Lanzarote's volcanos are low but nonetheless very impressive and attractive. Most of them will be found among the Montañas del Fuego, the fire mountains, which cover roughly an area of 200 square kilometres in the north-west of the island. Much of the area has been set aside as Timanfaya National Park, which is surrounded by the less restrictive Los Volcanes Natural Park. The volcanoes were formmed during an eruption which took almost six years from 1730 through 1736. Both the first and last volcanoes to erupt can be found very close together with a common trailhead just beside the LZ56 regional road: Montaña del Cuervo and Caldera Colorada. Neither of them were included in the national park and thus can be visited with few restrictions.
During my first visit to Lanzarote, Montaña del Cuervo, also known as Montaña de las Lapas was still available to be climbed. The real summit to the south was off limit but there was a trail to the eastern summit. The trail still exists (as do two other footpaths) but signboards tell you that the cinder slopes of the crater are off limits today. Instead a hiking path has been created, which circles the crater and even leads inside from its opening to the north.
Montaña del Cuervo is an uncommon type of volcano on Lanzarote. usually, large cinder cones are thrown up and if there is an opening it was created by the wind direction during the eruption. All the cinder was thrown to the lee side of the crater. Here, with Montaña del Cuervo things lie different. The crater was almost perfectly circular but established a crater lake on the inside. With the rising lava levels pressure rose and finally resulted in the northern part of the calderaa to break and the lava being washed out across the plain to the north. Even today, huge rocks which formed the northern crater rim can be found outside the caldera, having been flooded out for hundreds of metres by the lava wave.
On the other hand since then Montaña del Cuervo has turned into a perfectly normal cinder cone. Huge slopes of black lava cover three quarters of the caldera and there are few lifeforms in the area. A geranium type flower occasionally blooms among the cinder but this is all that is obvious. Only a close-up view wil reveal that many kinds of lichen grow on the rocks and they are a main reason for the climbing restriction on this mountain. A lichen cover is easily broken but takes decades to re-form. And anywhere among the Montañas del Fuego measures are taken to protect this fragile Flora.
Though there are ferries from the Spanish mainland to the Canary Islands, they take more than 24h for the trip. Therefore most visitors therefore go by plane. Every travel agency in Europe offers flights, hotel rooms, apartments, rental cars etc. so that reaching the Canaries is rather a matter of money than opportunity. During the summer season flight fares can be reasonable but during the Easter and Christmas holidays you have to be prepared for additional fees of 500€ per person.
Lanzarote has its own airport between the capital Arrecife and one of the main tourist centres, Puerto del Carmen. There are public bus lines but – like on all the islands – they don't run too regularly. If you plan to stay on your own, better take a rental car right at the airport.
There trailhead, is very close to the crater,on LZ-57 between La Geria and Tinguatón. You can reach the trailhead as follows:
- From Arrecife follow LZ20 through San Bartolomé.
- At the Monumento del Campesino turn onto LZ30 west.
- Drive through Masdache and at the intersection with LZ56 turn northward in direction Tinajo.
- The trailhead is on the left hand (western) side at a parking lot north of Montaña del Cuervo.
- An additional parking lot can be found on the other side of the road beneath Montaña Negra
As mentioned in the overview section, Montaña del Cuervo may not be climbed anymore. There is a marked hiking trail circling the crater and leading inside of it from the northern side. The old ascent routes are still visible (and will be for the following decades). There is a kind of "ledge" trail, heading to the eastern highpoint from the eastern side. It makes use of some solid rocks, which have formed on this eastern part of the crater but is neccessarily a cinder path.
There is a second footpath from the south to the summit of the crater and one path which leads from the opening to the north south-east to the east summit. All have been closed to preserve the fragile cinder slopes and are occasionally patrolled by rangers. The proximity of the road LZ56 ensures rather close surveillance.
As mentioned above, the summit of Montaña del Cuervo has been closed to hikers to preserve the cinder cone. The crater is part of the Parque Natural Los Volcanes which does not have severe restrictions but for this crater. Do not head out into the lava fields from Montaña del Cuervo. The lava is sharp edged and brittle and you can quickly break through up to your thighs. It happened to me once and is was very hard to extract myself from this trap.
AccommodationFor holiday homes, hotels or apartments either consult your nearest travel office, or – search for lodgings on Google. There are several sites on the web, dedicated to rent privately owned houses or apartments. Prices are generally a bit less expensive than for tour operators but you don't have as much security.
Lanzarote is usually swept by fierce north-western trade winds. Though they deposit their humidity on almost all of the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote is simply too low to form a decent obstacle. Therefore the climate is very arid.
For some time of the year, eastern winds prevail, which almost always carry clouds of Sahara dust with them. Usually this means reduced visibility but in some occasions "Calima" occurs. Fierce storms take up the dust from the Sahara and sweep it across the islands. In these times visibility is nil and sometimes even the planes are grounded.
Maps & Books
Kompass Map WK241
Kompass is the only company known to me which offers GPS digital Maps. In addition for those of you with Garmin GPS receivers there is a map source map set of all Canary islands out there.
Inselkarte (Island Map)
Downlaoadable at www.wanderreitkarte.de
My recommendation is a guidebook by Rother Verlag, available in German. The book is an excellent hiking guide covering all the interesting areas of the island. Since it comes with small maps for each excursion it might even be used without a map to support them.