Wild Junket » Lanzarote http://www.wildjunket.com An adventure travel blog that brings you on a rollercoaster ride around the world Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:30:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 World’s Most Unearthly Landscapes http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/09/05/worlds-most-unearthly-landscapes/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/09/05/worlds-most-unearthly-landscapes/#comments Mon, 05 Sep 2011 15:58:14 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=7146 Eerie, dramatic and enigmatic: certain landscapes on Earth can be so unworldly, they’re reminscent of scenes from outer space. Many of these hotspots have been sculpted by the hands of Mother Nature, moulded into intriguing destinations that have captivated the imagination of modern-day travelers. While space travel still seems to be a far stretch for [...]

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Eerie, dramatic and enigmatic: certain landscapes on Earth can be so unworldly, they’re reminscent of scenes from outer space. Many of these hotspots have been sculpted by the hands of Mother Nature, moulded into intriguing destinations that have captivated the imagination of modern-day travelers. While space travel still seems to be a far stretch for average travelers, why not check out these mind-blowing outer space destinations for now.

Cappadocia, Turkey

An expanse of sandy brown plateau topped by cascading cliffs, Cappadocia in Central Turkey features whimsical fairy chimneys, bizarre cave churches and maze-like underground cities. There are various ways to see it: on a hot-air balloon, on a jeep or by foot (the area has excellent hiking trails and open-air museums). Although its extraordinary landscape is now dominated by lavish cave hotels and restaurants, it remains a rather unique yet accessible place to visit. 

Click for more of my Cappadocia photos.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Spanning across an area of 13,000 square kilometres, the dazzlingly white Uyuni Salt Flats resemble landscapes from the Moon. The shimmering salt fields are so clear they reflect the sky in perfect symmetry. In the immensity of the desert, it’s easy to fantasize about space travel, or even aspire to visit the Moon someday.

Click for more of my Salar de Uyuni photos.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Affectionately known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is a rose-red desert, sprinkled with jagged peaks in Southern Jordan. As the backdrop of various epic films, the desert has long drawn on the imagination of curious travelers. Camping in the Wadi Rum desert is definitely an amazing experience – picture sliding down sand dunes, watching sunset over the cliffs then sleeping under the stars by night.

 Click for more of my Wadi Rum photos

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

A volcanic island by nature, Lanzarote features bizarre lunar landscapes dotted with lime-green lagoons, craggy underground volcanic tunnels and massive fields of tar-like volcanic ashes (as a result of previous eruptions). It’s a place unlike no other, and you’d least expect to see such extraordinary terrain on a holidaymaker’s playground. Here, you’ll also see contemporary art weaved magically into nature – a result of Cesar Manrique’s contribution.

 Click for more of my Lanzarote photos

Tsingy de Bemahara, Madagascar

Climb above the canopies and sharp rock cliffs of the Tsingy de Bemahara in Western Madagascar and enter the world of outer space as imagined by the Flintstones. Tsingy forests feature sharp, grey rock karsts that poke vertically into the skies; some growing as tall as 200m. Formed millions of years ago by tectonic plate movements, these rock karsts were believed to form the ocean bed. In the Tsingy de Bemahara, harnessed climbing is only possible with a local guide.

Click for more of my Tsingy de Bemahara photos.

White Desert, Egypt

Get spooked by the vast whiteness of the Sahara el Beyda, where oddly-shaped chalk rock formations are strewn randomly throughout the desert amidst brown sand. Found in the Farafra Depression in Western Egypt, this desert is blanketed in a off-white, cream color, thanks to the result of occasional sandstone in the area. Camp out in the White Desert under the stars, sipping tea while listening to Bedouin tales – the magical setting will stir your imagination.

 Click for more of my White Desert photos

Socotra Island, Yemen

As one of the most isolated islands in the world, Socotra is rightfully home to some peculiar lifeforms and habitats. A combination of the long geological isolation of the Socotra archipelago and its fierce heat and drought have created a unique and spectacular endemic flora. Over a third of the lifeform found here are exclusive to the island, including the striking dragon’s blood tree – an obscure umbrella-shaped tree with red sap.

Photo by Boris Khvostichenko from Wikipedia Creative Commons.

Been to any other unworldy sites? Charm us with more space-like destinations!

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Daily Travel Snapshot: Lanzarote, Spain http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/07/04/daily-travel-snapshot-lanzarote-spain/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/07/04/daily-travel-snapshot-lanzarote-spain/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2011 01:30:23 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=6606 Giant cacti amidst the deserts of Lanzarote island, Spain.

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Giant cacti amidst the deserts of Lanzarote island, Spain.

