The island of Lobos in Fuerteventura
|General presentation||Etymology and toponymy|
|The Isla de Lobos (“Island of the Wolves”) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean north-east of the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. This almost uninhabited small island - officially 4 inhabitants - is fully protected by a natural park, the Natural Park of the Island of Lobos (Parque Natural del Islote de Lobos).||The Island of the Wolves (Isla de Lobos and Isla de los Lobos) is named for the large population of Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus), who lived there until the fifteenth century, and the inhabitants popularly named “lobos marinos”(sea bass). Because of its small size and the fact that it is uninhabited, the Isla de Lobos is sometimes called Islote de Lobos (“Island of the Wolves”).|
|The island of Lobos is located in the Strait of Bocaina (Estrecho de la Bocaina) that separates the island of Fuerteventura island of Lanzarote. The Isla de Lobos is clearly visible from the port of Corralejo; the distance between the Punta de Tivas - southeast of Corralejo - and Lobos is only 1.8 km (1 nautical mile). The channel separates Fuerteventura to Lobos is commonly called El Río (River); its depth does not exceed 30 meters, but the sea currents are powerful; this is a paradise for divers. Harbour Corralejo to the small port of the island of Lobos (El Puertito) the distance is 4 km.|
The distance between Lobos and Lanzarote (Punta del Papagayo) is 8 km.
The island of Lobos is a volcanic island with an area of 4.7 km² and a perimeter of 13.7 km. Its highest point is the volcano of La Caldera, which rises to 127 m; there are other smaller volcanoes. The age of the island of Lobos is estimated between 6,000 and 8,000 years. The landscape of the island is barren.
Administratively the island of Lobos is part of the municipality of La Oliva.
| The islet of the Wolves (Islote de los Lobos)|
|The visit to the island of Los Lobos can be done in a day or half a day: the first regular shuttle arrived about 10 am 30; the last shuttle back from 17 h. The island is a protected natural area: limited access to restricted areas and a series of hiking trails, marked with directional signs. The visit is on foot: motor vehicles are prohibited on the island. Campsite - once allowed - not allowed on the island.|
The shuttle from the port of Corralejo landed visitors on the pier (El Muelle) south of the island near the hamlet of El Puertito. We can start by visiting the Welcome Centre (“Centro de Interpretación”) that provides information on the geology, flora and fauna of Los Lobos.
If one goes around the island counterclockwise a watch - starting on the right - we soon encounter the hamlet of El Puertito; if one intends to lunch on the island, it is best to book a meal - on arrival - at the only restaurant on the island.
Facing El Puertito you can see the cove Caleta de la Rasca; after leaving the hamlet we approach the zone Las Lagunitas. It then heads - northbound - towards Punta Martiño where stands the lighthouse Martiño. The return route passes near the Caleta de la Madera (Creek of the Wood) and then continue towards the mountain of La Caldera : from the way many trails allow climbing to the summit of the volcano.
Going down the volcano of La Caldera cross the malpaís, sparsely vegetated balsamiferous euphorbia (Euphorbia balsamifera) (tabaiba dulce) and then along the old salt marshes before arriving near the beach of La Caleta, a beach turquoise waters popular with surfers. Before leaving the island, you can swim on the Playa de la Concha (Beach of the Shell), a sandy beach sheltered deep in a creek.
|The natural park of the island of Los Lobos|
|The uninhabited island of Lobos includes valuable habitats, remained in its natural state, which grows about 142 species of plants, many of which are endemic to Macaronesia, the Canary Islands or even this one island. The island is also a habitat for many species of birds sailors, including migratory birds.|
The ecological value of the island led in 1982 to its protection as a nature reserve, included throughout the Dunes Natural Park of Corralejo and Island of Los Lobos. In 1994, the Dunes of Corralejo and Island of Los Lobos were separated into two distinct natural park. The Parque Natural del Islote de Lobos is also a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA). The seabed is an underwater reserve area and contain ecologically rich: it is forbidden to fish there.
The islet of Lobos is divided into several areas: areas that can be used by the general public and those designated as reserve and where we can not penetrate.
