PN Timanfaya, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

PN Timanfaya and the Fire Mountains of Lanzarote

Resilient Vegetation
Shrubs grow despite the arid soil of PN Timanfaya.
Little Heart Caldera
One of many dozens of craters and caldera dotting southwestern Lanzarote from PN Timanfaya.
Echadero de los Camellos
Dromedaries ready to carry visitors on PN Timanfaya's Echadero de los Camellos.
Immediate combustion
Shrub combusts in a few seconds, due to the high temperature below ground in the Islote de Hilario.
The Preferred Landing
Pair of crows dominates the top of Montaña Rajada.
El Diablo and the cyclist
Cyclist takes a break on his return to see "El Diablo", the symbol of the PN Timanfaya created by César Manrique.
The Devil
The symbol "El Diablo" by PN Timanfaya, created by artist from Lanzarote, César Manrique.
Meanders between Lava
Meanders of the PN Timanfaya road, between two lava walls.
Fatah and her Dromedaries
Moroccan Fatah, caretaker and driver of the camels that transport visitors to PN Timanfaya.
provoked geyser
PN Timanfaya worker pours a bucket of water into a tube that connects to the basement and immediately generates a geyser.
Stringed Lava
A sector of stringed lava stands out from the lava-covered expanse of PN Timanfaya.
Mantle of the Virgin
One of the park's many hornitos, called Manto de la Virgen by the locals.
the great lava straight
A long straight straight across the lava base connects the houses of Yaiza and Uga to the entrance to PN Timanfaya.
El Diablo Restaurant Grill
A cook at the El Diablo restaurant grills food over a natural chimney on the Islote el Hilário.
Rotunda de Los Camellos Dromedaries
Dromedary statues erected in a roundabout near Yaiza, in honor of these animals that have long helped the inhabitants of Lanzarote.
Lava vineyards
Round walls delimit plantation areas now inside PN Timanfaya.
The Sea of ​​Lava
A bed left by the flow of lava furrows the rugged and cratered plain of the Sea of ​​Lavas.
Hilário Islote Center Building
The building designed by César Manrique and barely distinguishable from the Islote de Hilário.
The Sea of ​​Tranquility
The geological waves of the Mar de la Tranquilidad, orange with the concentration of bagacina.
old craters
Craters collapsed from the Sea of ​​Lavas.
Between 1730 and 1736, out of nowhere, dozens of volcanoes in Lanzarote erupted successively. The massive amount of lava they released buried several villages and forced almost half of the inhabitants to emigrate. The legacy of this cataclysm is the current Martian setting of the exuberant PN Timanfaya.

We had landed for the first time in Lanzarote two days earlier. It wouldn't be the last.

As we approach Uga, the unexpected sight of a colony of dromedaries detached from the roundabout that precedes the village surprises us.

We walked along the entire southern edge of the village's white houses. After which we find ourselves between Uga's and Yaiza's neighbor.

Once again, we are at the door of the town. The right course dictated a drastic change of direction.

Henceforth, with the mountains yellowing in the back, pointing north of Lanzarote, we entered a vast domain of rough and black land.

The straight line through which we enter it undulates and shakes us according to the whims of the lava mold on which it rests.

A few kilometers later, the rawness of the Dantesque panorama so gripped our minds that the recent astonishment caused by the stone camels no longer fits in them.

PN Timanfaya, Fire Mountains, Lanzarote, roundabout de los Camellos

Dromedary statues erected in a roundabout near Yaiza, in honor of these animals that have long helped the inhabitants of Lanzarote.

The Secular History of Dromedaries, the Tractors of Lanzarote

The dromedaries arrived in the Canaries with the first incursions of the archipelago's conquerors and settlers to the African continent, during the XNUMXth century.

Faced with the lack of other draft animals, the settlers imported these camelids, mainly from the west coast of old Berberia, now Moroccan.

It is said that animals were often towed rather than brought on board. The vessels on which they were supposed to be transported proved to be too unstable to support the weight of dozens of specimens in constant motion.

Had they been camels, dromedaries or both, the live specimens that we sometimes glimpse parked on the left of the road, today perform a new function: carrying visitors to PN Timanfaya on their humps, on a short tour between the mountains and craters of fire that endows more than 50km2 from the southwest of the island.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, Echadero de los Camellos

Dromedaries ready to carry visitors on PN Timanfaya's Echadero de los Camellos.

