The Montaņas del Fuego (Fire Mountains), to give them there proper name were created in the 1730's when more than 100 volcanos in what is now the National Park, rose up to devastate the southern part of the island. Eruptions lasted for six years and several villages were completely destroyed. The last eruption on the island was in 1824.
Because Lanzarote has such low rainfall (and therefore a lack of erosion) the area appears much as it did at the time and in 1968 the area was declared a national park "Parque Nacional de Timanfaya". We decided to make a full day of this trip and we firmly belive that this a must see for any visitor to the island, because of its unique 'martian' landscape and rare plant species. On entry to the national park (entrance was around 8 euros per person, as I recall, and the small children were free as is usual at many of the islands attractions), the first thing to catch our eye were camels and of course we had to stop because the children wanted a ride ! An hour or so later, we arrived at the Car park of the Islote de Hilario, where we saw a crowd of people standing around a hole. This was to be the first of two quite stunning demonstrations of just how hot the area is just below the ground.
We were told that temperatures a few metres below ground are a staggering 400°C to 600°C. Dry bushes were thrown into a hole and in less than a minute, it caught fire ! Water was then poured into a bore hole and seconds later the water erupted back into the air as steam and we all got a warm shower because we were standing on the wrong side. Next up was the 'El Diablo' restaurant, another creation of the famous artist (Cesar Manrique), whose influence is everywhere on the island. Here we find traditional Canarian food cooked using geothermal heat (A cast-iron grill placed over a large hole in the ground). Where else in the world can you get your food cooked on a volcano ! We then went on a coach trip of the National Park (part of the entrance fee). If your feeling a little queasy or don't like heights don't sit by the window as it can be quite scary (but very safe and the children absolutely loved it).
The coach stops at several strategic points in order that you can get some amazing pictures and film (so don't forget to take the camera/video with you). During the trip we listened to recorded narration based on words captured by the priest of Yaiza at the time of the eruptions. Another great day and another great attraction. .
By: John Plumb