As the plane begins its descent it rapidly becomes apparent that Lanzarote is not your run of the mill holiday destination.
Glancing out of the windows passengers start to glimpse the raw, volcanic scenery – created by massive eruptions in the 1730’s – which left around one quarter of the island’s surface area swathed beneath a sea of black molten lava. Before emerging from the plane into warm sunshine, as whatever time of the year they are touching down they will be enjoying temperatures well into the 20’s Celsius, thanks to Lanzarote’s locaton just off the coast of North West Africa.
Indeed Lanzarote is part of the Canary Islands chain – those seven sun drenched specks of Spain that over the centuries have been dubbed both the Fortunate Islands and The Islands of Eternal Spring, thanks to their mellow and clement climate.
However these dreamy descriptions don’t really paint the full picture – as it can also be blisteringly hot here during the summer months, when temperatures climb into the mid 30’s plus. Whilst the Trade Winds, which used to blow Spanish galleons towards the New World, huff and puff from April to August, making the islands popular with wave based adrenalin junkies such as wind and kite surfers as well as more mainstream sun seekers.
Timanfaya National Park
A visit to the Timanfaya National Park – the epicentre of the eruptions on Lanzarote – is an absolute must, as this is quite literally the hottest attraction on the island. Here, just beneath the centre of the earth, the temperature reaches an infernally warm 600 degrees Celsius. Which the uniformed park wardens are only to happy to demonstrate by pouring water into small geysers in the ground – then standing back quickly as jets of steam are rapidly emitted in response.
All of this action takes place on top of a dormant volcano against the surreal backdrop of mile after mile of twisted, lava-baked terrain. Visitors can explore these lunar vistas and get up close and personal on board expertly driven coaches which wend their way through the volcano park on a pre-set 45 minute route.
The work of the locally born artist César Manrique is also out of this world and the influence of Lanzarote´s landsape is evident in the textures and colours of many of his canvasses.
Manrique was the man who helped to put Lanzarote on the map back in the 1970´s – as the island attempted to maintain a delicate balance between mass market tourism and environmental conservation. And it is thanks to his efforts that Lanzarote today remains relatively unspoiled, with no high rise buildings allowed and tourist development restricted to the southern coastline.
Manrique also developed some unique visitor attractions which work in harmony with the volcanic landscapes – such as his amazing Cactus Garden and the breathtaking Jameos del Agua,which he created against the backdrop of a massive, collapsed volcanic tunnel.
So Lanzarote really is a destination with a difference. For anyone planning a break on the island there is a wide selection of self-catering properties available – click here to view (=http://www.optimavillaslanzarote.com/view-lanzarote-villas) a selection from local holiday company Optima Villas. Whilst cheap flights to Lanzarote from the UK are readily available with budget operators such as Ryanair and easyJet, with a journey time of about four hours.