Today we continue our Lanzarote adventures! As mentioned in the previous post, from the magnitude of grand tour adventures and stunning places, I needed to split it into several parts. Next post will be last Lanzarote instalment, so be prepared for information, adventure and beauty overload!
So, today we are starting off at the Timanfaya National Park, the land of fire, where we left off in the last post. After the swirls and turns of narrow national park roads with volcanoes scattered on each side, we headed to our next destination Islote de Hilario. We drove close to the peak of volcano, parked up and walked a few steps to get to the top. One of the main reasons for this trip, was to realise my bucket-list dream to climb an active volcano. A few months after the knee surgery, it didn’t look like I would be capable of realising this goal at all, but I remained hopeful and finding out about Lanzarote and how volcanoes there are so easily accessible, I had to book this trip, to cross that goal off my list. And that I did. Maybe the climb was not as spectacular as imagined, I thought I’d be hiking for hours, with stunning views, all sweaty and tired – reaching the peak with a sense of accomplishment and excitement from the climb, the views and the thrill of being on top of something which might literally explode any minute. This…. was a very toned and easy version of that. First off, the volcano is dormant not active, but that doesn’t mean it’s less dangerous- it merely means that it’s asleep and capable to become active at any moment and erupt. The second is that it took a few easy steps to get me on top of the volcano, fairly easy even for people with mobility issues.
Views from the top were beautiful though, the shades of bright red and moss green and more volcano mountains in the distance- a peculiar scenery that once again resembled something out of another planet, another world. I sat on the edge and just overflowed with happiness and sense of achievement. It wasn’t an achievement from a hike but completing my bucket list dream when a few months prior I was basically told I won’t be able to continue my life the way it was, that I’ll have to stop all I love doing and have a possible future in a wheelchair. At 18 this scared the crap out of me. Time has passed since then and I learned a lot more than I knew then, including the fact that doctors are sometimes full of shit. So many lessons learned but looking back on this moment, I just get that sweet feeling, the feeling of self- discovery, the feeling of empowerment and feeling like I can achieve anything as long as I work hard for it and adjust accordingly.
I sat for a moment, on the volcano rocks, keeping my butt warm- until exciting geothermal demonstrations began. The people gathered to watch a man take some tiny red volcanic rocks on his shovel, for which he then passed it over to every single one of us. Women let out amused screams while throwing rocks from one hand to another, men giggled doing the same and when it came to me, I just threw it back on the ground… because they were indeed, very hot.
Next was another demonstration where the man placed a dry bush to the edge of chamber of magma which instantly turned into flames. The flames rose with force, and to awe of the watchers who took a small step back as it happened, the big fire continued burning until there was nothing left. The brute force of heat coming from that chamber was exhilarating, it really deepened the atmosphere of being on top of a volcano, that puts you a little on edge. I mean, this space is a continuously tested environment and I’m sure scientist would be able to pick up on any warning signs if the volcano was to become active and erupt again, but still – it makes you think. I’ve read somewhere that dormant volcanoes can take as fast as 20-80 days to become active again.
Next we surrounded little shafts in the ground to which a bucket of water was poured, the geysers erupted, sprouting water and steam that was a few meters tall. Once again, I was mesmerised by the sheer force portrayed in this demonstration. A proof that though the volcano is sleeping, it’s still full of life. Next we moved on to another highlight of this location which was the restaurant el Diablo. Designed by renowned Lanzarote artist César Manrique who was responsible for creating a variety of tourist hotspots, enhancing the beauty of Lanzarote. It was him that designed this restaurant situated on top of volcano, in oval shape and dark volcanic colours as to blend into the volcanic scenery. We followed onto the volcano- grill, which basically was exactly that. The deep hole in the volcano, with a grill placed over it. The restaurant uses volcano heat to cook chicken, fish and other dishes. I have to say the idea of eating anything cooked by volcano heat sounds amazing to me, suddenly I wish I brought some marshmallows…
I didn’t have time to enjoy anything at a restaurant, but I did enjoy some of the surrounding views before we had to leave this wonderful place and move on to another location. We left the national park, leaving swirly, volcanic roads behind, I felt a sense of sadness, as I truly wished I could spend more time in this place. Even a full day wouldn’t be enough, I wanted to see every crevasse, admire volcanoes from every angle… as insightful as this tour was, I am certain we barely scratched the surface of this place.
Moving on to the new location La Geria renowned for the land dedicated to wine. After the eruptions in Timanfaya (full story mentioned in the previous blog post), the land was covered in magma, hardened basalt and volcanic ash. For a long time, farmers struggled as these continuous eruptions ruined the agriculture of the island. Later however, they discovered a new way of agriculture by digging pits in volcanic ash to reach a fertile soil underneath, the pits are used for growths of vines to produce wine until this day. La Geria means shallow and is named after the pits which are fairly shallow in depth, where a single vine grows, while the pit walls protect it from winds, trapping water that so easily evaporates in the dry climate and is essential to plant growth.
Driving through some of Lanzarote in the previous days, I saw the lands covered in those pits but had no clue what they were for. The sight of them is unusual and captivating, though I have to be honest, beware those with tropophobia, might get triggered by the continuous oval shapes in the ground! I looked at the various sized pits stretching before me, thinking about the resilience in the locals who after so many years of utter destruction, managed to find new ways to sustain the agriculture of the island. Standing there I admired la geria landscapes, the dark volcanic slag and even the interesting plants that look like they’re about to eat you alive.
We moved to La geria winery which was founded in 19th century, it’s the first that sold wine to island’s visitors. We followed inside, to where we got a taste of the infamous wine. I’m not a big wine drinker, so I didn’t get tempted by the bottles displayed for sale. I looked around and admired the wooden accents of the building as well as barrels neatly stacked up everywhere. Then I was approached by an elderly lady who was shouting at me in another language (French I think). I tried to tell her I don’t understand, but soon she whipped out a camera and I gathered she wanted me to take a photo of her and her husband against the barrels. She kept talking to me in her own language despite me not understanding a word she said…. And she ended up giving me a sweet fudge.
Next location was somewhere in mancha blanca. We stopped off by tiny restaurant where our guide made a joke about ‘hoping we like camel meat’. The space was a bit run down and filled with middle aged men who gave me funky looks. But as soon as we moved to the dining room, nothing else mattered. I dug into fish fillet with potatoes not knowing how hungry I was until I took a first bite. We were also given wine, to which many tour guests were delighted. I chatted with fellow tourists, and then even had the re-encounter with the same elderly lady when I went to the bathroom, to which she peed with doors open, and then went over to the sink, where she took her dentures out and started brushing them with a toothbrush. A woman who truly does not give a damn, I applaud. Hehe
After dinner we continued our journey to Haria, but before we reached that destination, we stopped off by a wonderful viewpoint at Mirador de Guinate. We arrived at this stunning location, where we got to experience strong wind and clouds that seemed to hang just above our heads. I was mesmerised by the mix of clouds, hazy views and then sun peaking through to illuminate Chinijo Archipelago which is a cluster of small islets of Montaña Clara, Alegranza, La Graciosa, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste. The combination of fresh air and this wonderful view has awakened me from the food coma. I stood there trying to take in as much as I could before we had to move to the next location.