The Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote
|The National Park Timanfaya is located in the southwest of the island of Lanzarote. It stretches from the edge of the town of Yaiza up the mountain Montaña de Timanfaya. The park is divided between the municipalities of Yaiza and Tinajo.|
North, east and south, the National Park is surrounded by the Natural Park of the Volcanoes (Parque Natural de Los Volcanes); west of the Park Timanfaya is limited by the coast.
The access to the Park Timanfaya are on the LZ-67 highway that connects the towns of Yaiza and Mancha Blanca; the road encroaches a bit on the southeast corner of the National Park. LZ-67 crosses a malpaís (“Badlands”) covered with volcanic slag, from which emerge the thirty volcanic cones of Montañas del Fuego, the higher the volcano Timanfaya (510 m).
Leaving Yaiza northbound one notices first on the left - after 4 km - an unpaved parking area, with a small building: the station of camels (Echadero de los Camellos) from where tours depart by camel.
2 km further the LZ-602 road takes to the left, at a place called El Taro, and heads to the Islote de Hilario where large parking lots, as well as the panoramic restaurant El Diablo. The Volcano Route (Ruta de Los Volcanes) can not be made by private car; you must leave your car in the parking lot and use a park tour bus (included in the national park entrance).
If we continue on the LZ-67 road, 4 km past the intersection with the LZ-602, is located on the left the Visitors Centre of the National Park Timanfaya (Centro de Visitantes) which is only 2 km Mancha Blanca.
If you do not have a car, you can come by bus to Mancha Blanca by line No. 16 connecting the capital, Arrecife, in Tinajo and La Santa. We can then go on foot to the Visitors Center along the LZ-67 highway (less than 30 minutes walk). However, most visitors come to the park by bus excursions leaving every holiday resorts on the island.
| The Fire Mountain (Montañas del Fuego)|
|The Montañas del Fuego are the heart of the National Park Timanfaya. They were born eruptions that occurred between 1 September 1730 and 16 April 1736 and then in 1824, aligned with the north-east - south-west of the volcanic rift that runs through Lanzarote.|
The volcanoes that make up the National Park Timanfaya are Hawaiian kind: the volcanoes of this type form large columns of ash during the eruption and their components, lapilli or pozzolan, pushed by the wind, have covered vast areas and the slopes of the oldest craters. This extended covered by ash rain is now called Valle de la Tranquilidad (Valley of Peace).
These eruptions have created a landscape lunar aspect, totally inhospitable, which has become the symbol of the island of Lanzarote. The many massive volcanoes, lava with bizarre shapes and huge slag fields, sometimes reddish, sometimes blackish, offer a fascinating spectacle.
The center of the rash was located Maciso del Fuego (Fire Massif) top 525 m. This volcano is now covered by ash and slag eruptions of the eighteenth century, but it was found that the rear flank of the volcano, which still radiates a lot of heat, is composed of very old lava. The many rows of small chimneys (h ornitos) and volcanoes “parasites” (so named because they were formed at the foot of the central colossus) are interesting to observe.
Located east of the Montañas del Fuego, the imposing crater of the Caldera del Corazoncillo, the largest explosion crater Lanzarote, has a caldera with a depth of 100 m. It is the lava of the volcano that buried the village of Timanfaya.
Map of volcanoes Lanzarote: www.cabildodelanzarote.com/informacion/geografico/volcanes3.swf
|The National Park Timanfaya (Parque Nacional de Timanfaya)|
|To protect this unique geomorphological context, a National Park was established in 1974. The National Park Timanfaya only covers 51 km² (5,100 hectares), only about a quarter of the land affected by the volcanic eruptions of the eighteenth century (182 km²). The park boundaries are marked with an emblem representing a devil (“El Diablo”).|
The park has the highest possible level of protection for a natural area: Due to the fragility of the soil, freely roam the park is not allowed, as this could leave footprints that remain visible for years. One can visit the Park that bus. The only exceptions are two walks accompanied by the park staff.
