The landscapes of the Canary Islands have a fascinating geography as a result of the volcanoes. Far from clichés, admiring the traces of the terrestrial fury offers a destination, a panoramic viewpoint or a path for all tastes.
La Palma, younger than ever
The recent eruption of Cumbre Vieja has rejuvenated the palm silhouette, but until we can step on its lava it is time to get to know one of its youngest landscapes, those of the southern tip of the island. Until now, the last eruption there had been that of Teneguía (1971). Peering into its perfectly round crater is one of the most captivating tourist attractions. The ease of ascending to its crater, as well as traveling the last section of the Volcano Route, as it passes through the San Antonio volcano, or descending to the Fuencaliente salt flats, are essential steps along the southern end of La Palma.
In addition to walking through the crater of the San Antonio volcano, it is highly recommended to visit the visitor center. Along the way we will be able to experiment with an earthquake simulator and we will see an astronomical observer, one of many located in the best island enclaves to observe starry skies thanks to the remarkable environmental characteristics of the local atmosphere, without turbulence and stabilized by the ocean.
Do not miss. One should not leave the steepest island in the world without contemplating the vertigo of the ravines of the enormous 8-kilometre crater of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. Or climb to the highest point on the island, the 2,426-meter Roque de los Muchachos, and enjoy one of the best sky viewpoints in the world, where the Roque de los Muchachos Astronomical Observatory Visitor Center has just been inaugurated.
Tenerife, the fairy chimneys
Among the magical corners that each island hides, Tenerife boasts a fantasy landscape thanks to the volcanic rocks in which erosion has created extraordinary shapes. To the south of the island, in the municipality of Vilaflor de Chasna, the rocks and volcanic chimneys have come into view to the final surprise of a signposted path PR-TF 72. Between remarkable examples of Canarian pine trees it leads to a whitish rock, the stone Pumice -trace of violent and explosive eruptions- which, together with volcanic ashes arranged in layers, like a cake, have a rainbow of shades that change with solar incidence. Erosion on its delicate texture has created fairy chimneys, formations that hold harder rocks at the end of long pinnacles in a fragile balance. The result is a unique panorama of stone waves and rock pinnacles that looks like another planet.
Do not miss. From Vilaflor you can access the volcanic star of the island, the Teide National Park, through the Cortada del Diablo, which gives way to the Llanos de Ucanca, a vast panorama of volcanic caldera in which the conical summit of Teide stands out.
Fuerteventura, the oldest volcanic rocks
Ajuy beach is a perfect destination to spend a day swimming on its black volcanic sand. However, marine erosion has exposed some striking Ivorian cliffs to the north. They are sediments raised from the continental shelf with archaic lavas that intermingle in different volcanic emissions with fossil sands. Extensive yellowish or caliche calcareous crusts have been deposited on them, formerly extracted for lime kilns, whose stone chimneys can be seen along the path among fossilized molluscs. A low-difficulty path leads to the shelter and coastal caves of Puerto de la Peña, where the conquerors landed, the lime was shipped and the local fishing boats continue to take refuge from the rough Atlantic waves.
Do not miss. Go to the center of the island where the Morro Velosa mountain rises, which, in addition to being the geographical center of the island, is an exceptional observatory of the plain dotted with volcanoes from the center and north of the island. Next to the building designed by César Manrique, the viewpoint offers an immense perspective for a while.
Lanzarote, the art of living from lava
The northernmost island is one of the main volcanic tourist destinations in the world, as its geography is marked in such a beautiful and unique way by its eruptions. The forms of life as well as the human uses of the territory have had to adapt to the aridity of its landscape. Thus, after the eruptions, water conservation became the cornerstone of cultivation. Small cavities excavated in the lava or souks, resembling tiny craters, house a vine plant, predominantly of the malvasia variety, giving rise to the agricultural landscape of La Geria. A region where the vineyards are worked with care with a privileged wine tourism consideration for the wines born from the volcano.
Do not miss. Most of Lanzarote’s volcanic footprint corresponds to the 18th century. As a result, 40% of its territory is protected in thirteen natural spaces. When ascending the Risco de Famara, there is an exceptional panoramic view from the Mirador del Río and over one of the most remote geological substrata. It corresponds to the first submarine volcanic eruptions that originated the island.
El Hierro, the last volcanic silhouette of the continent
The island that was the limit of the Old World and that sailors looked to take the last view of its rugged volcanic profile is the most distant and remote Canary Island. Expect colorful lavas, badlands and mineral flows in spectacular ways, as in the Lajiares. Of its inactive calderas, the most spectacular is that of the El Golfo valley, enclosed by a 700-meter wall in the shape of a half crater, while the other half succumbed under the Atlantic waters.
Do not miss. Follow one of the transhumant paths traditionally used by the people of El Hierro to take advantage of the scarce agricultural land. In the ‘muda’ between the highlands of the interior and the coast, the Camino de la Peña was followed, which descends to El Golfo along one of the most outstanding paths, from the hermitage of the Virgen de la Peña towards the Roques de Salmor.
Gran Canaria, the Spanish Grand Canyon
The island’s Grand Canyon is the La Aldea ravine, an infinity of mountainous alignments of successive eruptions that time has shaped like blades to the sky. Going up between its cliffs you reach Artenara, a town between the highlands of the island next to the Guayadeque ravine. It is one of those that has best preserved its cave houses or the island complicity of living in the volcanoes. From the Mirador de la Cilla you can see the volcanic caldera of Tejeda -another town of interest- and the sacred Roque Bentayga, a place of worship or almoragen, from the first aboriginal settlements.
Do not miss. From the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda you can see the landscape of Los Roques, El Nublo or El Bentayga. The first is reached by a steep but short path, spectacular.