Lanzarote’s volcanoes tower over us from the ground, but have you ever imagined what they look like from above? And to turn an already amazing experience into something quite unique, add La Geria’s uniquely beautiful landscape into the mix! The views are stunning and the landscape, breathtaking.
La Geria Natural Park covers 5225 hectares, sitting on the border of Timanfaya National Park. There are a several hiking routes in the region, though I chose this route as it conveniently starts and finishes in the same place: a place that also happens to be a winery, adding an extra incentive to complete the 11.8 km route!
Living in Lanzarote, I know that, whilst the routes are beautiful, they often lack markings, and it can be easy to stray off path. I recently found a useful mobile app (Wikiloc) which has become indispensable for these adventures, as it guides you along your route, sending an alert when you’ve left the path. There are routes from all over the world, so it’s a great companion wherever you go. See this route here.
The La Geria region sits at around 300 m altitude, and the temperature varies considerably throughout the day. It is often cloudy in the morning, but don’t be fooled: the sun usually comes out in force by late morning. Early mornings or later in the afternoon are therefore better times to start walking. Remember that this route takes around four hours, so calculate your start accordingly, to ensure you have enough daylight to complete it.
Whichever time you choose to go, you will need: 1 litre of water per person; good walking shoes or boots, a jacket, a hat and sunscreen; a full mobile phone battery to follow your location and a printed map, just in case. Snacks are also a good idea, for extra energy during your trek.
Start point: La Geria and Rubicón wineries
We parked our car alongside the Ermita de la Caridad, a small chapel standing between Bodega La Geria, on one side, and Bodega Rubicón on the other. It was built during the early 18th century and was covered in ash during the Timanfaya eruptions of 1730-1736, then later restored.
Bodegas Rubicón was built in the 15th century and was the first country house in La Geria. It too was buried in the ash during the Timanfaya eruptions, when it was still used as a residence. It was later recovered and converted into a winery.
The route starts with a short walk (approx. 200 m) along the LZ-30 (turn towards the left as you look at Bodegas Rubicon). Then take the left-hand turn onto a black gravel path, through the grape vines and with the Timanfaya peaks in the distance.
Prior to the 17th century eruptions, La Geria had been a fertile cereal-growing region, but was devastated and covered in lava and ash. The islanders suffered immensely and could grow next to nothing for years.
They slowly discovered a new method of farming amidst the ashes, whilst digging down into the ash in an attempt to reach the soil below. The 18th-century islanders discovered that the picón absorbs overnight humidity and retains the moisture of the underlying soil. Grapes are the main crop grown, but you may also spot other fruit trees such as figs, guava, quince and mulberry.
The region is now a protected landscape and is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Some of the wine produced here has won international awards. Nevertheless, wine production here isn’t profitable and is heavily subsidised, in order to preserve the wine-growing tradition as well as this amazing landscape.
The route turns off to the right, following a track that passes through vines and several picturesque traditional houses. Shortly afterwards you’ll see two unmistakable and very tall palm trees, one of which has lost its leaves.
The track winds around to the left, and then to the right, leading you back towards the main road. Turn right along the main road and walk for around 700 m, cross over and take a left turn up a sandy track (Camino Bilbao).
The route which will eventually pass through two white pillars on the right. It then ascends to Caldera de Gaida, then passes through two mountains, Gaida and Guardilama. A short path leads you around the crater and then to the top of Mount Guardilama. You later return via the same path to continue on this route.
The sight of the crater’s interior came as a complete surprise! It has been carefully cultivated with vines and other crops, and there’s also a little house down there. I must have stopped to take photos a hundred times already, but the views really begin to take your breath away as you get closer to the top. We had chosen quite a windy day for our hike, but strangely enough, the wind stopped as we reached the peak! The topography of the mountain is such that the wind is diverted over the crest, leaving a protected pocket where you can bask in the sunshine and enjoy the views: what a bonus!
If you hadn’t already felt the ‘wow’ factor during your walk, you certainly will now! The panorama that greets you at the top is absolutely magnificent. A 360° rotation reveals the towns of Arrecife, Puerto del Carmen, Tias, Puerto Calero, Playa Quemada, the islands of Lobos and Fuerteventura, Uga and Yaiza, around to the El Golfo coastline and the splendour of La Geria and Timanfaya National Park. Photos can never really do justice to this view, you really have to experience it for yourself.
The sight of La Geria and Rubicon wineries way down below was also proof of how far we’d come.
After enjoying a little rest at the top, we descended back down to the track. It was extremely windy on the way down and loose stones made it slippery underfoot, so extra care is needed here. The route wraps around the back of the crater and descends towards La Asomada, with views towards Playa Quemada. This area is usually full of colourful flowers during the early spring season.
The track turns onto a rustic road which is also part of the GR 131, a 69 km footpath that extends from Órzola to Playa Blanca. Our route diverts towards the right here, along a track that skirts around the base of the crater and then deviates towards the left through some vines. The final stretch takes you past El Chupadero bar and restaurant, until you reach the LZ-30 once again. Take a left turn back towards Bodega La Geria, which by now seems like an oasis in the desert!
I had worked up a thirst after this 11.3 km hike. Despite being tempted to head for the beer, it would be a crime not to savour a glass of crisp local white wine…as the saying goes, “When in Rome…”
Taberna La Cepa is a cosy little tapas bar alongside the winery, and they offer a wide selection of traditional local tapas, including Canarian potatoes with green and red sauces, anchovies, octopus, pork, etc. My favourites, however, are their pinchos, which are chunks of bread with a variety of different toppings. They are beautifully displayed along the bar, and I chose a locally smoked salmon and cream cheese pincho, to accompany my glass of La Geria Malvasía white wine.
If you’ve had enough of the sun you can sit in its shady interior, or admire the stunning landscape from one of its outdoor tables.
Do also take a look around inside the winery. They offer guided tours, or you can just wander around and see their range of white, rosé and red wines for yourself. Why not take home a bottle or too, to enjoy while you reminisce about such an exhilarating Lanzarote outdoor experience.