With two million visitors per year, the Park of Timanfaya is the second most visited national park in Spain (after the National Park Teide in Tenerife). It is the largest tourist attraction in Lanzarote.
|The island of Hilary (Islote de Hilario)|
|From the road LZ-67, of Yaiza in Mancha Blanca, the small road LZ-602 leads in 2 km - after the entry toll - until the Islote de Hilario; there are a parking area, a panoramic restaurant and a gift shop.|
The Hilary Island is a volcanic hill that seems to emerge from the sea of volcanic scoria around it, like an island in the ocean. They say this place is named after a hermit named Hilario, who has lived 50 years with his dromedary (although this animal does not have such longevity). Hilario would have planted a fig tree that never gave fruit because “flowers could not feed the flame”. As a reminder of this story, a dead fig tree and camel bones are shown in a window of the panoramic restaurant “El Diablo” that César Manrique had built at this location. The Islote de Hilario is also named Tinecheide, which means “Mountain of Hell” in the language Guanche natives.
The Visitor Centre Islote de Hilario was designed by César Manrique and built by architect Eduardo Cáceres; it was completed in 1970. It is a circular building blackish basalt stones, with large windows.
The Island of Hilary is a volcanic cone older than the surrounding volcanoes, whose projections have formed the sea of dross that surrounds the island; However, the Islote de Hilario is one of the hottest places in the National Park Timanfaya. To demonstrate the spectacular demonstrations are presented to tourists:
- pozzolan of gravel, soil extracts, are put in the hands of visitors who can not keep them in hand;
- dry brush is placed in a shallow hole in the volcanic soil: they ignite spontaneously after a few seconds, to the delight of visitors;
- even more spectacular: water is poured into iron pipe driven into the ground to a depth of 12 meters: after 3 seconds a steam jet noisily burst pipe several meters high, as an artificial geyser that startles the audience;
Attraction is an idea of Jesús Soto, an employee of César Manrique, who had noticed during the construction of the restaurant, the workers poured water on their jackhammers to cool; he chose a particularly hot spot, there sank a pipe two meters and caused a “geyser”.
- the restaurant El Diablo, a well, dug in the ground and covered with a grid, serves as a natural grill when cooked grilled meat, chicken thighs or fish fillets.
|Soil temperature at this location indeed reached 140 °C a few centimeters from the surface; it goes up to 400 °C to 6 meters deep and 600 °C to 10 or 12 meters. This intense heat from a magma chamber located 4 kilometers from the surface, demonstrating the continuing volcanic activity in this area. However, the area does not present danger - current - although a smell of sulfur in the air.|
From the parking area leave the buses of the National Park who visit the Ruta de Los Volcanes.
|The Volcanoes Route (Ruta de los Volcanes)|
|Route of the Volcanoes is a discovery tour of the National Park Timanfaya; this circuit can only be made by bus or buses owned by the Park or coaches of tour operators on the island of Lanzarote or even Fuerteventura. The price of the bus tour is included in the National Park entrance fee. La Ruta de los Volcanes is closed to private cars.|
The route of the road was designed by César Manrique (always him!) so that the road was not visible from the esplanade of the Islote de Hilario, so as not to spoil the photographs; Unfortunately, buses - traveling in number on the road - are not, themselves, invisible ...
The circuit proposed by the Park runs about 14 kilometers and takes about 40 minutes; it allows you to see the most interesting part of the park; However, there are a wide variety of landscapes and different volcanic formations around the park. The light brown buses depart the Park - about every half hour - from the parking lot next to the restaurant of the Islote de Hilario. The bus makes only one stop, the Montaña Rajada; you have to take photographs through the windows. The view is better if you sit on the right side of the bus.
At the beginning of the journey is distributed a leaflet presenting facts and interesting statistics on the various volcanic edifices encountered.
