Tag Archives: Timanfaya

Entrance Tickets – Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Entrance Ticket - Timanfaya Lanzarote

“The camel and his driver — each has his own plan.” – African Proverb

“On the first day of September, 1730, the earth suddenly opened near Timanfaya.  An enormous mountain emerged from the ground with flames coming from its summit. It continued burning for 19 days. Some days later, a new abyss developed and an avalanche of lava rushed down …”  –  Father Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo from Yaiza – an eyewitness.

In the early eighteenth century more than thirty volcanoes exploded on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, spilling fire, smoke and huge deposits of magma onto the surrounding landscape, engulfing entire villages and destroying once fertile agricultural land.  Today this is Timanfaya National Park, a desolate and lifeless place of barren landscape and arid volcanic rock.

Vesuvius Postcard

The eruptions transformed as much as a quarter of the island into a sea of solidified lava, multicoloured volcanic rocks, copper coloured sand and a thick layer of course grey ash and nearly three hundred years later there is still hardly any vegetation in this place.  Black lava ribs of the mountain spill from the top and in the occasional sunshine the colours  were ever changing, the rocks were black, brown, purple and umber with a sulphurous yellow crust like fine filigree lace and all over there was vivid green copper oxide and some hardy mosses ferociously clinging on to life in a highly improbable location.

Lanzarote Timanfaya National Park

Together with a group of friends I was staying near the coast where the December temperature was comfortable but it soon began to plummet as we drove into the interior of the island and started to climb and we weren’t prepared for that and it wasn’t long before we began to regret not bringing more clothes along because it was soon very, very cold indeed with frequent rain squalls and a stinging wind that lashed our legs and faces.

As we had a four wheel drive we thought we might test its capabilities to the full so rather than sensibly follow the tarmac highway we went off road and tried to plot our own course.  We got hopelessly lost of course and at one point came across a surprised islander, a whiskered, toothless old lady in rusty black clothes and with a lined face that could easily be mistaken for a road map so we stopped and asked for directions to the park.

I can’t be absolutely certain but I think she said that the really sensible thing to do was to go back to the main road because this was safer and even though she was quite insistent about this we ignored her advice and carried on along a boulder strewn track that tipped and lurched the vehicle for the next few kilometres until eventually we came to the boundary to the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya marked by a sign carrying the mischievous El Diablo (The Devil) logo.

Timanfaya Lanzrote Fire Mountain Canary Islands

The significance of the demon emblem of Lanzarote is that the early settlers interpreted their first experience of a volcanic eruption as the work of Satan himself.

It was so cold today that we would have welcomed some sort of volcanic activity I can tell you!

We arrived at the visitor’s car park and that was as far as we could drive into the park and there we tagged on to some coach party trips and watched several demonstrations by a sun gnarled old man with a face of leather and twisted knotted hands of ‘how hot‘ the area is because temperatures just a few metres below the surface here reach between up to 600° centigrade!

Fire Mountain Lanzarote SpainLanzarote Steam Geyser Timanfaya National Park

Happily the volcanic craters are dormant now but vents by the vantage point at the Islote de Hilario give out super-heated air at 400° centigrade which comes from a boiling chamber of magma – estimated to be safely four kilometres beneath the surface at this point.

First of all he threw dry brush into a harmless looking hole in the ground and it immediately burst into flames and then he demonstrated the geyser which he made perform by pouring cold water into a bore hole and then retreating swiftly as it erupted seconds later in the form of steam and a brief but satisfying ‘whoosh’ and he finished this incendiary display by demonstrating a natural gas vent that doubled as a natural BBQ for the nearby restaurant.

Lanzarote Fire Mountain

Due to the fragility of the rocks and the possible danger of collapsing lava tubes and gullies it isn’t especially advisable to go wandering about by yourself or poking the surface with a sharp stick and quite sensibly unescorted walking is not permitted.

“I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink” – American comedian, Joe E. Lewis

The really prudent way to proceed further was to use a coach tour into the National Park and around the volcanic craters but instead of the restful seat option in a heated bus we choose an alternative camel ride which involved a twenty-minute circuit of the craters on a form of transport that even made the Jeep seem comfortable and we were jolly grateful when it was all over and we could make our way back to Puerto del Carmen in the beat up old hire car.

Have you ever taken a camel ride?  Did you enjoy it?

