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Dream Beaches and Lava Fields

Land of Fire

Spain, Lanzarote

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Lanzarote is, quite literally, the Canary hotspot. Fiery eruptions and lava streams created an island that is quite unique in Europe. Its otherworldly volcanic landscape is one of the most dramatic on the planet.

It’s more of a moonscape really, especially in the southern part of the island. But it’s not boring at all. There are huge rocks and fields of lava, black sand and ash. While black is the dominant colour in many places, it is by far not the only one: many shades of red, green and grey can be seen during a trip through ­Timanfaya National Park.

The earth is still very active around the National Park, as visitors can see and feel in many places. There is a large well-like structure close to the visitor centre. But there is no water in that hole that reaches about 30 feet deep into the earth. Only heat. The chefs prepare chicken and ­potatoes on the grates that cover the hole.

Although an awesome experience for visitors, the lava is a big problem for the farmers and winemakers on this arid island. That’s why they have developed a special way of cultivating the dark ash in ‘La Geria’, the wine area of the island. The producers dig pits and plant single vines in each. The plants are protected with low stone walls that surround each hole in the ground. These fertile mini-craters make great pictures, but are labour intensive, as they can only be tended by hand. And by camel.

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The camels are not only used in the vineyards, they also carry tourists through the scarce landscape of the volcanic hills. But not every visitor likes being carried around – many come to the ‘island of eternal spring’ to run and bike and swim many, many kilometres. Lanzarote hosts an IRONMAN triathlon, and is also considered a perfect training spot, even boasting ‘bike roads’ and at some beaches laps are marked in the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Apart from eye-popping landscapes, triathlon and wine, Lanzarote is well-known for two more things: shopping and surfing. The Canary Islands, much closer to Africa than to Spain, are a tax-free zone which makes shopping much more fun than on the mainland.

Lanzarote is the most unique of the Canary Islands. Volcanic eruptions destroyed fertile land many centuries ago – but they winemakers of ‘La Geria’ have found a way to make tasty vintages.

Lava land. Lanzarote was created 15 million years ago after the African and the American continental plates broke up. The landscapes of the easternmost of the Canary Islands are as dramatic as those of Iceland or Hawaii.

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