Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya is a national park unlike any other in Spain, and if you’re planning a visit to Lanzarote a visit to this lunar landscape should be high on the agenda. Not only is the landscape in the park strange and peculiar, but it is also staggeringly beautiful and well worth a visit whether you’re a volcano enthusiast or not. Timanfaya national park lies in the South West of the island (covering the southern section of Tinajo and the northern section of Yaiza) and covers a total of 51,07km2 , which equates to a quarter of the islands total surface area. The area covered by the park was created by a huge eruption which began in 1730 and continued until 1736 during which time villages and fertile land were destroyed and large, black mountains rose from the ground, spilling magma over a large potion of the island and into the Atlantic Ocean. Today the area is composed of a combination of ash, rock, craters and volcanic cones and as a result, animal and plant life ceases to exist in large numbers. The landscape is composed of black, red and orange rock which gives the surreal impression that one has landed in the centre of a science-fiction movie and therefore provides the perfect photo opportunity!

Ways to explore the park

Due to protection laws, the Timanfaya National Park is closed off to the public to explore freely, however there are a number of ways in which you can explore and still experience the park in all its intrigue and glory. One of the most popular ways to see the park is by way of a 40 minute coach tour which follows a single road along the Ruta de los Volcanes. A commentary is played as you weave among the craters and volcanoes, which explains the history of the park as well as excerpts from Gustav Holst’s The Planets which definitely sets a space-aged scene. The coach makes regular stops to allow you to take photos of important sites although getting off the bus is strictly prohibited.

Another popular and more exciting way to experience the park is by camel. This 20 minute journey on the back of a dromedary is the perfect and most traditional way to experience what Timanfaya has to offer and is definitely a tour that you will never forget!

If camels aren’t your thing, guided walking tours are also available, although because of their popularity these fill up very quickly so make sure you book as soon as you arrive in Lanzarote.

The Timanfaya experience

There are numerous things to see and do at Timanfaya in addition to the tours that are available and many of these centre on its main attraction El Diablo Restaurant (Restaurant of the Devil). The chefs use the natural heat from the lava which bubbles just 13 metres below to cook some of Lanzarote’s traditional cuisine and its definitely worth catching a glimpse of the giant barbeque even if you’re not hungry. Outside there are also regular presentations by staff to demonstrate the natural 600ºC heat which is permanently produced just below the surface. Make sure you catch one of their demonstrations as they produce artificial geysers and set fire to plants using natural heat from holes in the ground, probably the closet you could possibly get to a live volcano! If you want to find out more about the history of Timanfaya and the volcanoes on the island, there is also a museum which exhibits rocks samples taken directly from the site.
For opening times and contact information visit: www.discoverlanzarote.com

César Manrique

Manrique was not only the designer of the Diablo logo of the Timanfaya national park and its restaurant, but he also played a very important part in the development of Lanzarote as a tourist destination and geologically important area. He had influence over building regulations on the island which opposed the construction of high-rise hotels and controlled how buildings on the island should appear in order not to destroy the natural beauty of their surroundings. He believed that it was important to prevent Lanzarote from being defaced by ugly hotels along its coastline and overly large buildings that would become eyesores. His home is now open to the general public and is definitely worth a visit. More like a luxury mansion, the house has a large swimming pool and even a dance floor and the interior has now been transformed into a museum and art gallery dedicated to his life and his hobbies. All proceeds from entrance tickets to view his house go towards the upkeep of the island and the running of the César Manrique foundation.
To find out more about his life and the role of the César Manrique Foundation visit: www.cesarmanrique.com