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya

Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Iceland Hot Geysir

There were about thirty other mud pots and water pools and it was a good job that we had the benefit of the tour guide because he was giving sound advice on temperatures and what you could comfortably touch and what you couldn’t because some of the pools contained boiling water that would strip flesh from fingers and would have involved an unplanned  trip to the infirmary.

Read the full story…

Car Hire Misadventures – Lanzarote, 1983

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya

As we had a four wheel drive we thought we might test its capabilities to the full so rather than follow the tarmac highway we went off road and tried to plot our own course.

We got hopelessly lost of course and at one point came across a surprised islander, a whiskered, toothless old lady in rusty black clothes and with a wrinkled face that could easily be mistaken for a road map so we stopped and asked for directions to the park.

I can’t be sure but, even though she had probably never ever driven a vehicle in her life, she displayed great wisdom and  I think she said that the really sensible thing was to go back to the main road because this was safer and even though she was quite insistent about this we ignored her advice and carried on along a boulder strewn track that tipped and lurched the vehicle for the next few kilometres until eventually we came to the boundary to the National Park marked by a sign carrying the mischievous El Diablo (The Devil) logo.

Read the full story…

Lanzarote Car Hire

Spanish Islands, Postcards from Lanzarote

Lanzarote Postcard 1

Lanzarote Postcard 2

Lanzarote postcard 1983

Spanish Islands, Lanzarote – Fire Mountain and a Modernised Castle

Lanzarote Fire Mountain

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

After a couple of fine sunny days the weather had turned rather sour and unwelcome thick clouds kept racing in from the Atlantic Ocean, mostly steely grey but sometimes black and ominous and overloaded with moisture which promptly fell as heavy rain as soon as they crossed the coast and raced inland.

After breakfast we pulled on what we thought might be suitably warm clothing and headed off in a northerly direction to the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya.

Timanfaya National Park has the popular tag of Fire Mountain and is a lonely, desolate and lifeless place of barren landscape and volcanic rock laid down in the early eighteenth century when more than thirty volcanoes exploded more or less at the same time, spilling fire, smoke and huge deposits of magma onto the surrounding landscape, engulfing entire villages and destroying once fertile agricultural land.  The eruptions transformed almost a quarter of the island into a sea of solidified lava, multicoloured volcanic rocks, copper coloured sand and a thick layer of course grey ash and nearly three hundred years later little has changed and there is still hardly any vegetation there.

As we had a four wheel drive we thought we might test its capabilities to the full so rather than follow the tarmac highway we went off road and tried to plot our own course.

Lost on Fire Mountain, Lanzarote

We got hopelessly lost of course and at one point came across a surprised islander, a whiskered, toothless old lady in rusty black clothes and with a wrinkled face that could easily be mistaken for a road map so we stopped and asked for directions to the park.

I can’t be sure but I think she said that the really sensible thing was to go back to the main road because this was safer and even though she was quite insistent about this we ignored her advice and carried on along a boulder strewn track that tipped and lurched the vehicle for the next few kilometres until eventually we came to the boundary to the National Park marked by a sign carrying the mischievous El Diablo (The Devil) logo.

The significance of the demon emblem of Lanzarote is that the early settlers interpreted their first experience of a volcanic eruption as the work of Satan himself.  It was so cold today that we would have welcomed some sort of volcanic activity I can tell you!

Volcano Tours at Fire Mountain, Lanzarote

We arrived at the visitor car park and that was as far as we could drive into the park and there we tagged on to some coach party trips and watched several demonstrations by a sun gnarled old man with a face of leather and knotted hands of ‘how hot‘ the area is because temperatures just a few metres below the surface here reach between up to 600° centigrade!

First of all he threw dry brush into a harmless looking hole in the ground and it immediately burst into flames and then he demonstrated the geyser which he made perform by pouring cold water into a bore hole and then retreating swiftly as it erupted seconds later in the form of steam and a brief but satisfying ‘whoosh’.

They probably need to be cautious about this approach because forcing a natural event can sometimes only yield temporary results.  In Iceland for example there is an original Great Geyser that used to be frustratingly irregular so apparently people used to encourage it to blow by pouring soap powder into the borehole as this seemed to be a generally reliable way of encouraging it to perform.  Eventually this stopped working however because the residue of the soap clogged up the underground vents rather like an automatic washing machine that hasn’t been rinsed through.

