Timanfaya National Park

Going south from the airport, take the LZ2 motorway towards Tias, from where a straight stretch continues to Yaiza (about 18km/11 miles).  Just before Yaiza lies the little village of Uga, looking like a Moorish settlement, with flat-roofed white houses surrounded by palms.   About 3km (2 miles) further on a bypass encircles Yaiza. From a roundabout as you approach is a narrow road leading to the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya (open daily 9am — 5.45 pm, last tour 5pm; charge).

On the way up you pass the Echadero de Camellos (Camel Station) where visitors are taken for rides around the outer volcanic slopes on dromedaries.  There’s also a small museum of volcanic rocks here.  The national park is one place that all visitors to Lanzarote include on their itineraries, and it’s a place that few will ever forget. It is an experience that makes one aware of the awesome power of nature.

At the entrance to the park, where Manrique’s famous ‘fire devil’ sign stands, is a barrier where you pay an entrance fee.  You will probably have to join a queue while you wait for a space to become available in the car park from where buses take visitors on a 40-minute tour of the Ruta de los Volcanes (included in the entrance price).   At busy times — late morning seems to be prime time —the wait may be as long as an hour but this is unusual.

Once inside the Park there are bus tours around the Montañas del Fuego (Mountains of Fire) start from outside El Diablo restaurant and run throughout the day.  There is a good recorded commentary in Spanish, English and German, giving background information about the park and about the volcanic eruptions that caused this once fertile area to be turned into a sea of lava. There are frequent photo stops at particularly dramatic points, but you are not allowed to get off the bus.  The bus tour is included free in the price of your park entry ticket.

Once the tour is over, most visitors stop for a while to watch park attendants throwing dried brush into a hole in the ground, whereupon flames roar upwards; or pouring buckets of water into a small crater, causing a cascade of boiling water to shoot into the air.

In the glass-sided restaurant, designed, of course, by César Manrique, you can have a drink or snack, or eat meat that has been grilled over the natural heat emanating from just below the surface (you can watch chefs officiating over the barbecue at the back of the restaurant, so you know that they are not cheating!!).

You are not allowed to walk, or drive, through the centre of the park, but you can drive around the periphery, and drop in at the Interpretation and Visitors’ Centre at the Tinajo end.

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