One of the most common symbols that you see in Lanzarote is this devil, called El Diablo. I bought a keyring with him on it but you can find him on pretty much everything, from T-shirts and mugs to ornaments and ear-rings.
El Diablo was created by César Manrique, Lanzarote's most famous artist, whose sculptures are dotted all over the island. He is the symbol of the Timanfaya National Park and on day 4 of our holiday in Lanzarote, after a couple of pool days, that's exactly where we were headed.
Partly because it worked out much cheaper than the organised excursions but also because it gave us much more freedom to do what we wanted, we decided to hire a car for the day and go exploring all over the southern part of the island. We got a Clio, which was Madhouse Daddy's original car when we first got together, so it was a bit of a blast from the past !
The road to Timanfaya led us through the bleak, black lava fields that look just like moonscapes. There's literally nothing growing here, which seems very strange.
Timanfaya covers an area of just over 50 square kilometres (almost 20 square miles), made up entirely of black volcanic soil. You're not allowed to drive or walk around the park by yourself. You have to go on a coach, which means that you get a commentary in several languages to point out the key features. You don't have to book in advance - you just arrive by car, pay your entrance fee (9€ per adult, half price for children) then jump on one of the coaches next to the welcome area. The car park only has room for about 100 cars so once it's full, you have to queue on the road at the bottom and wait until there is space and the ushers wave you through. You're advised to arrive early (around 9am, when it opens) or late in the day to avoid having to wait for a couple of hours - we arrived around 9.30 and only had to wait for about 20 minutes.
There is another option - you can join one of the Timanfaya by camel excursions !
The biggest eruptions occurred in the 1730s. Pierre was disappointed that we didn't see lava and fire pouring out of the volcanoes as he apparently expected !
The photos don't do it justice because you don't get a sense of the scale but you can imagine the power of the eruptions as you drive past the canyons and craters.
In some places, you can see exactly how the lava looked as it flowed down from the craters, setting solid as it cooled.
I know it's a cliche, but it really does resemble what I imagine the scenery on the moon to look like.
The coach drops you off where it picked you up, next to the gift shop and restaurant.
There can't be many places in the world where you can eat chicked grilled over the heat of a volcano !
This is also where you get to see the most exciting part of the visit - a man with a bucket pours some water down a hole and a few seconds later, a geyser of steam shoots up in the air. These guys must really enjoy their jobs !
In another display of the intense heat below the ground, another man used a pitchfork to put some dry branches a few feet down a hole and a few moments later, they caught fire.
It was a bit disconcerting that there were no fences around either of these displays and sometimes, the guys wandered off leaving them unattended, so it's worth keeping a close eye on your kids ! You get a better idea in the little videos we took.
Pierre wondered what would happen if you weed down the hole, which made me laugh !
Time for a family selfie and it was back to the car to continue our exploration of the island. More about that in my next blogposts !