Just a four-hour flight away from London lies Lanzarote and the promise of guaranteed sunshine that is too good to resist when the British winter has overstayed its welcome.
Lanzarote is the most easterly of the Canary Islands emerging about 15 million years ago after the break-up of the continental plates of Africa and America. The island was born through fiery volcanic activity and its most recent eruptions in the 18th and 19th centuries left behind a ravaged ‘Martian’ landscape of lava fields and dramatic rock formations.
A speck on the map in the Atlantic Ocean situated off the northwest coast of Africa, Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the Canary Islands, although locals say it is possible to drive from one end to the other in two hours. But who would want to do that when there is so much to see?
This is my 100th post and what better way to mark a blogging milestone than a visit to a volcano!
The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago and each one blends Spanish influences with its own unique identity. Lanzarote is said to be the most visually striking – a scorched earth of volcanic ash, crumbling rocks, craters and caverns, and lava coastlines – perfect for artistic travel photography!
We stayed at one of the larger resorts at Puerto del Carmen. After a day spent at the poolside, we ventured out to explore the island’s famous Timanfaya National Park, which was established in 1974 to protect the volcanic landscape.
The Grand Tour started with a dromedary ride across the weird lunar desert. (The dromedary is the one-humped or Arabian camel and it gets the hump if you call it a camel, apparently. The term ‘camel’ usually means the two-humped Bactrian camel.)
As our dromedary caravan set off we passed the point of no return – the devil’s sign. The devil is the symbol of Timanfaya where he still lives, of course. Devilish signs are found throughout Lanzarote because early settlers thought the volcanic eruptions were caused by a demon.
Lanzarote is currently declared a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO and large regions of this adventure island are only accessible by coach. So after a fun ride on the dromedaries we took the Ruta de los Volcanes (Route of the Volcanoes) by coach to experience the Montanas del Fuego (Mountains of Fire) up close.
At Islote de Hilario, where the ground was warm beneath our feet, we witnessed ground tests of the volcano. Our guide told us to stand in a circle as hot gravel was dug up and poured into our hands. A burning brush thrust into a pit in the ground and water thrown into holes ejecting turbulently upwards was more evidence of geothermal activity.
There was even a cooking demonstration at El Diablo restaurant where chickens and vegetable kebabs were slowly roasted over geothermal heat on a cast-iron grill. The restaurant was designed by celebrated artist and architect César Manrique (24 April 1919–25 September 1992) who was born in Arrecife, Lanzarote. His artistic influence is seen across the island.
And while we couldn’t wander freely around the volcanoes, we were given short breaks to take in the hauntingly beautiful scenery. Here are a few pictures of me and John, a far more intrepid traveller, exploring the semi-active volcano of Timanfaya and the choppy coastline of Los Hervideros.
As our coach continued to snake around the sleeping fire mountain of Timanfaya, we were treated to a movie-style commentary of Lanzarote ‘on location’. The island has provided the backdrop for a number of films, including One Million Years BC, Enemy Mine, Krull, Clash of the Titans (2010 remake) and Doctor Who: Planet of Fire.
I love this picture taken from inside the coach because the tint of the glass creates a ‘technicolor’ old Hollywood movie effect. I could imagine Raquel Welch running over the hill in her famous cave-girl bikini chased by a plasticine dinosaur.
We winded through the famous wine region of La Gería where vineyards grow out of volcanic lapilli – little stones that fell out of the air and coated the ground during the volcanic eruptions. Single vines are grown in individual pits protected from the wind by low curved stone walls. This agricultural technique makes an attractive feature across the mountains and the vines are among the few plants to be seen other than cacti and hardy lichens.
Our visit included a free wine tasting and more opportunity to indulge in arty photography!
After a quick stop at Lanzarote’s famous cactus garden, Jardin de Cactus, which is home to the world’s spiniest plants and the most out-of-place windmill, our tour finished at Jameos del Agua – an underground volcanic passage formed at the foot of the volcano Monte de la Corona.
Jameos del Agua is a place of incredible natural beauty enhanced by the artistic touches of César Manrique. The cave system is part of a volcanic tube where local people once hid from marauding pirates and I could imagine this as a scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean.
