Pirate stories and wine tastings in Lanzarote’s heartland

A full day itinerary concentrating in and around Teguise, in the heart of Lanzarote. You should consider doing this itinerary on any day of the week except Sunday. On Sundays there is a big and rather touristic market taking place in Teguise old town that detracts from the peacefulness and serenity of the place.

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Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote – all you need to know for a visit with the kids

After a failed attempt to visit the National Park on our very first day on the island, we came back prepared. And we are glad we did! The views were great, showcasing the power of nature and changing through a variety of colours from yellows to deep black. The photos barely do it justice. This national park is truly unique in the world.

Most important is to come early and preferably in the beginning of the week. Avoid Sundays, particularly during peak season (Catholic Easter Week and July to August). The entrance to the park opens around 9 AM. You buy your ticket (children under 6 enter free) and continue driving for another 5 min till you reach a marked parking. We arrived shortly before 10 AM and everything worked smoothly. No queuing.

You will leave your car and board a special bus that takes you on a panoramic drive through the park. Buses leave when filled, there is no set timetable. Depending on the arrivals, you might have to wait 10 min or so before the bus is ready to leave.  Do get a seat at the window to enjoy the views and keep the little ones entertained. It is not possible to leave the bus during the drive that will last about 40-50 min. You can use the toilets at the restaurant before boarding the bus.

Take a warm pullover or jacket, especially if visiting first thing in the morning. The difference in temperature can be huge between the first hours of the morning and mid-day. Also, a small bottle of water might come in handy if you do not want to buy one at the restaurant.

After the bus tour ends, do not leave immediately. Just in front of the bus parking there is a semi-circular viewing area where you can take wonderful pictures of the lava fields and crater. Walk till the end of the viewing platform and you will see a grill that works with the underground heat.

In the middle of the viewing platform, park staff demonstrate every 15-20 min the power of the heat coming from underground. They put water in one of the heat evacuation pipes. The water comes back to the surface as steam, in an a motion that looks a bit like a geyser. Small kinds were greatly entertained by this phenomenon!

Finally, have a coffee (and get warmed up) in the circular lobby of the Restaurant designed by Cesar Manrique. You do not need a reservation to visit this part of the restaurant. It is opened in the morning, as early as the first scheduled bus departure. It is recommended to book if you would like to have lunch on the premises.

As a side trip from in the National Park you can take a camel ride. The Echadero de los Camellos in Parque Nacional de Timanfaya is easy to find by car, it’s on the main road from Yaiza LZ-67 as you approach the visitor attraction. Simply turn into the large car park when you arrive where you can see the camels lined up and waiting patiently for their next passengers. There’s no need to book, you can simply turn up at any time between 09:00 and 16:00 for a camel ride. It costs €12 per camel. The camel ride takes around 20 minutes. We skipped it but many (older) kids seemed thrilled after the experience.

The last bus departure in Spring is at 17h. The park closes at 17h45. We left the park at 11.30h and car queues were forming both before the park entrance and to get into the parking.

Enjoy your visit and let me know if you have more tips.

Happy travels!

Live from Lanzarote – an island packed with outdoor adventures for the whole family

We landed in Lanzarote a few days ago and it has been a bit of a mixed experience in the beginning. We were looking for an ‘ outdoor ‘ destination where we can spend time in nature and shake off the European Winter blues. Instead, we were greeted by a flurry of tourist buses to all-inclusive resorts and a purpose-built ‘village ‘ where every other restaurant offers an all-day English breakfast.

When we reached our accomodation in Puerto del Carmen, we were determined to find something a bit more authentic than a street dotted with Irish pubs.  We designed the itinerary of the next days as we went and asked recommendations from the locals. The main objective was to spend time outdoors and enjoy the glorious weather. With an island as compact as Lanzarote, nothing is really too far away.

Our LO was thrilled with all he saw and experienced that day. For the adults, the walk around Montagna Colorada with its lunar landscapes plus the fresh fish restaurant were probably the highlights.

