The Canary Islands are a group of six small and seven larger islands, nestling just off the coast of north-west Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Tenerife is the largest and most populated of these islands and welcomes around five million tourists every year who take advantage of the many cheap holidays to Tenerife that are available, making it one of Spain’s busiest and most popular holiday destinations.Tenerife is essentially an island of two halves; the north and south are divided by the imposing Mount Teide, a volcano which can be seen from almost everywhere on the island, and in colder months is picturesquely tipped with snow, although you could still be wearing your swimsuit on the beach. The north of the island tends to be a bit cloudier and can sometimes see a little rain, while the south usually basks in year round sunshine.
Mount Teide is thought to derive its name from the Guanche language native to the Canary Islands up until the 16th or 17th century, and from where the word Echeyde, or Echeide is translated as ‘hell’, a reference to its early volcanic eruptions giving birth to the belief that the mountain was a portal in to a fiery underworld where the people of the island believe ‘Guayota’ the evil spirit lived.Mount Teide is an active volcano although it hasn’t erupted since 1909, and is Spain’s highest peak; rising to 3,718m from its base, Teide is also accredited as being the third largest volcano by volume on the planet.Standing proudly in the Mount Teide National Park, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2007, it is one of Tenerife’s major tourist attractions and four of the five million visitors to the island each year come here. Many serious hikers choose to climb the mountain on foot, but the going gets tough as the higher you climb the thinner the air gets. Most people choose the easier option and take the ‘Teleferico Teide’, or Mount Teide Cable Car to within 200m of the summit, a journey that takes just 8 minutes.To reach the very top of the mountain you will need a special permit, pre-bookable from the National Park Offices in Santa Cruz, you can do this in person or by email a minimum of 8 days prior to your visit, the email address is; [email protected], this enables you to climb to the very edge of the vast crater. Limiting the visitors protects this extremely fragile yet breathtakingly beautiful part of the world.
The crater itself spans an immense 16km with amazing rock formations and volcanic ash that gives the appearance of a lunar landscape; a barren outlook which has been used as a backdrop in films such as Planet of the Apes and Star Wars. Be warned though that although it hasn’t erupted in a hundred years, the volcano regularly belches wisps of sulfur in to the warm sunny air, a smell that takes some getting used to…So as the dark nights creep in, the leaves fall from the trees and the bright autumn mornings get a distinctly frosty feel about them, choose from the many cheap holidays to Tenerife available at the moment and take advantage of the warm winter sunshine, and stunning views of the majestic snow capped Mount Teide.