The Fiery Past of Timanfaya National Park
Often referred to as the Island of a thousand volcano’s Lanzarote was born 15 million years ago when the American and African tectonic plate split creating what is today called the Canary Hotspot.
While visiting Lanzarote in 1912 German geophysicist Alfred Wegener proved how his theory of continental drift caused the creation of the Canary Islands.
In European history Lanzarote is famous for a series of devastating volcanic eruptions that caused lava to cover a quarter of the island forming the Timanfaya National Park.
On the evening of September 1st, 1730, a massive explosion was heard, as an enormous mountain rose from the earth lighting up the night sky for the next 19 days. Even though the fiery spectacle did not last, lava continued to flow out of the many fissures covering a large part of the island as far as the Atlantic Ocean for the next five months.
In total, the subsequent eruptions lasted until April 16th, 1736, during which time 32 new volcanoes were created that stretch for 18 miles devastating the most fertile soil on Lanzarote along with 11 villages.
1768 proved to be a difficult time for the islanders due to the volcano legacy, which along with a winter drought forced many of the inhabitants to flee to Cuba and the Americas.
Timanfaya volcano erupted again in 1824 without loss of life and while still an active volcano today poses no imminent threat to Lanzarote or to the thousands of tourists who visit the Timanfaya National Park each year.
A tour of the Timanfaya National Park is almost mandatory for anyone who comes to Lanzarote on holiday. The eerie barren lava fields of the Park, where certain temperatures can still reach 100C underfoot reminds you that while dormant there is a lava chamber below full of molten magma.
On a tour of the Park to prove the point that not all is dead, your tour guide will throw a bundle of branches into a hole in the ground as you watch them instantaneously ignite.
In another display of what lies below your tour guide will pour a bucket of water down a 13-metre hole with it only to shoot back up in the air similar the eruption of Old Faithful geyser in Yellow Stone National Park in America.
As if this and a scenic drive through the Martian landscape of the Park was not enough, you also have the opportunity to have your photograph taken while riding a camel through the lava fields.
Timanfaya National Park is located on the west coast of the island north of El Golfo and Los Hervideros. The Park is open to the public from 9am until 6pm with last entry allowed in at 5pm.
Entry to the Park costs 8€ and is only permitted on a guided walking tour or coach party.