Timanfaya National Park is undoubtedly Lanazarote’s jewel in the crown. Six years of non-stop volcanic eruptions in the 18th century transformed the island forever, creating a vast lunar landscape with 500 hectares of spectacular volcanic lava flows, petrified molten rock, craters, volcanic tubes and ash-covered slopes. It’s so out of this world it feels like stepping foot on the moon or even Mars. If it weren’t for the occasional cloud, sea view or being able to breathe the air, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to the surface of the red planet. In fact, geology-speaking, it’s so similar to Mars that the Park is used by the European Space Agency to carry out research and test scientific equipment.
The sheer scale of the volcanoes’ wrath created a new terrain with a rugged, Dante-esque beauty. Despite causing fear and ruin at the time, three hundred years later, it inspires awe as a one-of-a-kind natural park unique for its size, number of craters, diverse volcanic landscape and geological and biological features. It is the second most visited national park in Spain, only after Mount Teide in Tenerife. It is also located in a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, a status awarded to Lanzarote on 7th October 1993.
Conservation requirements mean that some restrictions are in place when visiting the Park so that delicate areas remain protected, such as Montaña Rasgada and the relatively new volcano, El Fuego (El Chinero), the only one that dates back to the last eruption on Lanzarote in 1824. The rest can be seen in all their glory on a guided bus tour included in the entrance fee.
Also included in the entrance fee are geothermal demonstrations that show, with spectacular effect, the residual heat just a few centimetres beneath your feet. You can feel it for yourself when given a handful of lapilli that is too hot to handle. You’ll see it as the dry gorse goes up in flames as soon as it’s put into a hole in the ground, and you’ll be amazed at the speed with which water turns into a powerful geyser in just a few seconds. The Montañas del Fuego Art, Culture and Tourism Centre also has a restaurant with food cooked over a volcanic barbecue and a gift and souvenir shop.
To round off your visit to the Park, just a few minutes’ drive from the entrance to Timanfaya you can find the ‘camel station’ where you can take a camel ride up a volcano and really experience the terrain in a unique and special way, all the while in the safe hands of the expert camel drivers from Yaiza.