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Exploring Lanzarote’s volcanoes

The most easterly of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is known for its spectacular landscape, much of which was formed during six years of volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736.

Fortunately, no lives were lost but 26 villages were completely buried and all the arable farmland was destroyed, and all that was left were craggy rock faces and lunar-style craters.

Today, there are pretty villages dotted between ancient volcanic cones, and many once-barren valleys are covered in lush vegetation. The volcanoes are now mostly dormant but spectacular and stunning scenery remains and there's still plenty of heat burning away just beneath the surface. We take a look at some of the fascinating facts about the island's volcanoes and some of the volcanic highlights you can visit.

Imagine yourself on a sci-fi film set at a green lagoon

The oddly alien look of solidified lava flows and craggy, pitted rocks has attracted several film crews over the years.

Sci-fi classics such as When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and Doctor Who have featured Lanzarote as the backdrop to their fantastical stories. So you can walk in the footsteps of the Doctor, and who knows, you might spot the blue phone-box tardis in the distance.

You can also visit the eerie looking El Gofo Lagoon which lies on the west coast of the island. Backed by rugged red cliffs the water is a luminous green, which gives the whole area a thoroughly otherworldly atmosphere.

Take a tour around the stunning Los Jameos del Agua caves

Los Jameos del Agua caves were created 4,000 years ago when the Monto Corona volcano erupted. The caves were once liquid lava tubes which stretched for 1,500 metres but now they're the largest underwater volcanic tunnels in the world, ending beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

The acoustics in the caves were so good that in 1987 architect Cesar Manrique turned the space into a 600-seat auditorium.

The venue hosts live classical music events as well as the Visual Music Festival of Lanzarote. There are also tours available of the extensive cave network so you can experience the full majesty of these amazing structures.

Experience live volcanic heat at Timanfaya National Park

Sitting within Timanfaya National Park, Timanfaya volcano is a still active region of lava fields with a visitor centre where you can discover more about volcanoes and how they've affected the land and people of Lanzarote.

The whole park is a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve due to its unique make-up of volcanic soils and temperature variations which can reach 600°C a mere 10 metres beneath the surface.

This is a fantastic place to explore on mountain bikes and buggy tours, or you can take things slow with a hike or camel ride, pausing to take in the views. Also, if you've never had a volcano-cooked meal before you can sample this novel delight at The El Diablo restaurant which sits within the park.

Discover the plants, wildlife and huge potatoes

The climate in Lanzarote is arid with very little rain so there are very few mammals on the island.

However, you can spot over 500 species of plants and numerous species of birds and reptiles such as lizards. And a visit to Lanzarote's Cactus Garden – which is shaped like an amphitheatre – showcases over 10,000 cactus plants.

Inland you'll see fields of extra large potatoes, tropical fruits, grape vines and onions, which grow in abundance despite the island's extremely dry weather. In fact, Lanzarote grows one third of Spain's annual onion crop.

Interestingly this is due to the same volcanoes that reduced the land to ashes. Volcanic 'picon' rocks draw in moisture from the air and keep the soil moist, perfect for plant growth without the need for rain.

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