When you think of Lanzarote, what springs to mind? My guess is probably warm sunny weather, gorgeous golden sandy beaches, and beautiful blue waters lapping at the shore. In other words, the perfect escape from dull rainy days back home, and absolutely great for visitors craving some sun. For those of you that have enjoyed a beach holiday in Lanzarote, you will undoubtedly know that the island's spectacular volcanic landscape is also a fascinating place to see. There are other hidden parts of Lanzarote that are well worth exploring though, and you will be surprised by the unexpected natural beauty. I know I have been!
Although much of Lanzarote is dry due to its volcanic geology, there are parts of the island that are astonishingly green and verdant. These areas prove once again how much contrast exists on these fascinating islands. I discovered this last December when I went on a hiking excursion with the brilliant Lanzarote Active Club, who offer alternative types of trip away from the main tourist routes. I love almost all of the attractions that Lanzarote has to offer, and of course the outstanding beaches, but it is also great to go off the beaten track, and experience more remote places.
As is the case with many of the excursions that Lanzarote Active Club run, we were a small group, all enthusiastic about hiking in the fresh air and eager to see some amazing sights. We would definitely not be disappointed! Despite it being the middle of December, most of us were wearing shorts, t-shirts and light jackets. It was early morning and despite a strong breeze the temperature was perfect. The sun was beaming down, and the sky a bright, brilliant blue. We were collected by the company in four-wheel drive vehicles which added to the sense of adventure, and driven to Famara in the north west of the island, where our exploration began.
If you've never been to Famara then next time you visit Lanzarote it is an absolute must see. There is a long looping sandy beach which is picturesque in itself, but the true marvel of Famara comes from the stunning cliff backdrop which offer such a huge contrast to the beach. It is a truly majestic location, offering a very different experience from the more popular beaches on the island's south coast. Our journey that day was set to involve hiking up over those cliffs to the highest peak of Lanzarote, Peñas del Chache, that stands at an impressive 671 metres tall! The hike looked daunting, but we were all well prepared and ready for the challenge. Besides, our guides had done this many times, and knew the most accessible route to the top.
As we left the beach, sand dunes and vehicles behind, we headed up a gravel pathway, and passed an isolated house on the way which had been interestingly named "Pequeña Australia". Having been to Australia in the past and absolutely loved it there, this name is rather fitting as the view across Famara beach out to the ocean has a very similar look and beauty to that found in the land Down Under. From the beginning of our adventure the views were stunning, and were set to get even better.
Soon after passing the house, the path switched to a fairly steep rocky climb. Despite living on the island and having holidayed here several times, I had no idea about this route. It was a real revelation. If you love being in the outdoors, and exploring then Lanzarote is definitely the destination for you. Despite it's small size, there are so many interesting outdoors activities available, such as these walking tours. As mentioned before, much of Lanzarote's appearance is arid, but some parts are surprisingly green, especially in the winter and spring months. Climbing up these hills was like entering another country, as it was full of wild plant life!
While this climb was certainly not just a stroll in the park, it offered a great workout, and was certainly not difficult. We climbed at a steady pace up the winding pathway, stopping at different sections including a break for lunch, at a sheltered area away from the wind, bathed in sunlight. As we ate we were able to gaze out at majestic rolling green hills that had the appearance of green waves. It was so peaceful and calm, and a beautiful location for lunch.
After a couple of hours of climbing (including our breaks), we reached the Peñas del Chache, and could now say we had been to the highest peak in Lanzarote. It felt like a real achievement, especially with the strong breeze. Our reward was a breathtaking view! Lanzarote has so many incredible sights, and this is definitely one of the best I have seen. Despite the gusty wind, I had to experience that awesome feeling of standing on the edge, with my arms outstretched, while taking in those views. It was definitely one of those wow moments in life, that really make you feel alive! From the top you can look down at beautiful Famara beach, the tiny traditional fishing village of Caleta de Famara, and further across the island's landscape to the volcanoes of the south.
Further along the cliff edge you get an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean, where you can take in the full panorama of the blue horizon, where the sea meets the sky. I truly believe that these kind of experiences are perfect for clearing your mind of any worries and refreshing your soul, through this connection with nature. You can also gaze across to the neighboring island of La Graciosa and the smaller islets of Montaña Clara and Alegranza. A spectacle well worth the climb!
As the excursion continued we descended back down the other side of Peñas del Chache. It was almost difficult to believe that we were in Lanzarote still as there was a small forest of trees, and not just of the palm tree variety! We were told by our guides that this forest had previously been much bigger, but in the past many of these magnificent trees had been chopped down for their wood. Now though, the forest is being allowed to grow again so hopefully in the future it can return to its full grandeur. It was still impressive none the less, and totally unexpected.
Finally from the forest we headed through meadows of long green grass. We had arrived in the fertile "Valley of a Thousand Palms" one of the most beautiful and picturesque locations in Lanzarote. Here there is the lovely town of Haría, a place I would definitely recommend for a chance to see Lanzarote's more traditional architecture. We arrived in the town by about 3pm where our transport awaited. While our adventure had come to an end the amazing memories have long remained. I'm ready for the next climb!