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5 reasons to go to Lanzarote
28th November 2017
From lunar landscapes to peaceful fishing villages, Lanzarote has plenty to focus your eye and lenses on, says Valda Bailey, as well as excellent wine to wash away memories of Sangria…
1: It’s a hipster destination in the making
The much-maligned ‘Lanzagrotty’ is really anything but that if you look in the right places. The Spanish island’s image is changing rapidly and its popularity is very definitely on the rise.
Certainly the ‘bucket and spade brigade’ can be found in all their sunburnt glory on some of the beaches, but you don’t have to travel far to get the island to yourself. Secret locations can be teased out of the rolling landscape, found in the craggy volcanic mountains and stumbled unexpectedly upon in remote coastal areas.
From the long curving bay of Famara, with its spectacular pink-hued cliffs and windswept surf, to the unique black sand and emerald green lagoon at El Charco de los Clicos, there are unexpected sights at every turn.
Lanzarote is certainly not an obvious destination, but it is full of hidden treasures. Intrepid explorers and creative photographers can thank themselves for seeking it out before it (inevitably) becomes uber-trendy.
2: Be inspired by the work of Cesar Manrique
Lanzarote’s most celebrated artist and architect Cesar Manrique said that “Lanzarote is like an unframed, unmounted work of art. I hung it and held it up for all to see.” How true that is. From the moody brooding sunsets over the Fire Mountains to the delightful 15th century town of Teguise, where colonial mansions line the cobbled streets, one doesn't need to venture very far to understand exactly what he meant.
Manrique’s home and former studios are now open to the public and are fascinating excursions, as is the Jardin Le Cactus that he designed in Guatiza. His work can be seen all over the island; roundabouts are decorated with his giant colourful wind toys, while cultural attractions, such as the Jameos del Agua and Mirador del Rio, fuse art with nature to breathtaking effect.
3: Explore the otherworldly landscapes of Timanfya National Park
Timanfaya is home to the grandiose, multi-coloured Montanas del Fuego (Fire Mountains), understandably the top tourist attraction on the island. The focal point of a vast black landscape is the Islote de Hilario volcano.
There are plenty of photo opportunities to be had while exploring this whole area. It is an extraordinary, lunar landscape, offering incredible views over bizarre geological formations, old lava streams and the few native species that fight to survive here. There are not many other places on Earth where one can experience such a big volcanic area so closely.
4: Enjoying the peace in quiet fishing villages
A million miles away from the purpose-built resorts and untouched by modernity, the quiet, traditional fishing village of Arrieta offers up its own charm. It remains one of the prettiest and most authentic fishing villages still existing in Lanzarote today. It has a beautiful golden, sandy beach, almost a kilometre in length, and retains a quiet, rustic feel. Each morning you can watch the local fisherman unload their catch and be rewarded for your early start with a spectacular sunrise.
Although El Golfo has its share of passing tourists, it is also certainly worth a visit for its unique sunsets and excellent seafood. One can also approach the lava fields at Timanfaya National Park from this location and view the volcanic rock formations and beautifully delicate wild flowers at close quarters.
5: Fine wine to make Sangria a distant memory
Sangria remains, to me, every bit as undrinkable as it was 30 years ago. The local wine in Lanzarote, however, is an unexpected joy and very reasonably priced. The majority of Lanzarote’s wine producers can be found in the centre of the island, around La Geria. El Grifo is one of the oldest wine producers in Spain, original founded in 1775, with a museum in its old wine cellar.
Prices are also usually very reasonable in the island’s restaurants. As in the rest of Spain, the locals take their nourishment extremely seriously and embrace the rich, natural ingredients that the island produces. From mouth-watering seafood caught fresh each day to the tasty vegetables grown in the rich black volcanic soil, the food here is unpretentious and very tasty indeed.
Valda Bailey will be guiding a photography tour in Lanzarote from March 19-23, 2018. See www.lightandland.co.uk/photography-tours/view/lanzarote for details.
Valda will also be leading photography tours to Bath, London, Burgundy, the Cairngorms and Northumberland in 2018. For info, see www.lightandland.co.uk/valda-bailey.