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The Timanfaya National Park was formed during a series of volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736 that shock the island when over 100 volcanoes came to life spewing ash and gravel that destroyed 30 villages and a third of the best farmland on Lanzarote.
During 1824 there was another minor eruption that lasted for two months, but for all intents and purposes the volcanoes are now all extinct apart from Mount Timanfaya that shows no indication of erupting again anytime soon.
Located on the south-western coast of Lanzarote covering over 50 square kilometres, the park resembles photographic images relayed to earth from the Mars Rover, regardless of having only been formed less the 300 years ago.
Despite having magical vistas that stretch down to the Atlantic Ocean, the desolate landscape known locally as the malpaíses (“badlands”) Timanfaya is home to over 200 plant species, but few mammals due to a lack of water and food.
Saying that, you will come across rabbit’s rats and the Canary shrew, as well as two reptiles, the Atlantic lizard and the East Canary gecko. Insects and spiders have, however adapted well to the arid conditions with 120 species calling the mountains of fire their home.
Due to Lanzarote’s close proximity to Africa (125 kilometres), Timanfaya is home to numerous migratory birds and 20 nesting species that are found along the park's isolated coast, where if you are lucky you may spot the rare Barbary Falcon.
The visitor centre
Activity in the park revolves around the César Manrique designed “El Diablo” restaurant where you can sample food cooked using thermal heat. Demonstrations are also available to show just how hot it is just several metres below ground.
In one of the demonstrations a ball of hay is thrown into a hole where it almost immediately ignites, while in another a bucket of water is poured into a fissure only to explode in a vapour of steam similar to the geysers in Yellowstone.
Walking through to park without a guide is not allowed due to the wildness of the terrain and the possibility of falling prey to a collapsing lava tube.
Guided tours are available four times a week with a park ranger, but due to their popularity, it is better to sign up in advance at the visitor centre or contact the park by telephone or email to book your place on the three-hour walk.
For a novelty view of the park, you can ride on a camel, with groups setting off from the visitor centre near Mancha Blanca every 20 minutes.
Most visitors to Timanfaya opt for the bus tour that departs from the “El Diablo” restaurant every 20 minutes with pre-recorded commentary as you traverse the Ruta de los Volcanes.
To get to the Timanfaya National Park drive to the visitor centre (free admission) Carretera LZ-67 La Santa-Yaiza, km 9.6; Mancha Blanca.
The entrance to the Montañas del Fuego is done through the main entrance of the park (Taro de Entrada), located a few kilometres further up the LZ-67.
The park is open seven days a week from 10am until 6pm.
Admission is 8€ which includes the bus tour through the park.