“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
That was me, when I landed on the moon on April 4, 2017. Except the moon happened to be on some far off island near Africa this time. And it also had a completely different name.
Montanas del Fuego it read. Translated as ‘The Fire Mountains’.
I was at the Timanfaya National Park, situated in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. (I soon realized it wasn’t moon!)
The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, consisting of seven main islands. Although the islands are an autonomous community under Spain, the nearest mainland from here is actually Africa.
And I was traveling one of its seven islands, Lanzarote – mainly because of Timanfaya National Park and its moonlike landscapes.
The Timanfaya National Park is a protected area, surrounded by volcanoes and still covered with lava. The volcanic landscape of Timanfaya was created by the eruptions that took place between 1730 and 1736, with more than 100 volcanoes erupting in just a span of six years.
Untouched and unaltered, the moonlike landscape in Timanfaya is utterly spectacular and surreal. Filled with volcanic lava, black rocks, rust sands and craters, you can see why Timanfaya was used by NASA for training its astronauts for their Apollo 17 expedition.
To preserve its landscapes, it is not permitted to wander freely around the National Park. And after one point, only the guided coach trips are allowed in the National Park.
And if you also happen to be fond of camels, you can take a short camel ride in one of the volcanic slopes.
I was on a tight budget, so I just took some pictures of the camels – with ‘some pictures’ here ranging anything from 10 to 200!
As you move towards the top, you see several craters, lava, steep slopes and deserted land. I remember seeing one huge crater which took me straight back to my second standard science chapter on Moon, where I knew about the craters for the first time.
Also, it was nice knowing not all extra-terrestrial stuffs in the text books are conspiracies. (Never-mind on this one!)
But the peak point was yet to come.
When you reach the vantage point, you can get the best view of ‘The Fire Mountains’.
Staring at The Fire Mountains, I was awestruck by the wrath of mother nature – its ability to annihilate something completely, and ingenuity to create something other-worldly.
All you can see from there is a vast cloud of rocks, sand and the fire mountains, and no animals, plants or trees – practically no signs of natural life.
At the top, there is also a restaurant called El Diablo (translated as the devil), where the food is cooked by the heat of the volcano. Food is a bit pricey, but it’s not often you get to eat food cooked over the heat of the volcano.
And this is also the point from which only the guided coach trip is permitted.
My return journey from the top was filled with contradictory yet captivating feelings.
Timanfaya is more breathtaking than beautiful, more surreal than aesthetic. You feel amazing seeing something absurdly astounding, and yet you feel a tinge of sadness knowing it is rare to experience something so surreal again.
Timanfaya is devastating wrath of nature painted in the striking canvas of colors – red, brown, black and grey, all at once. Timanfaya is simply unlike any other places on earth.
Lanzarote has tons of other places to see (other than Timanfaya).
From its green lake to its beautiful white and golden sand beaches; from hiking in the hills to surfing in the sea – you can see and do a wide range of activities in Lanzarote. Timanfaya is just from my one day in Lanzarote and I was there for almost a week. So I will write a separate blog about Lanzarote in detail.
Today I just wanted to write about Timanfaya and relive my one surreal experience.
Or if you let me indulge, my once in a lifetime moon landing experience! Few seconds of my life when I got into that astronaut mode (that line at the top is Neil Armstrong btw!).
Time to get back into reality again.
“So Goodbye Houston”
“Over and out.”