Timanfaya National Park and the volcanoes in Lanzarote

The austere, otherworldly landscape of Lanzarote is shaped by hundreds of volcanic cones, many of them dating back to a series of devastating eruptions in the 1730s. For six years from 1730 to 1736, volcanic activity covered 200 square km of fertile farmland with layers of ash and lava, destroying up to 20 villages and causing most of the island’s inhabitants to flee to nearby islands. Part of this area now forms the Timanfaya National Park, one of the most popular attractions in Lanzarote.

The parish priest at Yaiza wrote in his diary ” a gigantic mountain rose and sunk back into its crater on the same day with such a terrifying sound, covering the island with stones and ashes. The fiery lava streams descended like rivers towards the sea with the ash, rocks and dense smoke making life impossible

Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote Photo
Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote

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Timanfaya National Park

A slice of the surreal moonscape left by the cooling lava was established in 1974 as the Timanfaya National Park and the whole of Lanzarote was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1993, in recognition of this unique landscape. Most of the volcanoes in Lanzarote are now dormant, but you can visit the Montañas del Fuego or Fire Mountains within the park to feel the heat of the volcanic activity at first hand.

Los Volcanes National Park Lanzarote Photo
Los Volcanes National Park Lanzarote

A visit to the Timanfaya National Park is one of the most popular things to do in Lanzarote and there are numerous guided tours that will take you there, although it’s easy to visit independently, so long as you have a hire car.

While the Timanfaya National Park covers around 50 square km of the whole volcanic landscape, it’s worth knowing that the less well known Parque Natural de los Volcanes covers a further 100 square km around Timanfaya, offering even more opportunities to experience the Lanzarote volcanoes.

Montañas del Fuego in Timanfaya National Park

From the ticket booth on the LZ-67 road, a short drive takes you to the start point for the Montañas del Fuego. Leave your car in the car park and take one of the coaches waiting to take you on the tour that’s included with your ticket. Cost of the ticket is €12 per adult payable at the ticket booth by the main road.

As far as the eye can see are the lava fields and volcanoes that were created in the eruptions of the 1730s, which have created a lunar landscape of rich brown and copper red. Through this has been carved a single track road called the Ruta de los Volcanes making a loop through the national park with striking views and occasional steep drops.

Tip: If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, you can get a joint ticket from CACT Lanzarote which covers to Montanas del Fuego and 5 other attractions for €30, a saving of around €10.

Timanfaya National Park Lanzarote
Timanfaya National Park Lanzarote

The coach tour on the Ruta de los Volcanes

You can’t walk or drive the Ruta de los Volcanes in your own car and the tour is in a standard size coach, which does have some limitations. Although there was an interesting recorded commentary played in several languages, the only opportunities for photos are through the coach windows.

We had a couple of quick photo stops to take photos from the coach doorway, but were not allowed to get out. We found there were better photo opportunities once we had returned to the car park from the terraces below the El Diablo restaurant.

Coach Tour Ruta de los Volcanes in Timanfaya National Park Photo
Coach Tour Ruta de los Volcanes in Timanfaya National Park

Tip: As time is limited, if you want to take photos, try to sit close to the coach doorway so that you are first in the queue to take photos.

Montañas del Fuego at Timanfaya National Park Photo
Montañas del Fuego at Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya – Geothermal demonstrations

The Montañas del Fuego or Mountains of Fire, are named after the location at Islote de Hilario which still has some volcanic activity. On finishing the coach tour, we were directed to the terrace below the El Diablo restaurant to get a flavour of this at first hand. The red gravel on which we stood was warm to touch and through a hole in the earth, our guide demonstrated that the hot magma was not far below, by tossing in a few branches of brushwood, which burst into flames in the heat.

El Diablo Restaurant at Timanfaya National Park Photo
El Diablo Restaurant at Timanfaya National Park

Next the guide demonstrated a geyser effect by pouring a bucket of water into a hole in the ground which trickles down to the hot volcanic rock. Stand well back and a few seconds later a geyser of steam erupted high into the air before subsiding again – impressive!

If you don’t have a car you may want to book this half day tour that includes the camel ride and tour of the Montañas del Fuego.

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