Teide National Park is situated in the centre of the Tenerife Island, it is the oldest and largest National Park in the Canary Island.
El Parque Nacional de las Cañadas del Teide (Teide National Park), as it has been known since 1954, is situated in the center of the island of Tenerife, and is the oldest and largest of all the national parks in the Canary Islands. Covering an area of 18,990 hectares, it is the fifth largest park of the thirteen National Parks in Spain.
In the summer of 2007 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and it is home to the Teide volcano which, at 3718m high, is the third tallest volcano in the world, after Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, both in Hawaii.
The Guanches, the native people of Tenerife, called the volcano “Echeyde” (“hell” in the native language), and it was considered the home of Guayota, the devil. According to legend, Guayota kidnapped Magec, the god of light and the sun, and took him deep within Teide, submitting the island to total darkness. The Guanches asked Achamán (their supreme god) for mercy, who defeated Guayota, rescued Magec from the depths of Echeyde and sealed the crater to prevent the demon from escaping. Tradition claims that the last white snow on Teide, called “Pan de Azúcar” (lit. “Sugar bread”), was the stopper that Achamán used to imprison Guayota.
During his travels round the Canary Islands, Christopher Columbus wrote in his logbook the night of the 24th August 1492, “On the 23rd August the Admiral decided to return to Tenerife with two boats. He set sail the following day and spent that night near Tenerife, from whose peak, which is very high, blazes of flame can be seen that so amazed his people that they wished to understand the source and the cause of such a fire, alleging to the example of Mount Etna in Sicily, and many other mountains where the same can be seen”.
The Teide National Park includes an ensemble of geographical elements which are of interest, in which volcanic cones and lava flow form an extraordinary contrast of colours and shapes, which create a beautiful and remarkable landscape. Moreover, Mount Teide is the main center of investigation of the long term influence of volcanic phenomenon from an ecological point of view.
The Teide National Park has an exceptional biodiversity, as demonstrated by the concentration in such a small area of indigenous plants and animals. Around fifty species of vascular plants found in the park are unique, or grow there more than anywhere else in the world, as well as a higly important diverse range of animals, particularly invertebrates.
The peculiarity of the elements that make up this park has become an point of interest for researchers worldwide, notably among them names such as Alexander Van Humboldt or even Darwin, who was frustrated at not being able to disembark in the port of Tenerife because of being in quarantine, and, according to his own statements, dreamed of the view that he could only witness from the boat: “During the day we were between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the view was spectacular. The peak of Tenerife, seen between the clouds, seemed out of this world”.