We touch the echadero de los camelos. Having secured some photos, we chat with Fatah, who is also the conductor of the animals, dromedaries by the way. “Look, I started coming here to work for a while and ended up moving from Morocco instead.

The work here was guaranteed. Later, I was able to bring the family. Now we have a privileged life.” he tells us as he adjusts the drooping currents of a sleepy dromedary.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, Fatah and their dromedaries

Moroccan Fatah, caretaker and driver of the camels that transport visitors to PN Timanfaya.

Towards the Volcanic Core of PN Timanfaya

Then, we resume the route to the entrance of PN Timanfaya. For a few more kilometers, dunes and steep slopes of hills obstruct our view to the left of the road.

On the other side, by contrast, the corrosive immensity of lava made the reddish glow of the first caldera that we could see in that volcanic flood, the Caldera del Coranzoncillo.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, Caldera del Corazoncillo

One of many dozens of craters and caldera dotting southwestern Lanzarote from PN Timanfaya.

We continued until we came face to face with El Diablo, the symbol-statue that César Manrique, the omnipresent artist in Lanzarote, created the park's identity.

On this inaugural trip to Lanzarote, we submitted ourselves to the program followed by the vast majority of visitors to PN Timanfaya.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, El Diablo

The symbol “El Diablo” by PN Timanfaya, created by artist from Lanzarote, César Manrique.

We advance to the Islote de Hilário, previously known as Tinecheide (mountain of Hell), the term used by the natives majes of Lanzarote, the same authors of timanfaya (mountains of fire).

The Refuge and Operational Base of Islote de Hilário

He dictated the location of the Islote de Hilario that would serve as the operational center of the national park, its car park, restaurant, gift shop and starting point for regular bus tours through the so-called mountains of fire.

For, despite being in awe of Timanfaya's geological exuberance, we ended our tour as any photographer would feel: frustrated.

Even if the kindness and understanding of the driver allowed us some extra-program photos, whenever he opened the bus door in special places.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, Vineyards on Lava

Round walls delimit plantation areas now inside PN Timanfaya.

A year and a little later, we returned to Lanzarote and PN Timanfaya. This time, prepared.

We were able to pre-authorize a car route monitored by a park inspector. Eva Acero, a Galician guide based in Lanzarote, takes us.

With Eva at the wheel, we were able to stop the car where we wanted and we photographed with open windows, in an itinerary broader than that of the bus and which included a stop at the Miradouro da Montaña Rajada (350m).

Montaña Rajada and the Extraterrestrial Panorama of the Sea of ​​Lavas.

There, even though alerted by our apparition, two crows refuse to take off from the lava landing from which they are watching us. We arrive at the stone wall that separates the top of the viewpoint from the rocky cliff below and from one of the almost unlikely volcanic extensions of the PN Timanfaya.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, duo of Ravens

Pair of crows dominates the top of Montaña Rajada.

As the crows had become accustomed to contemplating, we unveiled the rugged plain of the Sea of ​​Lavas, gutted by a sinuous furrow opened by the flow of lava in search of the Atlantic.

Aligned with this furrow, the craters of Montaña Encantada, Pedro Perico and Halcones stood out. Further south, we could still see Maria Hernández.

PN Timanfaya, Fire Mountains, Lanzarote, View of the mountain gust, sea of ​​lava

A bed left by the flow of lava furrows the rugged and cratered plain of the Sea of ​​Lavas.

This set of craters collapsed on itself formed a panorama that the ocean floor was blue with drama. In such an extraterrestrial way that it helped us understand why NASA used images of Timanfaya during astronaut training for Apollo 17, the 6th and last manned alumni mission, in December 1972.

We submit to the park authority. We return to the foot of Montaña Rajada and to the stretch of Ruta de Los Volcanes Rural Trail usually traveled by bus.

PN Timanfaya, Fire Mountains, Lanzarote, park road

Meanders of the PN Timanfaya road, between two lava walls.

In Circuit Between the Fire Mountains of Timanfaya

We wind south of the set of Montañas del Fuego, at a certain point overlooking the road that led to the park entrance and the Caldera del Corazoncillo, now with a good half of its interior exposed.

Slowly, slowly, we appreciate the gentle forms and warm tones of the slag and orange marc of El Valle de la Tranquilidad.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, Mar de la Tranquilidad

The geological waves of the Mar de la Tranquilidad, orange with the concentration of bagacina.

detain us hornitos, small ovens from which the Manto black and something ghostly of The Virgin And the mysterious entrances to different lava tunnels, treated in Lanzarote by James.

