In September 1730 a first volcanic eruption shook the island of Lanzarote in what would become one of the longest outbreaks documented in history. In almost six years 13 villages were swallowed by lavas and ashes which finally covered an area of nearly 200 square kilometres. During this time numerous volcanoes with even more craters were created, leaving the area a veritable moonscape. During these six years nowhere was volcanic activity more firce than near the centre of the outbreak, between what is now Montaña el Señalo and Pico Partido.
While most volcanoes on Lantarote are off limits due to protectiion by either the Timanfaya National Park or the Parque Natural Los Volcanes there is the option to explore the latter by strictly keeping to established trails. One of these leads around the epicentre of the eruptions, around Pico Partido. It is a short 2-3h hike which, however, offers close-up insights into the younger volcanic history of the island.
Pico Partido is a volcano with three craters. Its summit crater is the smallest one, located in the south of the mountain. Then there are two large secondary craters, one in the north and one in the east of the volcano. Both of the latter craters are famous for their lava tunnels. The north-crater tunnel is closed with only a short open section, which never was closed, even during the eruptions. The east crater, however, displays a long system of tunnels, most of which have caved in during the last three hundred years. It is here that the most bizarre and colourful landscape can be found.
Pico Partido is visible from almost everywhere, perhaps a bit overshadowed by its higher neighbour Montaña el Señalo. Still the volcano offers wonterful views towards the volcanoes of both the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya as well es the Parque Natural de los Volcanes. The most impressive vista can be found towards the east, where dozens of volcanoes align in the near and middle distance.
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.
The best trailhead for Pico Partido is between the National Park's headuarters and its boundaries, right beneath Montaña Tingafa. However, you can only find places for about five cars there. Instead you can use the parking lot at the headquarters, which adds about 2km to your route.
- 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.
- Drive through Mancha Blanca switching to LZ67.
- After about 1km you'll reach the National Park's headquarters (right hand side. Park either there or after another kilometre underneath the cinder cone of Montaña Tingafa.
Due to red tape there is only one route to Pico Partido, which unfortunately leaves out the summit. You reach a spot less than 30m beneath the summit, which itself is off limits.
The route starts on LZ67, the road through Timanfaya National Park, at the base of Montaña Tingafa. Cross the road and look for a path, which negotiates the wilf lava field to the side of the road. After a while you reach a basin, filled with cinder where you have to decide on clockwise or anticlockwise direction.
Deciding on clockwise, follow the path, which heads for the shoulder between Pico Partido and Montaña el Señalo, keeping the large cinder crater of Montaña de los Miradores on your right hand side. The path runs through cinder fields until you reach the saddle between the volcanoes. Here turn left into a steep cinder couloir which heads for another saddle on Pico Partido's south-eastern shoulder. Again turn left heading directly for the summit. The path, however turns right (out of the little crater you're in) onto the east slopes of the volcano. Here a wonderful view opens across all the volcanoes to the east.
Follow the path across the slope and around the summit until you reach Pico Partido's north crater. The path turns right staying on the rim of the crater but later heading onto a cinder shelf high above it. Here, turn sharply to the south-east, following the line which a long lava tunnel indicates. In some sections the roof of the tunnel has caved in, offering impressive views in its chaotic inner life.
Climbing a few steps you can reach the top of Pico Partido's east crater, again with wonderful views into its inside. The actual path, however, passes the crater on its eastern side before returning to its inside. Finally it heads to the outside again, passing the crater to its north now and heading through a field of broken lava towards the outflow of the north crater. Here again you'll find a lava tunnel heading northwards. Follow the tunnel along the path until you reach the junction and completing the circle. Head back northwards towards Montaña Tingafa.
Duration: some three hours
Pico Partido belongs to the Parque Natural Los Volcanes. You are not allowed to leave the trails due to the fragile landscape made up from volcanic cinders. The route around Pico Partido does not touch the Timanfaya National Park. However, there are signboards claiming just that and warning against proceding. Stay on the trail and you are safe to explore the volcano.
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.