lastly, the beauty of the National Park’s landscape is undeniable. Since the 1960s, its land has been used as the setting for many commercials, reports, and even movies, such as “A Million Years Ago” and “Clash of the Titans.”

To Discover Rare Flora and Fauna

One of the best things about travel is the opportunity to discover new and fascinating plant and animal life. Endemic species are unique to a specific geographical area and often have specialized adaptations that allow them to thrive in their particular environment. As a result, they can provide valuable insights into the ecology of an area. For this reason, it is well worth learning about endemic flora and fauna when you journey to new places.

Rare and unique plants and animals live in the caldera. The Teide broom, Violeta del Teide, Retama, the Thistle of Silver, and Teide Bugloss, which only grows in certain conditions and is also known as tajinaste rojo or tower of jewels, are some of the plants you can’t miss. Some plant species have been able to thrive in the park’s arid environment, as clearly illustrated by the low bushes with a lichen-green tint that dot the ground. Indeed, even in the absence or lack of water, life will always find a way to survive and prosper.

As for wildlife, the Tizón Lizard and the Long-eared Bat are the two most notable representatives of Las Cañadas’ fauna. The caldera is also home to several intriguing and well-known introduced species, including the Mouflon, the Moorish Hedgehog, and the Rabbit.

For the Incredible Hike

Hiking in a volcanic landscape is an otherworldly experience. The unique geology of volcanoes creates a variety of landscapes worth experiencing on foot. In addition, the physical challenge of hiking through rugged terrain can be highly gratifying. Whether admiring the views or searching for wildlife, hiking in a volcanic landscape is an unforgettable adventure.

We recommend getting an early start when the caldera is still dark and the dawn is just beginning to show its first rays on El Teide’s summit. This will give you the best chance of seeing the sunrise. The mountain and the lava streams emerge from the darkness as a pattern of earth colors: white, grey, brown, and black. The sun rises quickly at this low latitude, and it won’t be long before it bathes the depression in all of its raw, unrefined beauty.

We recommend starting early in the morning while the caldera is still dark. This will provide the best opportunity to watch the sunrise and the first rays of sunlight shining on El Teide, which is an experience that everyone ought to have at least once in their lifetime. There is something magical about sitting here and watching the sun rise over the horizon, illuminating the sky in shades of pink and orange as it does so. The colors get more vibrant as the sun climbs higher in the sky, and by the time it reaches its highest point, the sun appears to be a fiery orb. The mountain and the lava streams emerge from the darkness as a pattern of earth colors: white, grey, brown, and black. The sun rises quickly at this low latitude, and it won’t be long before it bathes the depression in all of its raw, unadulterated beauty. If you are searching for something unique to do in Tenerife, you should think about going on a hike to see the sunrise from here at least once. You won’t be let down in any way.

Naturally, the Teide summit offers the most breathtaking panorama of Las Cañadas. Ancient dark brown and black ash lie on the volcano’s surface, appearing like a big slush of chocolate pudding. In addition, there is a massive flow that looks like a dark glacier. It comes to a halt right in front of the rim, which looks as though a rocky wall of a fortified compound rose into the distance.

The Cañadas del Teide National Park may be covered in snow between December and March, but you should always wear warm clothing and comfortable shoes regardless of when you choose to visit. Besides that, bring sun lotion because you will be hiking at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level.

The best hiking trails within the National Park include:

  • Fortaleza
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Distance: 12.1 kilometers
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
  • Huevos del Teide and Montaña Blanca
  • Duration: 5 hours and 30 minutes
  • Distance: 18.5 kilometers
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Montaña de la Botija and Montaña Samara
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Distance: 5 kilometers
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Parador Nacional to Guajara
  • Duration: 4 hours and 30 minutes
  • Distance: 10.1 kilometers
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult
  • Pico del Teide
  • Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes (ascend); 4 hours and 15 minutes (descent)
  • Distance: 8.31 kilometers
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult
  • Roques de García
  • Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Distance: 3.4 kilometers
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Note that a permit is required to ascend from the upper cable car station to the El Teide summit, but if you’re unable to secure one, you can hike one of the two other excellent paths located close to the top. Northern Tenerife can be admired from La Fortaleza Vantage Point, accessible through Trail Number 11. On the other hand, the Pico Viejo Vantage Point is at the end of Trail No. 12, which offers panoramic views of the island’s south and the Las Cañadas del Teide caldera.

To Observe The Stars

There’s something special about looking up at the night sky and seeing the stars shining bright. It’s a reminder of how vast the universe is. Unfortunately, light pollution from cities and towns makes it difficult to see the stars in many parts of the world. However, if you’re around the Las Cañadas park, a place with low air and light pollution, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible stargazing experience. The sky will be filled with stars of different colors, and you may even spot a few planets or constellations. Whether you’re an experienced astronomer or simply someone who enjoys looking at the stars, stargazing in the dark sky area above this caldera is an unforgettable experience.

Tenerife’s Teide Observatory first opened its doors in the year 1990. This demonstrates that the Las Cañadas area is an ideal location for modern observatories, as well as for leisurely stargazing, due to its dark skies, a large percentage of clear nights per year, dry air, and high elevations. Additionally, the region has a large percentage of clear nights per year. There is no doubt that the atmospheric conditions here are far better for observing stars than almost anywhere else on Earth. The sheer quantity of stars that can be seen is astounding, and it appears as though they have completely covered the night sky.

