Hello once again -and welcome to the clearbluetenerife blog, where we are currently looking at the other ‘6’ major islands which surround our beloved island of Tenerife. ‘La Gomera’ was the first on the list, as it is the closest island to Tenerife, followed by the island of La Palma, which is only a few hour’s ferry ride from Tenerife’s southern coast. Today we will be broadening our horizons, as we travel in a north-easterly direction to the island of Lanzarote, where I will give you a brief insight into one of the most popular islands in the Canaries, along with a short excerpt from my personal travel-journal which I wrote during my circumnavigation of the islands a few years ago.
Tomorrow I will be publishing a write-up on the island of Fuerteventura, its northern coast being but a stones-throw away from Lanzarote’s southern tip, but for today let us concentrate on the island of Lanzarote. Lanzarote is the easternmost island of the autonomous Canary Islands, and it is situated less than 80 miles off the Moroccan coast of Africa. The island emerged after the break-up of the American and African continental plates, and its total landmass covers an area of 327 square miles (approximately 846 sq. Km), making it the fourth largest island in the archipelago, which consists of 7 major islands and 6 smaller islands and islets.
The ‘Famara Mountain Ranges’ dominate the north of the island, and due south of the Famara Massif is the ‘El Jable Desert’, which separates Famara and ‘Montanas del Fuego’. ‘Penas del Chache’, which rises to almost 2,200 feet (approximately 670 metres) above sea-level, is the highest peak on the island. In the south of the island there is the ‘Ajaches Mountain Range’, where the highest peak here rises to 608 m. Between 1730 and 1736 the island was hit by a series of volcanic eruptions, subsequently creating a total of ’32’ new volcanoes over an 11-mile (18km) stretch, and covering over 25% of the island -including ’11’ villages, in a blanket of lava. This area is now known as the ‘Timanfaya National Park, and it is by far Lanzarote’s biggest tourist attraction.
Watching brushwood bursting into flames as soon as it is fed into one hole -and seeing water condense into an explosion of steam within seconds of it being poured into another, is truly an amazing spectacle, and the majority of tourists who visit Timanfaya look on in sheer disbelief at the ferocity of good-old mother nature. Camel tours are available of this spectacular park, which takes three hours to complete, and normally include a visit to the picturesque village of Yaiza and the Montanas del Fuego (‘Mountains of Fire’) which consists of around ‘100’ smaller volcanoes. Almost a century after the great eruptions of 1730-36, (in 1824, to be precise) another volcanic eruption occurred within the range of Tiagua, but thankfully it was nowhere-near as powerful as its predecessors.
Apart from Timanfaya, Lanzarote also has a selection of very popular tourist attractions, including the ‘Tunnel of Atlantis’ -the largest underwater volcanic tunnel on the planet, which is part of the ‘Cueva de los Verdes lava tube’. Another one of Lanzarote’s trade marks is the ‘Salinas De Janubio’ desalination plant which extracts around 10,000 tons of salt from the sea-water every year, which is then used primarily for preserving fish. The evaporation process takes four weeks, and vast checkerboard patters of the flat salt pans are continually dotted with little pyramids of sea-salt. Salt became a major industry for the island when the economy dwindled during the middle of the 19th century -and as far as I know Lanzarote is the only Canary Island which still produces it.
Apart from an array of tourist attractions, Lanzarote also boasts a selection of protected areas, such as the ‘Vineyards of La Geria’. where vines are planted in 4-5 metre wide pits, 2-3 metres deep, with small stone walls surrounding each pit, in order to harvest the rainfall and overnight dew -and also to protect the plants from the prevailing winds. The valley of La Geria has been declared a ‘Protected Area’, and it is Lanzarote’s main wine-growing region, occupying an area of around 52 Sq. Km. (20 Square miles). The area produces the majority of Lanzarote’s fine wines, three-quarters of which are made from the Malvasia grape, which is one of the oldest grape varieties around. This honey-coloured wine was highly-praised by none-other than William Shakespeare, himself -hundreds of years ago, and today the Malvasia grape produces a variety of red, rose and white wines, ranging from very dry to very sweet. Now that I have enlightened you with this truly amazing island, let me finish this blog with the excerpt from my travel-journal.
Following the main road south, which runs through the centre of the island, we headed directly into Teguise, the old capital city -which is named after a Guanche princess, where we stopped for a spot of lunch. After filling our bellies we pressed-on south, passing through the capital, Arrecife, before finally coming to a halt in Puerto Del Carmen –Lanzarote’s most popular holiday destination, where, after searching around for a while, in order to find a nice place to stay, we finally checked into a half-decent hotel, before going out for a night on the town. The hotel was quite small -especially in comparison to some of the resorts we have in Tenerife, but it did have a pleasurable ambience, and a friendly atmosphere, which is always a bonus.
Today was going to be a totally lazy day for all of us, and so we spent the next few hours splashing-about in the pool, and steaming our bodies in the open-air Jacuzzi, before trotting-off to the nearby beach for a paddle in the ocean. The evening also turned-out to be a very sedate affair, where we simply treated ourselves to a nice meal, and a few drinks in one of the local restaurants, before turning-in for an early night. The drive to Playa Blanca on the southern-most tip of Lanzarote took less than half-an-hour, giving us a few hours to kill on this truly magnificent beach, which is engulfed in Caribbean-styled waters, before having to board our ferry to Fuerteventura -and so after a wonderful swim, my good lady and I wandered over to the nearest bar for a drink, leaving the kids to continue their frolicking in the waves -under the watchful eyes of their parents of course.