If you are interested in volcanic landscapes you will love the Canarian island of Lanzarote. Large areas of the island are covered with recent lava flows. There are long stretches of stark, black coastline, impressive lava tubes, and no less than 151 volcanic peaks!
The Timanfaya National Park is the area of Lanzarote which has seen the most recent volcanic activity. Access to much of the park is limited to protect this important and delicate environment. Recent lava flows (from 200 to 300 years ago) are being very slowly colonized by lichens, plants and insects – a process which could so easily be disturbed.
Timanfaya National Park Visitor Centres
There are, however, several ways to visit the park. Following Route 67 west from Tinajo, you will find a very informative Visitor Centre on the right after passing Mancha Blanca. Here there are interesting displays about the history, geology and ecology of the park, and regular audiovisual presentations. These are usually in Spanish, but you can use earphones to listen in English, French or German (either buy them in the excellent visitor shop or take your own).
The centre also has an outdoor raised walkway where you can get a close look at the lava, and the plants and lichens that are colonizing it.
Further along Route 67 there is a second visitor centre where you can join a coach Tour through the volcanic landscape. Be aware that this is popular and can be very busy.
And further along still there is another site where you can take a camel ride into the park. Camels have been on the island for many years, and in the past were used for transporting agricultural produce, but are now a major tourist attraction.
Another option, which we chose, is to book a guided tour which takes you into the Timanfaya National Park.
A number of tours are available. We chose the 3-Volcanoes Guided Walking Tour which we booked through Viator, and we really enjoyed it.
We were picked up in the morning at our hotel and driven with a small group to the park. The tour then involved three separate walks to explore three very different volcanoes.
First was a gentle climb to the crater rim of La Rilla, on a well constructed path (not too steep).
The views here are terrific. You can see volcanic craters which have clearly collapsed, and the resulting lava which has flowed out.
The landscape is strikingly bare, but still strangely beautiful.
When you reach the crater rim of La Rilla, you can see into the impressive crater. There is a dome of cooled lava at the bottom, and volcanic “spatter” on the sides where lava fountains have landed on the crater wall.
Although predominantly bare, there are plants growing in the area. Recent rainfall resulted in there being more greenery and flowers than usual when we visited, which was a pleasure to see.
The second volcano the tour visits is the strikingly red Montana Colarada.
The red colour is caused by iron oxidation. The tour follows a section of a path around the base of the volcano, where there are several information boards.
Another interesting feature is an enormous volcanic bomb. There is mystery as to how such a large bomb was produced, as none of the surrounding volcanoes should have been powerful enough.
Volcan del Cuervo
The third volcano visited on the tour is Volcan del Cuervo. Here you actually walk into the collapsed crater to explore the inside.
It is fascinating seeing the different colours and textures inside the crater. And we were also lucky enough to see (and hear) a rare barbary falcon which nests in the crater.
If you have any interest at all in volcanoes we highly recommend this tour.
Although we have been to several other volcanic destinations (see our posts on the Aeolian Islands, Iceland and The Azores), we still learned a lot of new things about volcanoes. The guides were really enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.
The tour we chose was the 3-Volcanoes Guided Walking Tour. The tour included being picked up and dropped off at our hotel, all transport, English-speaking guides and an excellent light lunch. The total length of the tour, including journey time, was around 6 hours.
The tour did of course involve quite a lot of walking. There were no steep or difficult slopes, but the loose grit and stones make it quite tiring and rough on the feet, so you need suitable footwear. Also remember that the park can be quite windy and cold, so even if it is warm at the coast do take a jumper or jacket to cover up if necessary.
For other tours in the Timanfaya National Park click here.
For all Lanzarote tours available through Viator click here.
To search for accommodation in Lanzarote see this page at booking.com.
To read about some great places to visit independently see our earlier post on Lanzarote.
For some great walks see our earlier posts on Gentle Walks in Lanzarote and A Day Trip to La Graciosa.
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