I Went Inside a Volcano | Lanzarote Highlights

25 November 2017



Last week I was in Lanzarote, and I already really miss it. It's possible that I'm already looking up costs of flights to fly back again for a few days before Christmas (may also be so that I can SURF again. THAT'S A SPOILER FOR ANOTHER POST!)

I stayed in Puerto del Carmen, and while taking a walk around with my step sister, Kirstin, I spotted an excursion called "Lanzarote Highlights", which was being offered by Low Cost Tours (not a sponsored post). If you know me quite well, or you follow me on twitter or instagram, then you'll probably be aware that I really like geology, and in particular, Volcanoes. So, when I read this leaflet and read exactly what was being offered to me, I couldn't restrain myself (I think Kirstin might have seen a Gail-shaped cloud of smoke as I ran back into the excursion office.) The trip was booked for November 16th, where I paid a 13 Euro deposit, with a remaining 46 Euros to be paid on the coach. I was excited.

The day arrived in no time, and at 9.40am I was picked up outside the Casino, where I met my tour guide for the day, Radmila (Hola, Radmila!), where she presented me with a blue sticker which meant that I was part of the Lanzarote Highlights tour. (There was a mix of different coloured stickers, all of which were to do with pick up and drop of points for different tours.)

It wouldn't be fair for me to start off talking about the tour without taking a couple of minutes to talk about Radmila (especially knowing that she'll likely be reading this post!) She really was great, and she made a lot of really funny jokes ("There are 300 camels in Lanzarote, from the 15th century... Not the same ones!") and various pop culture references, such as to Star Trek and Star Wars. She really made an effort to talk to everybody on the bus - and there was 80 of us! As well as taking the time to take pictures for everybody. Not only that, but impressively, she conducted the entire tour in three languages; English, Spanish and German, and it's honestly inspired me so much to continue my efforts to learn more French, Spanish and re-learn my Mandarin, because I got a bit sloppy with my duolingo. (You might have realised I've updated my bio to reflect upon this, because if it's there, then I'll need to stick to it.) Radmila was also incredibly passionate about what she was doing, and it was so obvious, I really don't blame her, either, because she is literally living my dream job! It was also really funny when she spotted me taking notes;

"How are you?"
"Good, you?"
"Good. Taking notes?"
"Yeah, I write a blog!"
"A blog!? I'll have to treat you well!"

So, the first proper stop on the tour was to Timanfaya national park, where we got to watch three geothermic demonstrations. At this point, I feel like I should admit that I've actually seen these demonstrations before. I last visited Timanfaya national park when I was 10 years old, which was 13 years ago. I remember that we went up the side of the volcano on a camel (must have been a different excursion from this one!) and I remember watching in awe and wonderment at everything that unfolded in front of me.

Interestingly, Timanfaya National Park is the only one of all Spain's national parks that is geological, which I don't know about you, but for me that makes it pretty special. The whole island has additionally been named "a reserve for the biosphere". Anyway, the first demonstration was simple, it was basically an individual game of hot potato. We all stood in a circle and then were given a small handfull of rock that had been shovelled up from the surface. The rock was heated, and I found the amount of people immediately dropping the rock upon contact really funny, because we were warned that it was hot! If I remember rightly, the rock was roughly 60-100 degrees C. Demonstration number two was a bit more exciting. Some vegetation was dropped into a small pit and we all watched as it quickly set on fire. This demonstration, I believe, was roughly 250 degrees C, but can reach 435 degrees C. Lastly, at just under 400 degrees C, we all stood far back and watched as the demonstrator poured water into metal tubes deep into the ground, and watched as the water rapidly shot back into the air, like a geyser. After that, we all began to witness a geothermic BBQ. I don't think any more really needs said. The earth is so incredible, and so powerful, I don't think people tend to realise or appreciate it enough. After this, Radmila told the women in the group that they should "take a picture of your husbands standing in front of el Diablo, so it looks like he has horns coming out of his head!". I got a picture with my Bill and Ted pop vinyls. Because it was an Excellent Adventure. #nerd.

