Backroading Over Volcanoes In Lanzarote

January 4th, 2001

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Click on any picture below to view it in the window on the right

Up to this point, we had been exploring the island via main roads in our trusty rental Suzuki. Easy ride. On this day, we decided to do something a little different: Go off-road and drive around and over volcanoes

We wound up making friends with a nice French couple and a few dromedaries and having one of the hairiest rides of our lives

Welcome to our journey around and over Montaña de la Breña Estesa, Lomo Blanco, Hacha Grande and Barranco Parrado. Click here for a map of the area

One thing to keep in mind while perusing these photos is that every rise and mountain that you see is a volcano. This tiny island is home to more than 100 of them. These pictures are just from the southeastern end of the island
...not camels
Dromedaries, just north of Papagayo

Our 4-wheel drive Suzuki dromedary

We are heading for the other side of those volcanoes

Fuerteventura, the island to the southwest of Lanzarote. We started this trip at the very southern end of Lanzarote by Papagayo

And ran into these guys

A dromedary is possibly one of the most docile animals on the planet, but, not very talkative. And don't call them camels. They won't know what you're talking about

I had never been this up close and personal with a dromedary in the middle of a desert on a volcanic island off the coast of Africa before

I was enjoying our encounter, but, she still didn't want to talk. Never try to engage a dromedary when it has a mouth full of lichen

Ulla, on the other hand, had no trouble talking to our new friend. They bonded immediately

Neither of us spoke the language the herder spoke. He turned out to be from north Africa. Here he is describing by drawing in the dirt how old each dromedary is. This dromedary seems to have heard this before

Lichen is one of the few things that grows out here, and is the mainstay of a dromedary's diet

Dromedaries behind us, now all we have to do is get up, over, and around those volcanoes

Looked easy on the map

It was anything but. It was at this point that we began to think about whether or not this was a good idea. We finished that thought later: It was a good idea

There was a little peril involved and many rewarding sights before we came to that somewhat mutual conclusion


There was a family of four following us in a tiny car. We had already overcome some difficulties with driving our capable vehicle over some very rough terrain. They did the smart thing for them and turned back. We kept going

We had no idea at this point that this drive would get even more difficult

Lanzarote is a Spanish territory. This road would be off limits in the US

That reasoning being that the people who might drive off this road, and find themsleves upsidedown under a crushed car might sue someone else for their own negligence. Not in Lanzarote. You screw up, it's your fault, and that's the way it should be


...and it's not so hard to drive over the edge. I've driven through the Rocky Mountains in the US and at least there were pine trees, guardrails and elevation signs

But Lanzarote is a volcanic miasma. Driving around eons of geological history here is well worth the difficulties

While I understand the agendas of the Europeans that come here just to lay by a pool and soak up sun, that was not our agenda. We wanted to find out everything we could about this fascinating place, photograph it, and share what we found with the rest of the world

Looking back now, it seems that we were on a bit of a mission. One that found us driving over volcanoes on what was sometimes little more than a goat path

Onward and upward we pressed, over lava flows, dry river beds, rocks, and other things you wouldn't drive your own car over or through (We actually treated that Suzuki very well, and it returned the favor)


Tricky driving situations started popping up with frightening regularity

We were past the point of no return. To turn around and drive back would have been much more difficult than continuing on. We'd been back there, and I didn't think the road could get much worse

I was wrong. I had still not considered using 4-wheel drive at this point. In hindsight, I should have, but, we really didn't know what lay ahead

Ulla was now wishing very much that she was safely back in Playa Blanca laying by the pool, soaking up sun, and chatting with her fellow Europeans

She was about ready to walk back. I convinced her that it was safer to keep going, rather than drive back down headfirst where we'd been. She agreed and we kept going

And I couldn't blame her for being a bit scared. What you don't see in these pictures is the steepness of the road. You accelerate to climb a steep grade, then, with your wheels spinning and dust flying all over the place, you are hit with a sharp bend with very little road to look forward to

Being the passenger in a dusty car bouncing up and down over a precarious road while traveling around volcanoes is probably not the first thing Ulla had in mind when we decided to vacation in Lanzarote

Decision point here: Do we go around the volcano by going right, or over it by going straight? We went straight and found a dead end on the side of the volcano

We turned around, came back down, and took the right turn

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