We also pay attention to another one of the hundreds of plants that found ways to develop in the lava ecosystem, which helped to justify the creation of the park and contribute to Lanzarote's UNESCO status as a Biosphere Reserve.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, bushes

Shrubs grow despite the arid soil of PN Timanfaya.

Finally, long after the scheduled time, around lunchtime, the park inspector arranges for us to return to the logistics base of Islote de Hilário.

The Gastronomic Refuge of the “El Diablo” Restaurant

We were handed over to Eva Acero and the host of the restaurant "The Devil”, the gastronomic heart of PN Timanfaya, also conceived by César Manrique and by his longtime collaborator Jesús Soto.

We noticed several details of the architecture and decoration of the establishment, characteristic of the creativity of Manrique, son of Lanzarote for whom the environmental respect and the unique nature of the island always led his work: the building that integrated the restaurant, which, in the distance, barely it distinguished itself from the rock platform on which it rests.

The frying pan-shaped lamps. The grill is installed over a volcanic chimney that brings to the surface the geothermal heat released by the magma and thus allows you to cook the house specialties.

PN Timanfaya, Fire Mountains, Lanzarote, El Diablo Restaurant Grill

A cook at the El Diablo restaurant grills food over a natural chimney on the Islote el Hilário.

And, of course, the surrounding 360º panoramic window that allowed us and the other guests to devour the scenery while savoring the meal.

We ate Canary specialties. Followed by desserts faithful to the volcanic thread that guided us, one of them a “volcano” chocolate with a Peta Zetas filling that explodes in your mouth.

The Geothermal Heat Just Below the Islote del Hilário

Back abroad, a year or so later, we went back to watching the mini-show there, repeated to exhaustion by park employees.

A geyser caused after pouring water through an opening right in front of the restaurant window. And the combustion of a bush placed in a walled hole, a few meters from the “geyser”.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, provoked geyser

PN Timanfaya worker pours a bucket of water into a tube that connects to the basement and immediately generates a geyser.

The almost instantaneous fire only scares spectators until they are informed of temperatures recorded a little below, 610ºC at a mere 13 meters deep.

In another measurement, the incredible temperature of 277°C just 10cm below ground.

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote, combustion on the Islote del Hilário

Shrub combusts in a few seconds, due to the high temperature below ground in the Islote de Hilario.

This underground furnace is impressive, not least because it survives in periods of volcanic inactivity. But compared to the long hell in the genesis of PN Timanfaya's scenarios, it is nothing but thermal.

1730 – 36 and the Volcanic Cataclysm that Generated the Extraterrestrial Domain of PN Timanfaya

Let's go back to September 1730. Lanzarote had three centuries of European colonization and a population spread over several villages.

At that time, the resistance of the indigenous majes it had long been repressed and the autonomous life of the natives nearly eradicated. The main concern of the colonists remained the attacks of the Berber pirates and privateers in the service of the British crown, in the case of Sir Walter Raleigh.

So it was until, as Father Lorenzo Curbelo recounted, “on September 1, 1730, between nine and ten at night, the land opened up at Timanfaya, two leagues from Yaiza…and a huge mountain rose from the bosom of the earth.”

PN Timanfaya, Mountains of Fire, Lanzarote

Craters collapsed from the Sea of ​​Lavas.

Thereafter and for six years, the eruptions followed one another in different craters in the southwest of the island, which confirmed a unique volcanic cataclysm.

It is estimated that about two billion cubic meters of lava and ash were dumped on what were once arable land and settlements, part of torrents that entered the Atlantic and caused Lanzarote to spread to the south and southwest.

There were no human victims but a good part of the cattle perished as a victim of toxic gases. In time, nearly half of the island's inhabitants were forced to leave. Lanzarote has become more inhospitable than it already was.

The island has recovered. No longer are the villages buried, at least the number of inhabitants in recent decades, thanks to the intensification of tourism due to its newly formed volcanic and humanized landscape.

PN Timanfaya, Fire Mountains, Lanzarote, Lava Encordoada, road between Yaiza and the entrance to the Park

A long straight straight across the lava base connects the houses of Yaiza and Uga to the entrance to PN Timanfaya.

At the end of the day, leaving the park, returning to the lodge on the east coast, we passed some of the newest residents.

After the entrance to Yaiza, before reaching the roundabout de los Camellos,

Fatah led a long caravan of his dromedaries on their way to the farm where they spent their nights blackened by the lava soil of Lanzarote.

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