There are three ways to go stargazing if you so desire. You can either drive up to the Las Cañadas caldera and park at one of the miradors or participate in an organized excursion that includes taking the cable car up to the top of Teide, watching the sunset, and then stargazing after.Another fantastic alternative is to spend the night in the Parador Hotel, located within the basin.

Mount Teide National Park
Mount Teide National Park © @marco

Dining Options

Picture this: You’re standing at the edge of a crater, the sun is setting, and in the distance, you see the silhouette of Mount Teide. Suddenly, your stomach grumbles. If you’re looking for the best dining options in Las Cañadas del Teide, you’re in luck. This region is home to some awesome restaurants for fresh seafood, hand-picked wines, and traditional Canary Island dishes with a modern twist. Whether you’re looking for an intimate dinner for two or heavy meals for famished and parched friends, Las Cañadas del Teide has something to offer everyone. Bon appetit!

Restaurante Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide

Nestled at the base of Spain’s tallest mountain, the Restaurante Parador de las Cañadas del Teide is a popular spot for tourists seeking a taste of Spanish and European cuisine, which are both characterized by their use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant features a spacious outdoor terrace with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Inside, the dining room is warm and cozy, with bright walls and an elegant Spanish-style fireplace.

The hotel restaurant provides inventive dishes that highlight the best of what the island has to offer. Its menu features a wide variety of traditional dishes, including Iberian ham and prawns in crunchy corn with avocado sauce for starter, roasted goat leg and steamed cod filet for mains, and white chocolate soup with brownie and raspberry sorbet for dessert. The place also has an extensive wine list featuring local wines, and the attentive staff is more than happy to help you find the perfect pairing for your meal. Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening out or a special dining option to celebrate a milestone, Restaurante Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide is sure to exceed your expectations.

Restaurante Papillon

Restaurante Papillon in Las Cañadas del Teide is the perfect place to enjoy Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine. At first glance, the two cuisines may seem similar. After all, they both make use of olive oil, garlic, and fresh vegetables. However, these cuisines have distinct histories and flavors that are worth exploring. Mediterranean cuisine has its roots in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. As such, it includes a variety of influences, from Italian to Lebanese. One of the hallmarks of this cuisine is its focus on healthy ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish. In contrast, Spanish cuisine is influenced mainly by its Moorish history. Dishes often include meats such as pork and lamb, as well as spices like cumin and paprika. Whether you are looking for a healthy option or something with a little more flavor, you can have it in this place.

Are you looking for more precise recommendations? For starters, you can choose from a wide variety of cheeses at the shop.Then, you absolutely must sample the Spanish tortilla and the extremely tasty vegetarian lasagna. We can also vouch for the tenderness of the pork steaks and the flavors of the hearty butternut squash soup.Prices are affordable, and the service is outstanding. Look no further than this restaurant for a delicious supper in a cozy environment.

Restaurantes El Portillo Y la Bamby

Canarian cuisine is a unique blend of Spanish and African influences, with a healthy dash of Latin American flair thrown in for good measure. The result is a colorful, flavorful cuisine that is sure to please any palate. Thanks to the warm climate of the Canary Islands, fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and available year-round. This makes for some truly amazing dishes, such as platanos maduros (fried plantains), mojo picon (a spicy red pepper sauce), and papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes). Meat lovers will not be disappointed either, as the Canary Islands are home to some of the finest beef in the world.

Restaurantes El Portillo Y la Bamby is one ofthe best places to sample this delicious fare. It offers hearty meals and snacks to keep you going throughout the day. Chicken soup, roasted chicken, garlic prawns, escalope de cerdo, rabbit in salmorejo, sirloin skewer, and steaks are among the most popular options. The Canarian people are renowned for their love of coffee, and you’ll find some of the best cups of coffee in thisplace. So, if you’re looking for a unique culinary experience or some incredibly filling food, check out Restaurante La Bamby and Restaurant el Portillo.

How to Reach Las Cañadas

The most convenient ways to reach Cañadas del Teide National Park are by car or by signing up for an excursion that includes round-trip transport. Due to the park’s remote location, public transportation is not recommended for getting in and out of the area. Buses are scarce and they almost always run on time, while cabs cost an arm.

You may get to Las Cañadas from a variety of locations in Tenerife by car rental, taxi, or bus, as follows:

Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava – Ride bus line 348 or drive along TF-24 to the national park

Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje – Take bus line 342 or go to Vilaflor, then drive along TF-1, TF-38, then TF-21 to the park

San Cristóbal de La Laguna and Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Take bus line 108 to La Orotava, then ride bus 348 or drive along TF-24 to the park

Los Gigantes and Fañabe – Take bus line 473 or 477 to Costa Adeje, then ride bus 342 to the park. Alternatively, head to Chío, then drive along TF-38 and TF-21 to the park.

The Natural Chaos of Las Cañadas

Tourists should visit the Las Cañadas del Teide National Park to see Tenerife in its chaotically natural splendor. The crater covers over 18,000 acres and is home to breathtaking peaks and the most peculiar volcanic elements spread out across extraordinary lava fields. It’s best to get out and wander on foot; there are numerous hiking paths to choose from, each leading to breathtaking views and hidden treasures. Make sure you don’t miss out on this magnificent natural phenomenon!

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