Timanfaya is Lanzarote’s most popular tourist excursion, a breathtaking landscape that has thrilled millions of visitors. Recently, the Isla Insólita (“extraordinary island”) trips have offered a chance to see parts of the national park usually off-limits to visitors. Our correspondent went along to find out more.
Timanfaya has been on my “to-do list” for quite a while, but it kept getting pushed back to a later date. I regret not experiencing it earlier now. As luck would have it, when I finally did decide to go, I got the chance to experience the “Isla Insólita” tour.
It wasn’t what I expected, and it certainly exceeded my expectations. There are amazing panoramic views of the volcanic landscape and blustering winds. It’s a harsh landscape, from the lichen-covered rocks to the insects that come out to feed at night.
Sitting in the tour bus as it slowly meanders through the untouched fields of volcanic rock and jagged outcrops gives a real sense of scale. It’s quite surreal.
As part of the “Insólita” tour, we stopped at Montaña Rajada (“Cracked Mountain”), which is usually off-limits to tourists and we walked up to a viewpoint that showcased the absolute best that Timanfaya has to offer. From there, the guide talked to us about the formation of the volcanoes and the name “Timanfaya”. I was surprised to learn that “Chimanfaya” was the original name of a village that used to exist before the eruptions covered it completely in volcanic material. Its new name comes from a fault in translation or writing and was misinterpreted as “Timanfaya”.
I’d learnt many new facts about the National Park from the voice-over on the tour bus alone, but the tour guide went above and beyond to talk about the ecological information of the landscape. One of the more interesting words was “Jameo”, meaning a volcanic tube that allows natural light to shine in.
After experiencing Montaña Rajada we joined the normal route again, which took us back up to the restaurant to learn about the heat still emanating from the volcanoes. The restaurant is an eco-friendly haven, using local products from the island and the natural heat of the Earth to cook the food. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
The main grill used in the restaurant is something I can only describe as a large well; except where there would be water, there is immense heat from the earth’s centre. That’s all there is to it, a large metal grid sits on top with food sizzling away.
The “cherry on top” of the Insolita trips is that you get to try a tasting menu at the end of the tour, along with a glass of local wine. The Canarian potatoes, goats’ cheese, tomatoes and grilled meats were spectacular. As boring as plain old tomatoes might sound, they might just be the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten.
Thanks to CACT for allowing us to visit Timanfaya and photograph its amazing landscape.
The Isla Insolita tours take place three times weekly at Timanfaya and Jameos del Agua, and generous discounts are available for residents. Reserve at www.cactlanzarote.com.