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.