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Explore Volcanoes in Spain’s Canary Islands

by Barbara Rogers

Feb 21, 2024

© Henner Damke | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

More than 1,000 miles from Spain’s capital city of Madrid, the seven Canary Islands are also part of Spain. They are the tallest peaks of ancient volcanoes rising out of the Atlantic, not far from the coast of North Africa. Two of these volcanoes, both still active, offer exciting adventures for families traveling to the islands.

 

The tallest is Teide, on the island of Tenerife and the highest point in Spain with its snow-capped cone rising to more than 12,000 feet altitude. Beside the simmering cone lies a deep crater, as wide as 12 miles in places and enclosed by a steep rim. You can drive or hike across the crater floor to see dramatic rock formations in a rainbow of colors, and plants that grow nowhere but in this unique ecosystem.

 

To see the rock formations up close, follow one of the trails shown on the park map. The trail circling the Roques de Garcia passes several different kinds of lava, some in twisted cable-like formations, and a rock dome more than 300 feet tall. Elsewhere a dome forms an arch known as Zapatilla de Reiña, the Queen’s Slipper. A cable car takes you to Teide’s peak for views overlooking the crater, its rim, and the sea and mountains beyond.

 

An even more dramatic volcano experience awaits your family on the island of Lanzarote, a short plane ride away. Here, the volcanic activity was much more recent, only three centuries ago, the eruption covered almost the whole island in lava, and engulfed farms, vineyards and entire towns. Today, vast areas are covered in solidified lava in fantastic twisted and swirled shapes. These often hide long tunnels and caves underneath, formed as the surface of flowing lava cooled before the molten flow below, leaving giant underground bubbles you can explore with a guide.

 

Amid this lunar-like volcanic landscape rises the cone of Timanfaya, still a very active volcano. Although its molten core is active, Timanfaya is safe to ascend, and at the top you can watch demonstrations proving its heat, as a pile of brush thrown on a thin spot of ground burst into flame, and the pressure of water boiling beneath the surface creates a geyser. Even more dramatic is the open barbecue pit, where chicken is grilled over the direct heat from the simmering volcano below. That’s a lunch your kids won’t forget.

 

 

 

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