ABOARD THE STAR FLYER — A short overnight voyage landed us on Sunday, October 26, at the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Largest of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife is also the highest, topped by soaring Pico del Teide, a dormant volcano of 12,198 feet, making it Spain’s highest peak. Teidi also ranks as the world’s third largest volcano, behind Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Naturally it was the object of the day’s excursion.
Departing the port in Santa Cruz, our coach began gaining altitude almost immediately, winding up to the village of Esperanza and through Corona Forest, where dense stands of pine and eucalyptus cover the hillsides. Stops at a couple of overviews at about 7,000 feet in elevation offered panoramic views of the Orotavo Valley – and our first glimpse of Mount Teidi looming in the distance.
After pausing to photograph the array of telescopes at Izana International Observatory, we continued on a short distance to enter Parque Nacional de Teidi. Declared a national park in 1954 (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007), it was the third to be established in Spain – and covering almost 47,000 acres, it is one of the country’s largest parks.
Unfortunately our tour didn’t allow time to take the cable car to the summit of Teidi, but we did get great views of it from several different points in the park as well as a sense for the enormous size of the ancient crater that surrounds it – measuring some 28 miles in circumference. It is a twisted, tortured landscape of lava, streaked with multi-colored layers of pumice, stretching for miles in all directions. We made photo stops at the park’s most notable features – Roques de Garcia, a scattering of volcanic dikes formed in bizarre shapes, and Llano de Ucana, a crater within a crater where parts of the movie Planet of the Apes were filmed.
All in all this was a great day spent savoring one of the world’s geologic wonders, and a place very much in contrast to anything we’d seen so far – or would see during the remainder of the voyage.
With the voyage being offered in two segments – Malaga to Tenerife and Tenerife to Barbados – we lost and gained a few shipmates in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with 92 passengers onboard for the actual crossing.