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Tenerife (Peak of Tenerife)

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In Cook's era, the high volcanic peak of the Atlantic island of Tenerife was an important navigational landmark.

A mountain range traverses the island of Tenerife along its greatest length from north east to south east, culminating in a volcanic crater nearly ten kilometres in diameter called Las Cañadas.

On the western edge of Las Cañadas is El Teide, the third largest volcano on Earth and the highest in the Atlantic Ocean.

When eighteenth century voyagers spoke of the Peak of Tenerife, they were referring to the Pico del Tiede, the summit of El Teide, which stands 3718 metres above sea level and can be seen from all the Canary Islands.

A shield volcano, El Teide is still active, and erupted violently in 1909, flooding the southern parts of Las Cañadas with lava.

In the eighteenth century, the Peak was usually climbed from the town of Oratava on the northern side of the island. On leaving the cultivated lowlands, parties traveled by mule up over heath that gave way to steep basalt slopes covered by Codeso bushes before entering the Llano de la Retama. Here, the ground sloped more gently, and was covered to a considerable depth with white pumice gravel, among which grew Retama bushes, amongst which the islanders placed beehives yielding a rich honey.

After crossing the Llano, travelers reached the base of the cone, where they often spent the night, before proceeding on foot up over rocks of black lava, before reaching the white pumice and ashes below the peak. It generally took between 20 and 24 hours to ascend the peak and return to Oratava.


Prepared by: Turnbull, P
Created: 4 October 2001
Modified: 28 February 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000046

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