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8 of the Best Beaches in Europe http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/02/01/8-of-the-best-beaches-in-europe/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/02/01/8-of-the-best-beaches-in-europe/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2010 12:04:41 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/02/01/8-of-the-best-beaches-in-europe/ I’m dipping my toes in crystal clear waters while my hair gets powdered up with fine sand. I’m in Europe – no castles or cathedrals, just enjoying the sun on a slice of paradise. Whether it’s a secluded bay with emerald surfs slamming on sandstone cliffs, or wide stretches of golden sand glimmering with turquoise [...]

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I’m dipping my toes in crystal clear waters while my hair gets powdered up with fine sand. I’m in Europe – no castles or cathedrals, just enjoying the sun on a slice of paradise. Whether it’s a secluded bay with emerald surfs slamming on sandstone cliffs, or wide stretches of golden sand glimmering with turquoise waters, Europe has a constellation of beaches that makes summer alone worth living. As a follow-up to my previous piece on the best beaches in Asia, here’s a look at my own collection of best beaches in Europe.

1. Navagio Beach – Zakynthos, Greece

Also known as Shipwreck bay, this cove is the trademark of the island and one of the most famous in Greece. Huge vertical cliffs surrounding the white sand creates a paradisical stretch of islet. It can only be reached by boat (leaving hourly), from Porto Vromi. Greece is one of Europe’s most popular summer playground, so avoid the crowd by hitting the beach in April or end of September.

Flickr photo by Anna Oates

2. Playa Papagayo – Lanzarote, Spain

The natural assemblage of a secluded cove and the virgin beach can only be reached via a dirt road or hike – which perhaps is the reason why it is kept in pristine conditions. The crystal clear waters and variety of hiking opportunities on the cliff’s edge makes the tranquil beach one of the best on Lanzarote and in the country.

3. Zlatni Rat – Brač, Croatia

This V-shaped golden pebble beach is one of the most spectacular beaches of the Adriatic. Zlatni Rat, meaning Golden Horn, is unique in its geographical formation.The beach changes shape and position depending on the wind; an incredible phenomenon that can hardly be missed. It is bordered by a pine tree grove in which one can find remnants of a Roman villa rustica, including a swimming pool.

Flickr photo by Mark Heard

4. Cala Tarida – Ibiza, Spain

Forget the party crowd. Ibiza has some of the most natural and pristine beaches in Europe, tucked away behind rocky sandstones. There’s a selection of interestingly shaped rocks to swim out to for a solitary sunbathe or even as a plunging spot for the daredevils (it can be dangerous). Ibiza is a great spot for singles holidays, especially with the vibrant nightlife giving you the chance to mingle around.

5.  Sagres – Algarve, Portugal

This part of Portugal stretches for miles with dramatic landscapes of plunging cliffs, standing sandstone formations and watercolour sea. Dominated at its western end by a white fort, the fine undeveloped beach is backed by a rocky terrain, with impressive waves attracting surfers from around the world. This is my favourite area in Portugal.

6. Las Islas Cies – Galicia, Spain

Voted by the Guardian as one of the best beaches in the world, the island’s main stretch of powdery white sand is as calm as a lake. The wild and stunning island of Islas Cies is protected by the goverment as a national park, restricting the number of visiting tourists. There is only camping available on the island, so this keeps any form of intervention minimal. This is one of my personal favourites.

Flickr photo by lago

7.  Patara – Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Dunes, dunes and more dunes. This rare stretch of beach is backed by the golden dunes and the Taurus mountains. Due to the strict conservation efforts, there are no buildings around, keeping the beach in unspoiled conditions. The beach is one of the few remaining beaches in the world, where the Loggerhead turtles still come to lay their eggs between May and October. The surrounding area is an excellent location for adventure holidays.

Flickr photo by Borya

8. Spiaggia Sabbie Nere – Sicily, Italy

A volcanic beach unlike no other, Black Sands Beach is the finest in the Aeolian archipelago. With black pebbly volcanic sand that makes up for a unique beaching experience, Spiaggia Sabbie Nere is something to tell folks back home about. It is located at Porto di Ponente, on the far end of the island – a quiet and tranquil location to completely unwind.

Flickr photo by protozoo


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Exploring Lanzarote’s Top Nature Spots http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/02/01/exploring-lanzarotes-top-nature-spots/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/02/01/exploring-lanzarotes-top-nature-spots/#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:34:31 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/02/01/exploring-lanzarotes-top-nature-spots/ tn_IMG_2834We are walking in the mar de lava – sea of lava – where massive blankets of solidified lava lie at the foots of Montanya Blanca, Lanzarote. I confess: I’ve become quite a volcano buff after seeing hot molten lava flowing off Guatemala’s most active volcano, Volcan Pacaya. There’s no sign of red burning lava [...]

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We are walking in the mar de lava – sea of lava – where massive blankets of solidified lava lie at the foots of Montanya Blanca, Lanzarote. I confess: I’ve become quite a volcano buff after seeing hot molten lava flowing off Guatemala’s most active volcano, Volcan Pacaya.