ZUG: general purpose area (in pink on the map); ZUM: moderate use zone (light green); ZUR: Restricted area (dark green); ZE: exclusion zone (blue) è
|The hamlet of El Puertito|
|From the landing a path off to the right towards the hamlet of El Puertito, along the cove Caleta de la Rasca. This is the least protected sector of the island affected by the constructions related to fishing activities. Some houses still used as weekend homes for fishermen.|
|Los Roques del Puertito|
|Small lagoons (Las Lagunitas)|
|To the west of the island, the path soon reaches a zone of saline land, sausuires (saladares) named Las Lagunitas, or Las Lagunillas, a periodically flooded area by sea water during high tides. This is an area of great scientific interest where salinization has enabled the development of salt-tolerant vegetation; the coastal part is exclusion zone.|
In Lagunitas can be observed statice oval leaves or saladelle oval leaves the Canaries (Limonium ovalifolium subspecies canariense [Pignatti]) (siempreviva de la laguna). This strictly halophilic plant is endemic highly restricted: the only known populations are found on the island of Lobos. It is a plant evergreen; the leaves are arranged in a rosette form and spatula; inflorescence branched in the upper half; small blue flowers with conspicuous bracts, are grouped on the cob.
|Three small volcanoes, Las Tres Hermanas, marking the end of saladar of Las Lagunitas.|
|Lighthouse Martiño (Faro de Martiño)|
|Halfway through the circuit, at the northern tip of the island, the Punta Martiño, stands the lighthouse Lobos (Faro de Lobos) or lighthouse Martiño. This lighthouse was built during the second half of the nineteenth century, around 1863, by engineer Juan León y Castillo in a neoclassical design but with typical Canarian elements such as the central patio.|
The lighthouse was the first place of permanent residence on the island of Lobos with the necessary facilities for daily life such as an oven, laundry, yard, agricultural plots and tanks to store water rain. These tanks (aljibes) were very important because they were the only drinking water supply of the island; they were buried and coated with lime and mortar to seal.
The lighthouse was inhabited until 1968 by a lighthouse keeper, Antonio Hernández Páez, nicknamed Antoñito el Farero, and his family. At that time the lighthouse was automated.
In this lighthouse was born in 1903, the poet and artist Josefina Plá who later lived in Paraguay and died in 1999; a plaque recalls his memory.
“A Josefina Plá :
Quien nunca Olvido que era Canaria, y para más majorera.
Por ella supimos que se pueden cambiar sombras por sueños.”
“At Josefina Plá:
Who never forgot she was Canarian, and more majorera.
Thanks to her, we learned that shadows can turn into dreams.”
|Since the lighthouse Martiño we see the south coast of the island of Lanzarote and the resort of Playa Blanca.|
|Near the lighthouse are salty land (saladar del faro), flooded periodically, but less than those of Las Lagunitas.|
|From the lighthouse the circuit again towards the south to the Montaña La Caldera. On the right path passes by two creeks, the Caleta del Vino and Caleta de la Madera.|
|The mountain of La Caldera|
|The mountain of La Caldera is the highest peak on the island of Lobos, with 127 m of altitude. This volcano is the extension of the chain of volcanoes - oriented southwest to northeast - north of Fuerteventura, which includes the Calderon Hondo and Bayuyo.|
The top of the Caldera is in the exclusion zone, and it is - in principle - need to ask the Centro de Interpretación permission to climb the mountain; but - in practice - no one cares.
The climb to the summit takes about 20 minutes; it is quite difficult, because the side is steep and rough staircase is in poor condition. The narrow edge of the crater glance down toward the bottom half is invaded by the sea and form the Caleta del Palo: the eruption has indeed destroyed the northwest part of the volcanic cone, which is collapsed into the sea.
To the northeast gaze extends to the lighthouse Martiño then to Lanzarote. South slopes of the volcano form the Malpaís towards El Puertito. In the southwest we see the Dunes Park of Corralejo bordered by Playas Grandes. To the west, the resort of Corralejo.
|The Plaguelands (Malpaís)|
|Going down the volcano cross the Malpaís (Eastern Badlands), a washing area and basaltic volcanic ash that give the landscape a rough appearance. The Malpaís emerge some degassing cones made of slag, appointed hornitos. Other hornitos can be seen on the sea front, where they were partially dismantled by sea erosion.|
|After Malpaís the path tackles a flat area; on the right you can see the remains of disused salt marshes and the beach of La Caleta, a windy beach popular with surfers.|
Then the path goes to the back of the beach of La Concha (“Shell Beach”), masked by low dunes, at the bottom of a small bay. La Playa de La Concha, also known as Playa de La Calera is a beach of fine golden sand, crescent-shaped and sheltered from waves by a rocky cape, the Paso de la Orchilla. The calm waters make possible swimming.
