Touring Fire Mountain: Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Once it was a prime target of Pirates, the seaport city of Accerife in the Canary Islands, is now a major port that serves the other islands and mainland Africa. Tourist can enjoy the cosmopolitan city, museums, 5-star resorts and tasty cuisine. There are two impressive historic castles built for protection from the early pirates. Castillo San Jose was also known as "Fortress of Hunger," when used to shelter people in the aftermath of the 1730s volcanic eruptions. Castillo San Gabriel built in 1590, present day used as the Accerife History Museum. We chose to leave the city and visit the Fire Mountains.


Visiting Timanfaya National Park and the Fire Mountains

We visited Timanfaya National Park, a most unusual place. The "Martian" landscape was created in 1730s when more than 100 volcanoes, covering more than 50km erupted. The area remains the same today as after the eruptions with the exception of some rare plants now growing there.

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A tour of the vast volcanic wasteland is given in a motor coach, private cars are not allowed. It is an eerie feeling, when seeing so much volcanic wilderness with its many distinctive landscape shapes. On the bus, a recording is played that is taken from a written first-hand account of the eruptions--quite a solemn moment.

At the visitors center we learned the name Fire Mountain is used because the temperatures just a few feet below the surface reach between 400 and 600 degrees. The staff gives us demonstrations of the heat. Water poured into a borehole erupts seconds later in the form of steam-like a mini geyser. Dry brush, thrown into a hole-in-the-ground, catches fire immediately. We all stood in awe of these extraordinary actions. The staff repeated them many times.

Canarian food is served in the El Diablo restaurant in the visitors center. The food is cooked using the natural geothermal heat -- a cast-iron grill is placed over a large hole in the ground. We were allowed to walk around the grill and see the food cooking.

The Best Part of a Great Tour: Camel ride

As interesting as the demonstrations were, the next part of the tour is absolutely the best. We took a 30-minute camel ride up the South side of Volcan` de Timanfara. The camels are ready, they are kneeling down resting and waiting for us to climb aboard. Two people ride simultaneously, on seats straddling each side of the camel. Sand bags are used to even out the weight if needed. Now we are sitting in our seats anticipating the rise of the camel.

Even though we are strapped in, we are nervous -- after all, they are a large awkward animal. Our camel guide looks at us and says OMG laughing. Now we are more nervous. Up we go laughing all the way, along with the others riding in the caravan with us. I turn around thinking the camel behind is trying to bite me, again our guide is smiling and laughing as it was he nudging me. The slow uneven gait of the camel is fun, we are still in the volcanic park and the wasteland looks like the Sahara desert. Fun as it was the 30 minutes was long enough. I did not see anything but happy smiling faces getting off their camels. This camel ride is a true tourist experience everyone young and old can enjoy.

La Genia Winery

On our return, we stopped at La Genia winery for a tasting. The North wind is quite strong in this area and I found the clever way they protected the young plantings with rocks quite handsome. This land borders on the Volcanic Park and by digging a small hole through the ash and planning the vines this land has produced some of the best of Malvasia Wines.

If you are planning a visit to Accerife, there is an impressive festival held mid to late July -- Nuestra Senora del Carmen -- "Our Lady of the Sea" Patron saint of the fishermen. The local fishing boats are decorated with flowers for the procession and prayers and blessings are offered for the catch.

If You Go

Tours are Offered From Cruise Lines or Do It Yourself

We took our tour from HAL (Holland America Line) cruise line, but all of the many cruise lines that port in Arrecife have similar tours. Alternatively, you may book your own on land or you may rent a car and drive out yourself. There is a fee for the National Park and a fee for the camel ride. I recommend taking a tour, you will see and learn more.

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Bobbie Green grew up in southern California. She is a member of the North American Travel Journalist Association. She is a freelance writer and has been published in various Senior Wire Publications, The Desert Valley Times, Nevada Magazine, Mesquite, Travel World International, and Besides enjoying her love of travel by doing it as often as she can, she enjoys photography and attends numerous travel trade functions. Presently she is enjoying desert living in Mesquite Nevada.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Published: August 14th, 2014

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