The path introduces a lunar landscape to the austere beauty but amazingly colorful, including:
- the impressive sea of dross of the Valle de la Tranquilidad (“Valley of Peace”), with lapilli dunes (picón);
- craters (calderas) several hundred meters in diameter;
- degassing cones (hornitos, "biscuits”) as the Manto de la Virgen (“Virgin Coat”) that takes the ghostly form of a black coat;
- the steep walls of a volcanic tube (jameo), whose roof collapsed, the road crosses;
- the short stop near Montaña Rajada (350 m), located west of the Montañas del Fuego, you can see part of the National Park that extends to the west coast lined up along a fault , volcanic cones of the Caldera Rajada (164 m) (“boiler Rousse”), the Montaña Encantada (245 m) (“Mountain Magic”), the Montaña de Pedro Perico (134 m) and the Montaña Quemada (134 m) (“Burnt Mountain”), close to the coast. South of Montaña Encantada are still the Montaña de María Hernández (230 m) and Montaña Tremesana (328 m) where it is possible to visit hiking accompanied by Park staff.
Along the way speakers of the bus broadcast - Spanish, German and English - the eyewitness testimony of Father Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo, priest of Yaiza at the time of the eruptions in 1730 and the heroic music of Richard Wagner or Ludwig van Beethoven; at the end of the route sounded furious theme of “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss.
|Walk on the back of dromedary|
|In addition to the bus tour of the Volcano Route, it is possible to make a short camel ride toward the Montaña de Timanfaya (510 m). The camel station (Echadero de Camellos) is 2 km before the entrance of the Park in the south to Yaiza.|
The Echadero de Camellos has a large dirt parking beaten, café, toilets and a free museum that can wait until the next departure of the caravan. This small museum (Museo de Rocas) is the source of Montañas del Fuego, with specimens of rocks and minerals, and an exhibition on the use of “camels” on the island of Lanzarote. The station should instead appoint Camels station (Echadero de Dromedarios) because animals are used camels to a bump.
Camels are fitted on both sides of the bulge, two cradles of wood or iron, whose weight must be properly balanced: the camel add to this small sandbags as ballast, especially when one of passenger is a child. There are up to a hundred camels available to tourists. Each camel only work half a day, then returned to the barn, near Uga.
The walk on these “ships of the desert” lasts only twenty minutes through the reddish slag fields, and we see only a very small part of the National Park, but it was an awesome experience, especially for children: when the camel gets up tightly you hang on because the seat tipping forward.
The walks are possible every day from 9 am to 16: 30 pm (9 am to 16 pm in winter). They cost € 5 per person which is paid directly to the camel. The museum is only open from Monday to Friday.
|Hiking in the National Park of Timanfaya|
|Hiking is prohibited inside the National Park Timanfaya, with the exception of three walks organized by the Visitor Center and guided by Park staff: the Road Termesana, Short Route du Littoral and the Long Road Littoral.|
For guided tours must be booked in advance and it is advisable to book several months in advance as there are many demands and few places (7 participants per output). Moreover must confirm its participation two days before the tour, otherwise it loses its place. We can try to take advantage of the withdrawal of participants by enrolling one or two days before a hike. Reservations are made on site or by telephone number: 00 34928118042. The walks are free and are guided either in Spanish or English; must be over 16 years.
Guided hikes leave from the Visitors’ Centre; participants are driven by minibus to the starting point of the route.
Trek Termesana (Ruta de Termesana) takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, departing at 10 am; it is 4 km long round trip but lasts 3 hours (transfer time included) because the guide will stop frequently to comment on the landscape or flora. The hike passes the Montaña Tremesana, also called Montaña de Termesana, (328 m) to the southern boundary of the national park, and then passes between the Montaña de María Hernández and Montaña Encantada, where joins the lava flows of different kinds and colors several of these volcanoes.
Trek Short Littoral (Ruta corta del litoral) is 2 km long; it starts from the village of El Golfo and goes until about the Playa del Paso. It allows to observe the coastal cliffs created by the lava flows of the eighteenth century, and wildlife of seabirds, shellfish and crustaceans.
Hiking the Long Littoral (Ruta larga del litoral) takes place one Wednesday per month; is 9 km long and lasts 5 to 6 hours, due to the difficulties of walking on volcanic scoria, even if the terrain is relatively flat; must be deemed physically fit and have sufficient supplies and appropriate footwear. The road from El Golfo, south west of the National Park and leads to the Playa de la Madera, north of the park, where a trail allows hikers to renew the Visitors Centre.