The underground lagoon is also home to a unique species of blind albino crabs, which can be seen everywhere in the black water like tiny white stars.
The Grand Tour done, we hired a pedalo-style bike to explore the long beaches of Puerto del Carmen and discovered the flavours of the old town. There is a lot more to Lanzarote than volcanoes, there is also sun, sea and sand, spas, shops, bars, restaurants and a night life that was quite well hidden out-of-season!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my 100th post. And while it’s back to bees next time, here’s a little video of Lanzarote holiday memories.
This post is dedicated to my grandmother Antoiné Dees who was a talented photographer and adventurous traveller. I only hope that I can follow half as far in her footsteps.
Congratulations on 100th post milestone. I like the way your posts are regular but not so frequent I hardly have time to read one before the next one is upon me. gives me time to reflect. And as for celebrations – having the bees fly in UK warmth is almost as good as an exotic volcano!
Life has conspired recently to not allow regular blogging, although I’m in awe of daily bloggers – how do they do it? I can barely keep up reading all the blogs that I follow!
I agree – a long warm sunny summer will be all the celebrations we need for our bees 🙂
Thanks Linda! It was an amazing holiday!
Love this post! It reminds me of the Galapagos. I am nearing my 100th post also.
Wow, I’ll definitely check in for your 100th post – it feels like a real achievement doesn’t it?! So jealous of your visit to Galapagos, that’s definitely on my list of places to go. You should write a post on it 🙂
Wow, a trip to a real volcano. My kids would LOVE that (so would I).
What great photos, it looks like you had a fantastic time. Well done on the 100th post too. 😀
I recently shared your zombie vs sunflower post with fellow zombie fans on Twitter and at work and they loved it! Proof that zombies have educational value! 😉 As for the volcano – no zombies there, or bees – but the kids would have LOVED it!
😀 I am glad they liked it, I’m pleased that I could share some of my apocalypse survival tools. 😉
Cute pedalo bikes. You got up to so many fun things, really makes me want to go.
A perfect holiday for you and Drew – lots of opportunities for arty photos although I didn’t see a bee!
What a good way to celebrate you 100th post. I could do with a local geothermal source for cooking, would save on the electricity bill.
Emily … I enjoyed the trip! I really enjoy your post … Look for daily. Thanks for a job well done. Herb
Pingback: Day 21 OF April blog Love Challenge | Linda's New Garden & Wildlife Journey
What an adventure! Wonderful photos, Em!
Thanks Lis. It was an inspiring place – very artistic x
Congrats on 100. What a wonderful trip with many sights to see, looks like you had an enjoyable time.
It was amazing and coincidentally my 100th post, but that was fun too!
Emily saw some queen wasps at the apiary last Saturday – no doubt awesome creatures but too fast and scary to capture on camera. Your wicked photography skills were needed!
Nice one, EST! [Raquel Welch – how often does she get a name-check these days?]
Raquel Welch – icon!
Great photographs, I enjoyed my armchair tour.
Thanks! An armchair tour is no bad thing – it was very windy there!
Hi and congrats for the pix and for your 100th post! 🙂 We spent one week in Lanzarote last December, we loved it, more then Tenerife! 🙂 I posted here about this unique Canarian Island:
– – –
My very best and bonne continuation! 🙂 Friendly thoughts from Toulouse, France… Mélanie
Hi Mélanie, thanks for dropping by. I’ll definitely visit your Lazarote post too 🙂 I’ve heard Tenerife is more colourful with more flora than Lanzarote, each island definitely seems to have its own identity!
Oooh! I’m envious. That looks like it was a bunch of fun! Some really wonderful pics, and I think it’s sweet you dedicated your post to your grandmother. She would be proud, no doubt!
Thanks so much! She was a real traveller and adventurer – so many places to see in the world…
Lovely 100m post- the pictures of the cave and pool are fabulous. Grandmother would be proud.
Thanks so much. I’m told my grandmother read the post from my mother’s iPad in Germany and smiled.
What a great post, one of my favourite places. Nowhere I have ever been compares the lunar like landscape. I’ve been twice and was in just as much awe the second time as I was the first time.
Glad you enjoyed the virtual volcano tour! Love to explore the other Canary Islands too.
Pingback: In the Land of Fire and Ice | Miss Apis Mellifera