Visiting Timanfaya National Park is one of the best things to do in Lanzarote, no doubt. Due to its peculiarity, it’s the most attractive place of the island, but let me interrupt and preface this post.
Lanzarote, the volcanic island
Lanzarote is a Canarian volcanic island, formed by the eruptions, which shaped it just like now. Naturally, it happened in a very long time: last eruptions occurred in 1730 and 1824. The first one lasted 6 years, with persistent spills of lava, which significantly altered the inner land and the costs as well. Consequently, the landscape in the nearby of Timanfaya Park is marked by a dark rocky coastline, overlooking the Ocean.
The lava flew until the Ocean and, once it reached the water, it variously solidified, styling locations such as Los Hervideros or El Golfo (you can read also: article on Lanzarote).
Volcanic eruptions made life difficult in Lanzarote as Tinajio ran the risk of being swamped by magma. It’s told that the contribution of the Vergin of Sorrows was extremely important to prevent it. Tinajo citizens carried the statue in procession, until the lava flow, which, by that time, stopped. There’s a wooden cross for commemorating that day, 16th April 1736.
Travel Tip: if you’re looking for a perfect place to stay, please read my post? Where to stay in Lanzarote
Visiting the Timanfaya National Park and its volcanoes
Timanfaya National Park, with its 50 square meters width, became a National interesting site in 1954. It has more than 25 volcanos, which create a continuum in the skyline of the island. It quickly appears, looking at Lanzarote by the satellite of Google Maps. They seem to be developed along a subterranean fault. However, they are inactive even if a few hundred meters below your feet they’re still teeming: right now, Lanzarote is quiet and friendly and we can’t assume a prospective eruption.
Since last eruptions, the Timanfaya National Park basically remained unchanged and in 1993 it became Unesco World heritage, being, classified as biospheric reserve. For coming over you need a special pass. The only way to discover this natural paradise is to enter in CACT “Montaña del Fuego”, get to the parking lot of the visitor center and continue the visit with the organized bus. I’ll write about this very soon.
César Manrique, a Canarian artist, who represented lots of Lanzarote places in his masterpieces, gave his personal tribute to the volcano Timanfaya majesty too.
Where better to exemplify the merger of nature and human creativity than on the edge of an apparently inactive volcano? The panoramic restaurant “El Diablo” was designed and built by Manrique on the Islote de Hilario; boldly, here you can enjoy unforgettable meats or fishes, as you prefer, cooked with the volcano’s heat.
Come closer to this natural bbq behind the restaurant and note the chef expertise. 13 meters deep, temperature swings between 100 and 600 degrees!
The restaurant nowadays is the symbol of the Park.
What to do inside the Timanfaya National Park?
Among breathtaking landscapes, down the Mancha Blanca – Yaiza road, in the black lunar atmosphere, there’s the park entrance, which has not to be confused with the right before Museum entrance. Anyway, you can go inside with your car, getting the ticket comfortable seated: adults 10 euros, children between 7 and 12 years old 5 euros (both 20% discounted after 3 pm). The bus tour is included in the price of your ticket, so don’t throw it away!
After 1 km, you’ll reach the Touristic Centre, the only place accessible on your own. Here you’ll find the famous restaurant and a gift store. Islote de Hilario is raised above the other volcanos, ensuring the fascinating effect between them and the far-away sea.
In no way you can creatively visit the park: you are a simple viewer of a touristic tour, but that’s fine.
A bus leaves every 15/20 minutes, driving quickly 13km along the “Rutas de Los Volcanos” (highest point at 450 meters above the sea level). Amazing landscapes break through this too small road. Unfortunately, the bus drives too fast, for me, but sometimes it stops for some pictures.
It takes half an hour to complete the tour, but it totally deserves, even if glasses were dirty. I would have appreciated a sightseeing bus, for better photos!
However, I can see in my mind regardless people throwing everything into the nature. So, I agree with the decision of the classical coach.
Buses leave and reach the Touristic Centre, where besides the bbq, you can enjoy a geyser show: they put some cold water inside a land pipe, which brought into contact with the heat causes a scenic steam jet.
Timanfaya National Park (or Montaña del Fuego CACT) opens every day from 9am until 5.45pm and the last bus leave at 5pm. During summer (1st July/30th Sept), it closes at 6.45pm.
What more to say about Timanfaya? Simply, you can’t miss it, because you get in touch with the deep natural essence of Lanzarote. The only regret I think is the lack of walking around autonomously or with certified guides. It would be gorgeous!
Hiking inside the Natural Park
Besides the National Park, there’s a Volcanos Natural Park, perhaps not so scenic, but certainly interesting. Closer to the center of Lanzarote, it boosts visitors to climb the slopes of some inactive volcanos, enjoying the area through guided tours.
Hiking inside the Park, you can note how the lava modified the landscape over the years: paths run alongside the solidified lava flows and you become one with the lunar atmosphere.
I did the tour with Gilles: he walked me inside the Park, telling about its history, eruptions, and volcanos peculiarities. Each color represents the expression of a different material: black is basalt or red is iron. Black and red dominate the landscape, making it unique.