Near the beach of La Concha is a statue of Josefina Plá.
The road then continues to the pier of the maritime shuttle.
|The flora of the island of Lobos|
|The distribution of plant species is strongly influenced by the type of substrate on which they grow and the marine influence more or less. We distinguish four main growing areas, but there are many plant species that are found in more than one medium.|
- The sausuires (saladares): the type of vegetation growing in this medium is strictly halophile. It appears in low-lying areas situated near the coast and regularly flooded by high tides. We distinguish statice oval leaves (Limonium ovalifolium subspecies canariense) (siempreviva de Lobos), endemic species with a very restricted distribution, since the population of Lobos seem to be the only one of the Canary Islands. In addition, the environment is characterized mainly by species of the family Chenopodiaceae, such as Traganum Moquin (Traganum moquinii) (balancón), the Chenoleoides tomentosa, the perennial Salicornia (Sarcocornia perennis) (having here one of the largest populations archipelago), the frankenia laevis (Frankenia laevis) (tomillo sapo) atriplex creepy (Atriplex glauca) atriplex halime (Atriplex halimus) (saladillos) etc. The edges of sausuires - not flooded regularly - have a transitional vegetation with those areas of sand or Plaguelands.
- Clay basins: the clay basins are depressions with accumulations of silty clay materials, which are more common in the southern part of the island. Water accumulation occurs there during the rainy season and there again Marine infiltrations. This growing medium is characterized by the presence of dense species, also common to those of sausuires, among which are species such as real soda (Suaeda vera) (matomoro), the Salsola divaricata, the tree launée (Launaea arborescens), the Limonium tuberculatum, the Chenoleoides tomentosa, the Salsola tetrandra, the spurge balsamiferous (Euphorbia balsamifera) (tabaiba dulce) and Sarcocornia fruticosa. Floristic composition varies with the moisture content and soil salinity. The Sarcocornia fruticosa is rare in the Canary Islands and is also rare here, so it appears only in wet basins. The Limonium tuberculatum is a rare species in the Canary Islands, the largest population is located in Lobos.
- Coastal sandy areas and from within: in sandy areas live plants resistant to salt, the most representative are the Salsola vermiculata the fabagelle of Desfontaines (Zygophyllum fontanesii) (uvilla de mar), the frankénie heather leaves (Frankenia ericifolia), the Polycarpaea nivea (lengua de pájaro), the Limonium tuberculatum, the Limonium papillatum and Atriplex halimus. The latter is present only on the side, while the other species are also found therein. One can note the presence of Lanzarote lotus (Lotus lancerottense) in parts of the coast, and dispersed populations of Euphorbia balsamifera and Lycium intricatum.
- the Plaguelands (malpaíses): the island of Lobos is covered in its central and southeast parts by recent basalt flows that constitute a malpaís discontinuous dotted with small plates of sand and clay. Vegetation Plaguelands consists mainly of Euphorbia balsamifera and Suaeda vera, but also Launaea arborescens, the Lycium intrincatum, the Kleinia neriifolia, the Euphorbia regis-jubae and, occasionally, the Asparagus arborescens and Phagnalon rupestre.
|The fauna of the island of Lobos|
|On the island of Lobos were identified 21 breeding species, although some, such as the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and the Barbary falcon (Falco pelegrinoides) are considered extinct in the island, and others - as the barn owl (Tyto alba), common tern (Sterna hirundo) (charrán común) and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis) (guirre) - are very rare.|
Breeding birds nest in Lobos in different parts of the island. So while waders prefer to be near the coast and the steppe passerine birds abound inside. These include species such as the Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata), the red-backed shrike (Lanius excubitor), the hoopoe (Upupa epops), the githagine finch (Bucanetes githagineus), Berthelot’s Pipit (Anthus berthelotii) , partridge gambra (Alectoris barbara) and Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae) which still sporadic and limited presence, was observed on some occasions in the sandy area of the north of the island.