Here is the full day South island discovery itinerary:

Head towards the Timanfaya national park visitor’s center at Mancha Blanca. It is completely free and you can walk around to check out explanations about volcanic activity and the geologic formation of the Canary Islands. Preschool kids seem to find the explanations about the local flora and fauna more interesting.

Once per hour there is a projection of two short movies, one about volcanoes and volcanic activity and a second about the flora and fauna. They are in Spanish but you can use your headphones to listen to an English/french/German interpretation. Bring a pair of headphones if the children would like to watch this short documentary in English. Otherwise, they do sell them at the receptio of the visitor center. Eash movie is about 20 min long.

There are some good photo opportunities when you leave the building and follow the wooden path outside, above the lava fields. The landscape is like nothing you have seen before: rugged lava towers till the horizon.

Before leaving the Visitor center, stop at the info point just before the entrance and ask how is the traffic on the local road leading to the Bus volcano route. If the road is not too congested, head to the bus stop and continue with this tour around the crater. When we visited, the cars were waiting in line for 2 h to reach the departure point so we decided to leave this journey for another day and head for a walk on the lava fields in the Parque Los Volcanos.

If you are accompanied by kids or plan to be pushing a stroller, there are two walks that are recommended for their good accesibility. They are not well signposted but you will find the departure points on local road LZ-56. One is a circular walk around a red colored hill that in recognised locally as Montana Colorada. The other is a walk to a crater rim and back that should last about one hour.

We did the Montana Colorada with the baby mosly in the stroller and it was a bumpy but fun experience. The car park is a few meters after the Km 3 mark on road LZ-56, on the left side of the road in direction Geria. The road is mosly little volcanic rock and sand so make sure your stroller has large wheels. Our McLaren Quest struggled uphill and we took our LO on the shoulders for a few rough patches. It took us about one hour to do the tour, with frequent photo and ‘picking up stones and throwing them back’ opportunities. Bring water, a hat and a long-sleeve. In open spaces, the wind can be quite cold.

The walk completed, we were ready for some fresh fish. A small village on the Southern outskirts of the Timanfaya national park, El Golfo, was recommended by our accomodation. We headed there, at La Rafa del Mar. All waiters were very nice, even if a bit rushed as there were ever more customers waiting for tables. They had high chairs and even a changing mat in the bathroom. The grilled octopus was excellent!

El Golfo has some great views of the ocean waves crushing on the shores. If you continue walking the main street, bordered by all the restaurants, you will reach a modern and colourful playground. On the left of the playground, begins a coastal walk of a few kilometers. The terrain is rough and serious shoes and trekking gear are necessary.

Just before entering El Golfo, a large parking on the left side of the road leads to a high view point of the whole coast. From the same point, one can walk 3 minutes to the Green Lake (Lagoa Verde). The view of the striated rock formations on the background is impressive. El Golfo is actually a half-submerged cone of a volcano, which over time has been eroded by the sea, leaving behind only the striated wall of the crater displaying a myriad of red and russet colours.

Finally, the last stop before returning to our accomodation, was the Salinas del Janubio. Here, water is pumped from the ocean and, once evaporated, salt is extracted the old fashioned way for the local economy.

Next, we planed a full-day itinerary following the footsteps of Cesar Manrique, the architect behind many of the island’s attractions and lanscaped villages. Stay tuned.

Happy travels!

Tenerife- in search of the ‘real’ island in our first family vacation

I travelled well into my pregnancy, with the last trip to Puglia when I was about 7 months along. We also had a gorgeous ‘babymoon’ to Sri Lanka and Maldive that I shared on the blog. Still, after giving birth, I was again eager to discover someplace new and I started looking for a destination that we could share as a family in early April 2016. Friends were travelling at the same time to Tenerife so we decided to tag along.

It was not a package holiday but we did take it easy as regards accomodation and went for half board. We did not know how the baby will adapt (4 months at the time of travel) and preferred to make sure there will be some easily reachable food in case he decides to act up just as dinner draws close. We also rented a car (with a car seat) to give us some flexibility to explore the island.

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