There’s no sign of red burning lava flowing here, the volcano has after all been dormant for the past three hundred years. But there’s more to Lanzarote than bubbling lava. The volcanic activities have also created some of the island’s most interesting nature spots in the form of  outlandish formations, oddly-coloured lagoons and savagely wild beaches.

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Timanfaya National Park

There’s nothing more thrilling for a volcano buff than seeing the remnants from an earth-shaking eruption: still covering the entire Timanfaya National Park with black, tar-like, earth bowels. Driving through the volcanic area, you’ll find yourself in the midst of ashes that stack up as tall as a tour bus, and grazing the top of a volcano crater.

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In the 1700s, the fiery volcano had exploded into life, spewing deadly lava, killing many and nearly destroying life on Lanzarote. Today, it is one of the most visited spots in Lanzarote, and rightfully so, with a rich geographical value that comes with it. The Restaurant El Diablo, once again designed by Cesar Manrique, sits at the park’s visitor center.

tn_IMG_2664 A demonstration outside El Diablo restaurant

El Golfo

The volcanic black sand sprawling across a backdrop of edgy rocky cliffs is the setting for several futuristic films. El Charco de los Clicos, a lime-green lagoon creates a stark contrast to the sea and surroundings. The lagoon gets its greenish colour from the algae that grows within the lake.

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tn_IMG_2589 El Charco de los Clicos

Los Hervidores

Along the coast from El Golfo, the enchanting cliffs of Los Hervidores are a collection of naturally formed caves and inlets, a result of the tumultous waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Gazing down at the blowholes in the volcanic rocks, you can spot the island’s semi-precious mineral Olivine in abundance.

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Cuevas de los Verdes

This extensive underground volcanic tunnel, running over six kilometers long, is a result of the eruptive activity of nearby La Corona Volcano. The unique extra-terrestial-like interior of the tunnel awes visitors with sky-high ceilings and lava channels. Potholes are filled with waters so calm you can see the tunnel’s roof reflected immaculately on its surface.

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Playa Papagayo

This assemblage of coves and virgin beaches can only be reached via a dirt road or hike – which perhaps is the reason why they are kept in pristine conditions. The crystal clear waters and variety of hiking opportunities on the cliff’s edge makes the stretch of naturally formed beaches some of the best on the island.

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Where to Stay

Los Zocos Club Resort offers all-inclusive packages with a variety of facilities suitable for couples and families. I particularly liked the fully-equipped apartment style accommodation.  Just 150m from the beach, it’s located in Costa Teguise, one of the calmer towns on the island. Expect tranquility, nature and fun.

If you’re heading to Lanzarote, here’s a list of top Lanzarote hotels.

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Disclaimer: My current six-day stay in Lanzarote is hosted by Los Zocos Club Resort and Hotels4u.com.

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Guest Post: Lanzarote’s Historical Background http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/01/30/guest-post-lanzarotes-historical-background/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/01/30/guest-post-lanzarotes-historical-background/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2010 20:28:18 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/01/30/guest-post-lanzarotes-historical-background/ tn_IMG_2410As I spend the week traversing volcanic paths and soaking up some sun at Los Zocos Resort, on the island of Lanzarote, fellow travel author Nick Ball has offered to share some background on Lanzarote’s entangled past. Nick is proud to call Lanzarote home and is the author of Lanzarote Guidebook, a free pocket-sized guidebook [...]

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As I spend the week traversing volcanic paths and soaking up some sun at Los Zocos Resort, on the island of Lanzarote, fellow travel author Nick Ball has offered to share some background on Lanzarote’s entangled past. Nick is proud to call Lanzarote home and is the author of Lanzarote Guidebook, a free pocket-sized guidebook packed with tons of useful information.

Contrast Between its Present and Past

Lanzarote is the most easterly of the seven specks of Spain that comprise the Canarian archipelago. A group of volcanic islands that were once thought to be the remnants of the lost city of Atlantis, located around eighty miles off the coast of West Africa, the Canaries has a past that is unheard by many.

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Today the islands are one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain. They attract over millions of tourists annually, the majority from the UK and Germany, thanks to a clem nt year round climate that marks the Canaries out as Europe´s only genuine winter sun destination.

But in centuries past the islands played an altogether different role. As the Canaries provided the launching pad for the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, it served as a vital strategic trading post for the nascent Spanish empire.