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya

Due to the fragility of the rocks and the possible danger of collapsing lava tubes and gullies it isn’t advisable to go wandering about by yourself and quite sensibly unescorted walking is not permitted. The really prudent way to proceed further was to use a coach tour into the National Park and around the volcanic craters but instead of the restful seat option in a heated bus we choose an alternative camel ride which involved a twenty minute circuit of the craters on a form of transport that even made the Jeep seem comfortable.

To be honest we were glad when the camel excursion was over, it might have been the preferred transport option of Lawrence of Arabia but we were just pleased to get back to the Daihatsu and drive away in a westerly direction.  We were making our way now towards the old capital of the island called Teguise where islanders used to take refuge from the coastal storms and from pirate raids and had built themselves an impressive fortress at the highest point with commanding views over most of the island.

Santa Bárbara castle on Lanzarote

This was the Santa Bárbara castle and it turned out that only that year there had been a complete restoration by the Fine Arts Association and on account of being some of the first visitors to the restored attraction it had a most non–medieval feel about it but having paid the entrance fee we visited the museum and wandered around the castle walls until we collectively agreed that it was time to leave and make our way back through the island capital, Arrecife and back to the relative warmth of the coastal strip.

Arrecife doesn’t tend to feature very prominently in any of the island guide books and even without stopping the jeep we could well understand why.  It might be different now of course but in 1983 it was an unattractive and workmanlike place with a working harbour and a street of rather unattractive buildings so finding no good reason to stop the car we rather rudely drove straight through.

It was still quite early and I innocently asked what we were going to do for the rest of the day?  Richard gave me a withering look, rolled his eyes skywards and said ‘have you got no imagination?’ and we spent the remainder of the day in the comfort of the bars of Puerto del Carmen.

Lanzarote Teguise Castle

More About Geysers – Timanfaya, Lanzarote

Timanfaya Lanzrote Fire Mountain Canary Islands

“On the first day of September, 1730, the earth suddenly opened near Timanfaya. An enormous mountain emerged from the ground with flames coming from its summit. It continued burning for 19 days. Some days later, a new abyss developed and an avalanche of lava rushed down over Timanfaya, Rodeo and part of Mancha Blanca.” –  Father Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo from Yaiza – eyewitness.

There are over one thousand known geysers in the World and as well as in Iceland the most famous are in Yellowstone Park in the U.S.A, the Taupau Volcanic Zone in New Zealand, El Tatio in Chile and the Valley of the Geysers in Russia.  I have been to Yellowstone but not to the others but I have been to Fire Mountain on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands where there is a sort of artificial or false geyser to amuse the tourists.

Fire Mountain is actually Timanfaya National Park, a desolate and lifeless place of barren landscape and volcanic rock laid down in the early eighteenth century when more than thirty volcanoes exploded, spilling fire, smoke and huge deposits of magma onto the surrounding landscape, engulfing entire villages and destroying once fertile agricultural land.  The eruptions transformed almost a quarter of the island into a sea of solidified lava, multicoloured volcanic rocks, copper coloured sand and a thick layer of course grey ash and nearly three hundred years later there is still hardly any vegetation there.

Lanzarote Timanfaya National Park

Together with a group of friends we were staying near the coast where the December temperature was comfortable but it soon began to plummet as we drove into the interior of the island and started to climb and we weren’t prepared for that and it wasn’t long before we began to regret not bringing more clothes along because it was soon very, very cold indeed with frequent rain squalls and a stinging wind that lashed our legs and faces.

As we had a four wheel drive we thought we might test its capabilities so rather than follow the tarmac highway we went off road and tried to plot our own course.  We got hopelessly lost of course and at one point came across a surprised islander, a whiskered, toothless old lady in rusty black clothes and with a lined face that could be mistaken for a road map so we stopped and asked for directions to the park.  I can’t be sure but I think she said that the sensible thing was to go back to the main road because this was safer and even though she was quite insistent about this we ignored her advice and carried on along a boulder strewn track that tipped and lurched the vehicle for the next few kilometres until eventually we came to the boundary to the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya marked by a sign carrying the mischievous El Diablo (The Devil) logo.

The significance of the demon emblem of Lanzarote is because the early settlers interpreted their first experience of a volcanic eruption as the work of Satan himself.  It was so cold today that we would have welcomed some sort of volcanic activity I can tell you!