Long Route du Littoral can also be made freely, as a coastal public domain, wide 50 meters, was declared “moderate use zone”; However, the rules of good conduct applicable thereto Park. South hiking can be to the north of Playa del Paso in Playa de la Madera, or in reverse. If you feel fit, you can continue after the Playa de la Madera to the Playa de Chó Gregorio, north of the Natural Park of Los Volcanes, but the simple go route is 14 km, and it is better predict a recovery vehicle on arrival. If you do not feel like we can turn back half way after reaching the small beach of Playa del Cochino.
To access the Playa del Paso, take the LZ-704 road to El Golfo, but, 1,5 km before the village, turn right on a dirt road (LZ-705) that goes to the left of the Montaña Quemada then arrives, after 4 km, Playa del Paso where you can park.
To access the Playa de Chó Gregorio from Tinajo, take the road towards the hamlet of Tenesar, but after 4 km, do not turn right to Tenesar and go straight to the Playa de Chó Gregorio.
|Unlike most national parks in the world, the Park of Timanfaya is almost desert plant or animal life; instead, visitors see a barren volcanic landscape, but colorful shades of black, gray, brown and red.|
It was only very slowly that the vegetation is somewhat reformed the Malpaís, “bad land”; but it is a slow process due to lack of rain - the average rainfall in the Park is only 120 mm per year.
We can still discover, here and there, over 180 species of lichens, ferns, small succulent plants and many small thorny shrubs (Aulaga majorera). These bushes are used by park staff to highlight the high ground temperature near the Islote de Hilario: bushes, dug into a hole in the ground, ignite immediately. On older untrained land lavas encountered some euphorbias concentrations.
|In the early eighteenth century, the southwest of Lanzarote owned land among the most fertile on the island, with many small agricultural villages. For six years, from 1 September 1730 to 16 April 1736 volcanic eruptions of Montañas del Fuego covered it the lava lands, slag and ash, burying entire villages.|
The priest of Yaiza, Father Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo, left a precise eye-witness of these events; his diary begins:
“On September 1,  between nine and ten o’clock at night the earth suddenly opened near Timanfaya two leagues from Yaiza. The first night a huge mountain rose from the bowels of the earth and its top escaped flames that continued to burn for nineteen days. A few days later, a new abyss was formed and a torrent of lava rushed over Timanfaya, on Rodeo and part of Mancha Blanca.”
For six years the sun was darkened; after the disaster, more than 167 square kilometers of land - nearly a fifth of the area of the island (846 km²) - had been covered by 48 million cubic meters of volcanic material spilled by thirty volcanoes, on a layer of 6 to 10 meters thick; the villages of Timanfaya, Los Rodeos, Mancha Blanca, Santa Catalina, Mazo, Jarretas, Tingafa, Peña de Palmas, Testeina, La Geria, Macintafe, Mozaga, Guagaro, Masdache and Iguadén were destroyed and farmland Maretas and of Chupaderos; 420 farms had been buried; cattle had been asphyxiated by toxic fumes; the shore was covered with thousands of dead fish, many of which belong to unknown species. There was no dead men but much of the population finally had no choice but to seek refuge in the north of Lanzarote or to leave the island to go to Gran Canaria; many more emigrated to Cuba or even to the province of Tejas in the Viceroyalty of Mexico, where they helped to found the village of San Antonio de Béxar, today the US town of San Antonio, Texas.
However, agriculture took possession of peripheral land: crops on volcanic sand, which acts as a humidity sensor and temperature controller, are now characteristic of Lanzarote.
The last volcanic eruption on the island of Lanzarote took place in 1824, after a long period of rest; the ten years preceding these eruptions had been punctuated by numerous earthquakes. The eruptions of 1824 were lower than those of the seventeenth century. July 31, 1824, the volcano Montaña del Clérigo Duarte erupted; the lava flow spread over 14 km² and near Punte del Cochino, flowed into the sea three new volcanoes sprang up. the volcano Montaña del Clérigo Duarte, also named volcano Tao, the Volcán Nuevo del Fuego, or Montaña del Chinero, and the volcano Tinguatón. The peculiarity of this eruption was the fluidity of the lava and the enormous columns of boiling salted water that were ejected from craters and flooded the area.