Back on the bus, we listened to a CD in Spanish, English and German once more as we travelled along the route of the volcanoes, where we were told about the last volcanic eruption documented on Lanzarote. The last eruptions were in 1824. (But Tenerife has risen 7cm and is apparently smoking! I'm going to Tenerife in May and now I'm super excited!), in contrast, Fuertaventura is probably the island in the Canaries which is safest from seismic activity, with no activity in 5,000 years. Another thing that really excited me was the mention of El Hierro, which is a new forming volcanic island, and was actually the topic of my essay when I studied Advanced Higher Geography!

I got sidetracked. We were told that the minimum temperture recorded in Lanzarote was 1 degrees C, and the highest 48 degrees C, which, sadly, means that there has never been any snow on the island. (I know that given it's location, snow is the last thing to expect, but it's still sad!) Another interesting fact is that Mexico, Texas etc are relatives of the canary islands, and is the reason there's a Rancho Texas on the island.

The next stop after Timanfaya was for a quick wine tasting. I really enjoyed the first wine we tried, but I didn't listen to what it was called, and because I don't speak Spanish, I had no way of knowing how to ask, and I didn't want to ask anybody to translate for me (because I feel guilty when I do that) so even though I wanted to buy a bottle, I just left it, but made up for it by spending some money at the gift shop. (Keep an eye out for that, Saph ;))

After that it was time for a lunch break, where I had a slight panic because I couldn't see any vegetarian options, and decided to rehearse the phrase 'yo soy vegetariano!' in case it was needed, but as I got closer to the front of the queue, I spotted a salad. My saviour! Which was quite good. I bought a few more things from the gift shop (including a literal rock for myself. A rock. I'm such a saddo.) Then back onto the bus we went, en route to Cueva de los Verdes (cave of the greens.) It was a volcanic tunnel. I WAS ABOUT TO GO INTO A VOLCANO. THIS IS THE DREAM.

We walked for about 15 minutes, deep into the tunnel, and in the end we were about 50m underground, and stopped once we came to a concert hall, (Yes, you read that correctly)  which can seat up to 400 people. You might be wondering how you can have a concert hall inside a cave, because what about the echo? There is no echo. It's incredible. We were told the story of the tunnel's use as a place of refuge during the pirate invasions over a century ago, and a sustainable place for refuge due to it's hidden secret located another walk up more stairs.

We left for the room with the hidden secret and we were all told to switch off the light on our phones for a few minutes. I won't say what was in the room to save some spoilers, but I was the one chosen to basically uncover the hidden secret, and to show it to the 79 other people on the excursion. Because I'm special, clearly. Then, as we were heading back through the tunnels on the way to the coach, we passed a mysterious face in the volcano; the 'spirit' of the volcano, which really did look like el Diablo. It's surreal when coincidences like that happen!

Upon emerging back into the real world again, the daylight mildly blinded me for a few minutes as my eyes had adjusted to being inside the darkness. There was only one stop left on the trip, and that was to Los Jameos del Agua, home of a blue lagoon, tiny, albino, blind crabs (like they were maybe 1-2" in length, they were tiny!) and the Casa de Los Volcanes. I kind of didn't pay as much attention as perhaps I should have at the crabs, but there's only so much awe I can hold for them. They were incredible to see, and there were SO MANY of them as well! I found myself heading into the garden instead, taking photos of myself and of my Bill and Ted pop vinyls again, before heading into Casa de Los Volcanes for a little while and getting overly excited once more at all the information available on the study of volcanology, it was bascially a little museum that had been recoginsed by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior!

After that it was pretty much just gift shop, then the coach back to my resort and nothing too interesting to talk about. However, Radmila did recommend the app Cact Lanzarote, which I have been using to add some interesting facts into this blog post!

So, thanks again Radmila for being such a great tour guide! Your passion was infectious, and you're super great at what you do! Please don't stop, and hopefully I bump into you again on another excursion some time in the future!

Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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