We arrived at the visitor’s car park and that was as far as we could drive into the park and there we tagged on to some coach party trips and watched several demonstrations by a sun gnarled old man with a face of leather and knotted hands of ‘how hot‘ the area is because temperatures just a few metres below the surface here reach between up to 600° centigrade!

 

Lanzarote Steam Geyser Timanfaya National Park

Happily the volcanic craters are dormant now but vents by the vantage point at the Islote de Hilario give out superheated air at 400 degrees centigrade which comes from a broiling chamber of magma – estimated to be safely four kilometres beneath the surface at this point. First of all he threw dry brush into a harmless looking hole in the ground and it immediately burst into flames and then he demonstrated the geyser which he made perform by pouring cold water into a bore hole and then retreating swiftly as it erupted seconds later in the form of steam and a brief but satisfying ‘whoosh’ and he finished this incendiary display by demonstrating a natural gas vent that doubled as a natural BBQ for the nearby restaurant.

Due to the fragility of the rocks and the possible danger of collapsing lava tubes and gullies it isn’t especially advisable to go wandering about by yourself or poking the surface with a sharp stick and quite sensibly unescorted walking is not permitted. The really prudent way to proceed further was to use a coach tour into the National Park and around the volcanic craters but instead of the restful seat option in a heated bus we choose an alternative camel ride which involved a twenty minute circuit of the craters on a form of transport that even made the Jeep seem comfortable and we were jolly grateful when it was all over and we could make our way back to Puerto del Carmen in the beat up old hire car.

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya

Iceland, Car Hire and Volcano Damage

Iceland Volcano

As a sort of postscript to my previous post I started to think about other dangerous volcano areas that I have visited and where it may not be a good idea to take a hire car if there is a genuine threat of paint stripping damage.

Firstly Mount Vesuvius near Naples in Italy:

Vesuvius the crater

Mind you, you would probably consider yourself spectacularly unlucky if the thing went off while you were on a tourist visit to the top of the crater.  But then don’t forget that it is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years and that was in 1944 when it destroyed a handful of communities and an entire United States bomber squadron, which makes you wonder why they didn’t just take off and go somewhere else!

Second, Timanfaya or Fire Mountain on the Spanish Island of Lanzarote:

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya Lanzarote

When I visited this volcanic site we arrived at the visitor’s car park and that was as far as you could drive into the park and there I tagged on to some coach party trips and watched several demonstrations by a sun gnarled old man with a face of weathered leather and  hands with knotted knuckles of ‘how hot‘ the area is because temperatures just a few metres below the surface here reach between 400°C and 600°C!   First of all he threw dry brush into a harmless looking hole in the ground and it immediately caught fire, while water poured into a bore hole erupted seconds later in the form of steam – like a mini-geyser and he finished this off by demonstrating a natural gas vent that doubled as a BBQ!

Also in the Spanish Canary Islands on nearby Tenerife there is the still active volcano Mount Teide  which I visited in 1989:

Mount Teide Tenerife

The summit of Mount Teide at just over three thousand, seven hundred metres is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic.  At 7,500 m from its base on the ocean floor, it is the third highest volcano in the world and its altitude makes Tenerife the tenth highest island in the world (although to be fair this is another of those biggest, largest, highest statistics to be wary of). It remains active: its most recent eruption occurred in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent on the north-western Santiago rift. The United Nations Committee for Disaster Mitigation designated Teide what they call a Decade Volcano because of its history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to several large towns.

Finally and probably the most dangerous of all, Yellowstone National Park in the USA:

Yellowstone is a super volcano called a caldera (which is Latin for cauldron) that are so explosive that they just burst open and blow everything away in one almighty blast of truly biblical proportions.  And this event would be so huge that it is the reason why previous eruptions have not left behind a classic volcanic mountain, like say Vesuvius or Mount Etna.

The Yellowstone caldera measures nine thousand square kilometers and the crater is almost sixty-five kilometers across, so as you can probably imagine that would have been one almighty explosion!  Luckily these super volcanoes don’t go off very often, the last time was six hundred and thirty thousand years ago, but if it did explode you would definitely want to stand well back because one thing to be sure is that nothing for thousands of miles around would survive and the paint stripping insurance for the hire car would be completely irrelevant and a total waste of money.