Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Fabulous Fire Mountains

It was six years of eruptions in the 18th century that formed these fantastic mountains on Lanzarote and the highest ones are still hot.  One of the hottest areas is Isolte de Hilario where at only 10cm below ground the temperature is 140c and at 61cm down it is over 460c. The first 'experiment' we encountered on arrival was to pass around a small pebble that had been dug up. Yes, very hot, but it did have one advantage - it warmed out hands. We had all taken jackets against the cold but most of us had forgotten our gloves.

This volcanic area is the Timanfaya National Park. Timanfaya and Tinecheide being the names of the mountains.

I didn't get to see the other two 'experiments' properly. The first was the burning bush. A gentleman held the bush down into a small crater. First it started smouldering, then it burst into flames. Unfortunately, when it began smouldering the smoke blew into my eyes and I had to turn away. The last demonstration was an imitation geyser. A man poured some water into a deep hole, he fled, then hot water spurted up. He did this twice and on both occasions a lady's head got in the way of my view. Same lady.

We were then directed into the cafe where some had wine or coffee. Once I had thawed out I left to take a stroll in the area. The scenery is spectacular and, when you look carefully the colours come to the fore. It isn't just boring old brown lava. Here and there are dots of green looking like pin cushions. Just around a corner I found myself looking at an artist's pallet of colour. Grey-green, a field of bright grass green, a strip of ochre mixed with orange. Breathtaking.

The drive through the lava fields was superb. Devised by local artist the late Cesar Manrique the narrow road twists and turns to display the scenery to its best - and most artistic - advantage. Petrified waves, gorges, towering pillars and some really scary shapes.

If you have visited Lanzarote and wondered about the fields (some on hills) with low crescent shaped walls, wonder no more. They are vineyards. Due to the winds that blow across this island the vines are low growing and the walls protect them.

Before I finish let me recommend another gorgeous sight. El Golfo is a deep emerald green lagoon and is half of a volcanic crater. The other half is in the sea.

This was another excursion from my Canary Islands cruise on P&O's Oriana.

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