There are three things you learn by taking the cable car to La Rambleta just 163 metres below the summit of Mount Teide on Tenerife.
The first is that standing on the top of the world looking out across an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is a humbling and extremely special experience. The cost of the ticket (€25 for a return trip; €12.50 for children under 14 and residents) may seem high, but there is no other place in the world that will give you a view like this. On clear days the other Canary Islands protrude like icebergs in an expanse of sparkling blue sea that, from this height, seems to stretch to infinity and beyond.
Of course, it costs nothing to walk up…except blood, sweat and tears – and it is immensely satisfying.
The second thing you learn is that the air at 3555 metres is lacking in oxygen – walk a short distance and you can soon be huffing and puffing. Take it easy till you adjust to the altitude.
The third thing you learn is during the 8-10 minute trip up the mountain in the cable car. Your 34 companions in the cabin may be a mix of people from Britain, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia and Russia but when that cabin judders and dips when it passes those pylons holding the cable up, every nationality makes exactly the same noise – WOOOooooOOOO.
Hordes upon hordes of people take the cable car to near Mount Teide’s summit daily (a permit is required to go all the way) and that can be a deterrent as at peak times it can involve long queues. People on an organised excursion might be subjected to the double whammy of having to wait so long to get the cable car that by the time they get to the top they’ve only got a few minutes to look around before it’s time to come back down again. This happened to my sister last year and she wasn’t a happy bunny about it.
The other thing I’d say is that if you don’t have an appreciation of nature, don’t take the cable car. Like I said hordes of people take it daily, yet when we’ve taken the cable car to La Rambleta we’ve noticed a good number of visitors simply loiter around near the upper station as though not sure what to do next. It’s as though they expect something to happen. I’m never sure whether they’re expecting Teide to blow it’s top or maybe somebody to throw dry shrubbery into a hole where it’ll burst into flames à la Timanfaya on Lanzarote.
If you do have an appreciation of nature, then time spent near the summit of Spain’s highest mountain is going to blow you away (hopefully not literally). Explore the paths, the further you walk from the cable car station, the more you’ll have the mighty volcano to yourself.
It is one of nature’s wonders and that alone makes the value of a trip on the cable car up Mount Teide’s slopes priceless.