The eighteenth to the nineteenth century, the area of the island of Lanzarote has significantly increased due to the massive outpouring of lava on the west coast.
National Park Timanfaya was established in 1974 as the eighth national park in Spain.
|Free access on foot is allowed only on the coast of the National Park Timanfaya, through a path that runs along the shore. The other parties can not be viewed only through the walks organized by the Visitors’ Centre.|
|The National Park of Timanfaya is open from 9 am to 17: 45 (18: 45 pm from July to September); Last admission is at 17 pm (18 pm in summer).|
At rush hour, around 10 am, sometimes forms a traffic jam at the entrance of the park because of the number of cars and tour operators of buses queuing to pay the entrance fee in the Park. It is best to arrive early, before the arrival of tour buses, around 9 am, or late afternoon, after the departure of buses. More than half a million people visit the park each year.
The last coach to visit the Route of the Volcanoes from 17 pm (18 pm in summer); the latter circuit is less crowded and has better light that highlights the colors of volcanoes.
Admission: adults € 9; children € 4.5. These prices include a visit to the Ruta de los Volcanes.
Phone: 00 34 928 840 057
Site on the Web: www.magrama.gob.es/es/red-parques-nacionales/nuestros-parques/timanfaya/
|The visitor center (Centro de Visitantes)|
|The Visitors Centre of the National Park Timanfaya (Centro de Visitantes e Interpretación de Mancha Blanca) is 4 km north of the park entrance, and just 2 km from Mancha Blanca. The Centre is located on the left of the road just when the Park; It is housed in a white-painted building that is hard to miss, although it is half buried. In the background stands the volcano of Caldera Blanca (458 m). The Centre is outside the National Park, but inside the Natural Park of Los Volcanes.|
Opened in 1996, the Visitor Center has a large number of educational information in the fields of geology and geodynamics, about volcanoes in general and, in particular, on the volcanoes of Montañas del Fuego and flora and wildlife. The Centre implements modern media such as audio-visual presentations or interactive terminals. The Centro de Visitantes is wheelchair accessible.
In the basement, in a cavity in the layer of volcanic scoria, we can see a fairly impressive volcanic eruption simulation that takes place in the dark and uses all the senses, with rumbling, crackling, reddish lights that light up on the walls, fumes and vibrations, which give an idea of the terror that must have felt the people of the region in the 1730s. When a simulated eruption will take place an announcement is made by the speakers and the staff directs visitors to the "Hall of the eruption."
The Centre has large windows through which one can admire the neighboring volcanoes; a wooden walkway allows to advance a few tens of meters above blackish slag fields.
Visit the Visitor Center:
Address: Carretera Tinajo-Yaiza (LZ-67), Km 11,5.
Hours: daily, 9 am to 16 pm 30.
Admission: free admission.
Phone: 00 34 928 118 042
Site on the Web: www.mma.es/parques
Visitors to the center can find maps of the hiking trails (Mapa de Senderos) Park; it is also the only place where you can register for the guided walks organized by the National Park.
|Restaurant El Diablo|
|The restaurant El Diablo (the Devil) was designed by artist and architect César Manrique. This is a panoramic restaurant, circular, surrounded by windows: visitors can enjoy the view of the volcanic landscape while having lunch.|
The restaurant is built on top of a volcanic edifice which, according to volcanologists, has a geothermal anomaly: extremely high temperatures lie just below the surface. These temperatures are caused by gases that rise from a magma chamber located several kilometers deep. The center of these anomalies is located on the Islote de Hilario, who asked the restaurant’s manufacturers a huge technical challenge. Jesús Soto, longtime collaborator Manrique, has developed a system whereby overheating of the building could be saved: alternating layers of concrete, clay and rock. Only fire-resistant materials were used in construction of the restaurant.
The restaurant El Diablo takes advantage of this geothermal feature: it uses a grill located above a volcanic vent, which are cooked meat and fish fillets. The kitchen is not outstanding but the prices are reasonable.
The shop sells a variety of souvenirs, as well as many interesting books.
Restaurant hours: 12 h to 16 h 45 (15 h 45 in winter).
Hours cafeteria and shop: 9 am to 17 pm 50 (16 h 50 in winter).