Lanzarote is sometimes referred to as “The Devil’s Island”, a Spanish Island in the Canary Archipelago, in the southwestern part of Europe, just off the African coast. This island is not named The Devil’s Island because it is associated as a kingdom of Satan, but merely because of its unique geographical structure which is akin to eerie rock formation of Mars, erupting hot steam from underground and red soil which looks like hell.
Lanzarote Island was born out of fiery eruptions and is volcanic to the extreme — it has more than 300 active volcanoes. However, the weather is not hellish hot. Located at 29′ 00′ N and 13′ 40′ W, Lanzarote features a subtropical climate with average temperature ranging from 24 degrees Celsius in August and 17 degrees Celsius in January, making it a perfect summer tourism destination for, especially, European tourists.
Upon my visit to Lanzarote, I had an opportunity to visit Timanfaya National Park which was the tourism symbol of the island. I took a local tour provided by many local tour guides. My trip started from residential area near the sea. Buildings were very rare here and were somewhat distant from one another. In 2008, the population amounted to just 139.506 people in an area of 845,9 km2 or approximately the size of Singapore. Trees on the side of the road were also very rare and most of the buildings were white houses with low roofs. From residential area near the sea, I headed to the heart of the island.
This national park was situated in Tinajo which was the longest group of mountains on the island. From a distance, I started to see the place I was headed to, a group of camels were neatly lined up waiting for visitors. In “SAFARI LANZAROTE”, which is the main gate of Timanfaya National Park, riding a camel was the most interesting tourist attraction. Therefore, I tried it before I entered the national park. I rode a camel with two seats, on the right side and left side of its body, accompanied with my friend. You have to ride a camel with a balanced partner in weight if you do not want the camel walking lopsided on one side. We can enjoy an expanse of hilly desert while taking a camel ride.
After taking a ride around the red desert for about half an hour, the trip was continued to the national park area. The symbol of Timanfaya National Park was also the symbol of the island which was a silhouette of Satan created by a renowned artist, Cesar Manrique, who was born here. The symbol could be seen clearly welcoming the visitors at the front gate of the national park. We can take a short trip around the park which looks a lot like Mars with its dramatic hills, steep valleys, piled up rocks which form unique formations.
If you watch the film “Total Recall” starred by the current Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is exactly the same view you can see around the park. In the middle of the park, situated in quite high position, there was a restaurant named “El Diablo” which meant “The Devil” in Spanish and gift shops for visitors to buy souvenirs. I stopped at this place to have lunch and to take some rest. In this restaurant, we can see the food cooked directly over the hearth with natural hot steam from the bottom of the Earth. The building features glass-covered room allowing us to eat the local cuisine of the island, which is usually called Canarian food, and a view like we were in Mars space station.
On the outside of the building, we also can see the attraction of blasting hot steam shown by officers. They did this by spilling water into the steam hole which, in a matter of second, sprayed water with such a pressure in a high speed. Also, the wind blew pretty strong in this area. You will have a hard time trying to walk against the direction of the wind or you will feel dragged down by the wind if you try to walk in the wind direction. We can buy a variety of souvenirs created by Manrique for friends or family at home. When I was done shopping, my trip ended back to the inn in a residential area on the coast.
Words and photos by Aditya Arnoldi