Nesting areas for sea birds and raptors are the Caldera, cliffs, rocks and hornitos. The most common species are the Shearwater Scopoli (Calonectris diomedea) (pardela cenicienta or pardela grande), the little shearwater (Puffinus assimilis), Bulwer’s petrel (Bulweria bulwerii), the storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), the storm petrels (Oceanodroma castro) and the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis subspecies atlantis) (gaviota argéntea). Usually, these species do not stay more than 3 or 4 months on the island, and most often by alternating periods. Among the raptors were observed as nesting on the island, kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), the barn owl (Tyto alba) (last observation in 1988) and the Egyptian vulture (guirre) (last observation in 1992). In addition, we know an old osprey nest in Roque Cercado.
Migratory birds occupy the coastal lowlands where there is a large concentration of food; the busiest area is the area extending from the Playa de la Concha to Los Toscones and Las Lagunitas. Among the migratory birds threatened Lobos include the Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) and common tern (Sterna hirundo). The main threats to these species are, among others, poaching, predation by feral cats (cat a campaign was carried out in September 1992), habitat destruction, etc.
There are also over 15 wintering and migratory species that congregate on the island but do not nest on the island: plovers, sandpipers, turnstones, curlews, herons, egrets and spoonbills, including the Sanderling (Calidris alba), dunlin (Calidris alpina), the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), the barking knight (Tringa nebularia), the pale swift (Apus pallidus), the single-colored swift (Apus unicolor).
|The monk seal|
|The islet of Lobos is named for the abundant population of Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) living there. These seals are named monk seals because of visible fat on their necks decline, suggesting the hood pulled monks. These monk seals (focas monjes del Mediterráneo) were nicknamed “lobos marinos” (sea bass) by the population because of their plaintive cries evoking the wolves. The monk seal lived all archipelagoes of Macaronesia (Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde Islands) and much of the Atlantic coast of Africa, from Morocco to Mauritania.|
When at the beginning of the fifteenth century (1402) the Norman conquerors, led by Gadifer de La Salle, stayed on the island of Lobos to prepare the conquest of Fuerteventura they ravitaillèrent killing of seals for food and for making shoes with their skin. Until the nineteenth century monk seals were slaughtered by fishermen because they thought their voracity reduced the fish resources in the surrounding waters: each of these animals has indeed need 30 to 40 kg of fish per day. The seals were also a source of meat, fat and leather. As a result of this hunting, the species disappeared from the island and its presence is not occasional.
Today, the Atlantic has only two sedentary colonies: one at Cape Blanco, to the border of Western Sahara and Mauritania, the second on the islands Desertas, southeast of Madeira. In the Mediterranean, the species survives only in the Aegean Sea and, to a lesser extent, on the North African coast. Not now boasting that fewer than 400 representatives, the species is endangered. The case of the survivors are now protected, and there is a reintroduction project of the monk seal in Lobos, despite opposition from fishermen.
|From the marina of Corralejo (Muelle deportivo de Corralejo) several providers offer trips to the island of Lobos.|
5 to 7 crossing per day depending on the season, between 10 am and 16: 30 pm. Last return at 17 pm. Crossing time: 15 minutes.
Price: about 15 € return; children € 7.50.
Ticket sales at the kiosk on the Paseo Marítimo, near the Pescadería.
Phone: 00 34 619 307 949, 00 34 646 531 068 or 00 34 699 687 294
Site on the Web: www.excursionesmaritimaslobos.com
|Weather and forecasts|
|The campsite was formerly allowed for a maximum of 3 nights in a unique location of the island, named “La Carpinteria ," located between the pier and the hamlet of El Puertito, free but without any equipment. You had to ask permission from the Environment Agency (Oficina de Medio Ambiente) of Cabildo de Fuerteventura (phone: 00 34928862300).|
|There is a restaurant in El Puertito, the Chiringuito, run by the descendants of the last lighthouse keeper, Antoñito el Farero. Meals must be reserved before noon.|
paella and grilled seafood fish.
Flat from € 9.
Hours: 11 am to 14 pm. Sandwiches (bocadillos) are available outside of these hours.
Phone: 00 34 609 067 946