Canadas del Teide, Canary Island, Spain
Declared a World Heritage Site in 2007 it covers an area of 18,900 hectares, and right in the centre is Mount Teide, an active volcano and the highest peak in Spain. There are two visitor centres within the park where you can learn all about the islandís diverse landscape, and it is a marvellous area to go hiking. Mount Teide stands approximately 3,700m above sea level and measured from its base on the ocean floor to the top it is the third highest volcano in the world.
Christopher Columbus passed Tenerife during his voyage to discover the New World in 1492 and reported seeing an eruption taking place. However, Mount Teide has not erupted since 1909 so it has been silent for over a century now. The aboringinal tribes on the island, the Guanches, considered Mount Teide to be a sacred mountain and believed it held up the sky. They also believed it housed the forces of evil.
According to legend the devil kidnapped Magec, the God of Sun and Light, and held him prisoner within the volcano plunging the world into darkness. The Guanches prayed to the supreme God to free Magec which he did, and from then on whenever there was an eruption the Guanches would light bonfires to scare the devil away. Over the centuries many ritual items have been found in various hiding places within the mountains which supposedly were used to ward off the evil spirits.
Some interesting places to visit beyond Canadas del Teide is the botanical garden in Puerto de la Cruz and the dragon trees at Icod de los Vinos. Situated to the northeast is La Laguna, one of Tenerifeís most historical cities. It was founded by Alonso FernŠndez de Lugo in 1496 and was the islandís capital until 1821. The old part of town has been declared a World Heritage site and has remained beautifully preserved.
Northwest of Canadas del Teide is the ancient town of Garachico. In its short history the town has endured bubonic plague, floods, storms, fires, plagues of locusts, and volcanic eruptions. Despite this extraordinary bad luck, Garachico has remained one of Tenerifeís prettiest destinations. There are beautifully restored churches and in one of the plazas is the remains of the 16th century Convent of San Francisco. However, the main attraction is the sea water rock pools where you can wander their paths spotting all sorts of tropical fish.
If you are looking for accommodation during your stay at Canada del Teide, the Parador Hotel Canadas del Teide is located right next to Mount Teide and is actually the only building within the reserve. Guests can enjoy fabulous views, have access to a gymnasium and heated swimming pool, and the hotelís restaurant serves excellent island cuisine. The location alone next to such an impressive volcano will certainly make it a very unique experience.