Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

The island of Lanzarote is only 37 miles long and 12 miles wide, making it the fourth largest Canary Island, and ideal for hiring a car and doing some trips out while you are there.

We stayed in Playa Blanca, which is at the south west tip of the island, but it was easy to get about by car with well signposted roads and not much traffic.

We hired a car, a Vauxhall Mokka, through the hotel, for four days.  At home we drive a bit of a beast of a car so it was a lot smaller than we were used to but fit the four of us fine and we just about got Mini ATWWAH’s McLaren pram in the boot.  It was a lot zippier than our car at home though, possibly as it was so small and the manual gearbox tested Mr ATWWAH’s driving as he is so used to an automatic.

Our first trip out was to Timanfaya National Park, a 15 minute drive away from Playa Blanca, and is a must-see for any new visitor to Lanzarote.  It was declared a national park in 1968 and is made up of ‘the fire mountains’ which were created between 1730 and 1736 when more than 100 volcanoes rose up and erupted, destroying large areas of the island including villages.  The last eruptions were in 1824 but as there is low rainfall the area looks pretty much the same as it did then as there has been a lack of erosion.

As you drive towards Timanfaya you can already see what is described as ‘the martian landscape’ which at first looks so weird but you get used to it after awhile.  It is very odd.

Timanfaya

The martian landscape of Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

When we arrived we joined a queue of traffic including cars and coaches and you are let through in batches of a few cars at a time after paying.  It costs 9euro per adult, children are free.  You then drive around a ‘route’ to a car park.  Although the car park etc was pretty well organised with people pointing you in the right direction as to where to park it was a bit confusing as to what we were going to do next.  First and foremost due to the cold weather I changed from my shorts to my jeans in the car and made sure Master and Mini were layered up.  The wind literally took your breath away as soon as you left the car.

We headed inside straight away not really knowing what to expect and found ourselves in a café/restaurant so decided to feed Mini ATWWAH and get drinks and cookies ourselves.  The restaurant food looked lovely and when I nipped to the loo I spotted one of the interesting features of Timanfaya, an oven which cooked the fish and chicken from the heat below.  Temperatures just a few metres below the surface reach between 400 and 600 centigrade.

food

Cooking using the volcanic heat

Once we’d eaten and I changed Master ATWWAH’s nappy in the dodgy baby change, literally a bit of worktop next to the sink, we headed to the coaches.  The whole idea behind Timanfaya is you go on a coach trip when you get there, you can’t explore the national park yourself, and it becomes apparent why when you are on the coach.

The coaches run every few minutes and there are rooms for prams, bags etc underneath.  The coach journey lasted around 30 minutes and had a pre-recorded commentary in many languages explaining what happened when the volcanoes erupted and what you could see from out of the window and the scientific research they are doing there now.

view from coach

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Master ATWWAH loved it.  He was in his element listening to the commentary and looking at everything.  It was really nice to see him so interested in something and for the rest of the holiday we had a lot of volcano chat.

Once we got off the coach we were ushered over to watch the demonstrations which were pretty impressive.  These included pouring water into a hole and seconds later witnessing a mini-geyser and a dry bush thrown into a hole which catches fire immediately.

mini geyser

The ‘mini geyser’ at Timanfaya National Park

Master ATWWAH wanted to go on the coach trip again but we managed to talk him out of it with a promise to return later in the week (we didn’t, bad parents!)  We were lucky on the first trip that Mini ATWWAH slept all the way around but there was no way he’d have sat still for a second go.

We were there for about three hours or so in total and it was definitely worth the admission fee.  As we were leaving Lanzarote on the flight home I even heard Master ATWWAH say ‘goodbye volcanoes’ as we took off.

Have you been to Timanfaya?  Please let me know what you thought and add any links to posts you may have written about it.

If you liked this post, you might like:

The lowdown on Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel, Playa Blanca

Where to eat in Playa Blanca with kids

 

3 Comments
  1. Timanfaya is probably my favourite bit of Lanzarote – the landscape really is so alien but beautiful in a stark barren way. Here’s my post about visiting with a baby (http://www.mummytravels.com/2012/11/27/the-baby-and-the-volcano/). I definitely want to go back when she’s older too, the water trick never gets old!

  2. So glad I came across this post, it’s by far the most useful thing I’ve read in researching the best way to explore Timanfaya. We have a 2 year old and 5 month old so are pleased to hear that the coach trip isn’t too long. Thanks a lot!xx

  3. Timanfaya National Park seems a good option for my son. I know that it would be a bit difficult for me to take him there due to his disability but still I will definitely try it.

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