Its Geographical Location

Lanzarote mapThe islands were first conquered for the Spanish crown by a Norman nobleman called Jean de Bethencourt in the early 1400s. They rapidly evolved to assume enormous strategic importance in the age of sail power, thanks to the fact that Spanish galleons could navigate south along the coast of Africa to the islands with ease. As a result of their position in the path of the Trade Winds, they propelled Spanish mariners in the direction of their new colonies in the Americas.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the islands were used as a staging post by the Spanish ships that criss-crossed the Atlantic. Transporting slaves from Africa to the New World, they also brought Inca silver and gold back to the Old. The trade route soon caught the attention of Europe’s leading privateers – such as Drake and Raleigh – who are still regarded as little better than pirates in Spanish history books, while enjoying hero status in England.

This Inca silver and gold fired the Spanish economy – enabling the crown to literally make their own money, but other European and African rivals sought to undermine this source of riches at every turn. This led to repeated attacks and raids on islands such as Lanzarote.

Struck by A Different Attack

Just as these power struggles began to recede during the early 18th Century, Lanzarote was subjected to an altogether different type of attack. As the island drowned in one of the modern world’s largest and longest volcanic eruptions (lasted for over six years from 1730), development and growth came to a halt.

This cataclysmic event wiped out most of the best farmland on the island, carpeting it in a sea of solid lava. Forcing many Lanzaroteños to leave the island and abandon their homes, many chose to start new lives in Latin America and the Caribbean (with Cuba in particular a popular destination – many brought their tobacco-growing expertise to good use).

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Today, the volcanoes are in fact one of Lanzarote´s greatest assets. With the surreal lavascapes of the Timanfaya Volcano Park attracting close to one million visitors every year, the ash-laiden area pulls in the island’s main source of income. Whilst the island remains an important port of call for sailors from Europe heading across the Atlantic, it is now more of a port of call for travellers in the region.

Migratory patterns have also been reversed and Lanzarote is now home to a sizeable population of immigrants from across Latin America. Many of whom can claim descendancy from the islanders who were forced to flee back in the 1730s.

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Guidebook Spring09

Nick’s Lanzarote Guidebook can be found in most tourist information centers and tourism offices island wide.  Besides restaurant and hotel reviews, it includes essential attractions (Top 5 Things to see in Lanzarote) as well as local hangouts. Check out his website for more updates on life on the island of Lanzarote.

 

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Volcanoes and Modern Art: Lanzarote http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/01/27/volcanoes-and-modern-art-lanzarote/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/01/27/volcanoes-and-modern-art-lanzarote/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2010 21:39:32 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/01/27/volcanoes-and-modern-art-lanzarote/ View from our balconyI woke up this morning with the view of a looming volcano ahead. We are at Los Zocos Club Resort the Spanish island of Lanzarote. Although we’re not on the seafront, our balcony opens up to a view of the estate’s pool and a towering volcano in the background. Not bad at all. Our resort [...]

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I woke up this morning with the view of a looming volcano ahead. We are at Los Zocos Club Resort the Spanish island of Lanzarote. Although we’re not on the seafront, our balcony opens up to a view of the estate’s pool and a towering volcano in the background. Not bad at all.

Our resort stands right in the tourist heart of Costa Teguise, where typical white-and-green island architecture are transformed into neon-lit souvenir shops and English pubs. Inspite of it, I’m surprised by how homely our cozy unit at Los Zocos is.

It can easily pass off for an apartment, with kitchen and living area attached and a whole string of equipment like stove, microwave and dining table. The day we arrived, I whiled away my afternoon sitting out in the balcony, reading a book under the sun. Talk about relaxing.

View from our balcony

Where Nature and Art Coexist

Starting off with an early morning the next day, we drove northwards to follow the footsteps of César Manrique. An iconic architect/artist from the Canary Islands (a group of isles belonging to Spain but located along the coast of West Africa) with equal fame and status as Gaudi and Miró, César’s artwork is scattered all over the isle.

A tiny volcanic island with hilly emerald peaks, deep valleys and  surrounding dark blue sea, you can easily mistake Lanzarote for Hawaii or Costa Rica. But what sets it apart is how it combines nature and art so immaculately they coexist as one. César is one such artist who believes strongly in that – his artistic philosophy lies in integrating architecture into natural landscape with minimal intervention. We traipsed his steps, visiting his brilliant architectonic works in the northern part of Lanzarote.

Natural landscape of Lanzarote

Jameos del Agua

Dining area of jameos del aguaThe jameo (an opening in the ground) was formed by the eruption of La Corona Volcano. César gave this work of nature his personal touch, adding a modern twist to an untouched surrounding. Previously a volcanic tunnel, the jameo was formed when the roof of the tunnel collapsed over time.

Within the enclave, a natural lake with extraordinarily clear waters, is the main attraction. A bar is set up around the lake, with fine dining and traditional dance performance available at night. The Jameo Grande at the end of the walkway features an exotic garden where palms and cactus cast their shadows over a watercolour blue pool.

Jameo grande

View of jameo grande amidst the shrubs

LagOmar

Entrance of LagomarThe previous home of famous actor Omar Sharif is another brilliant masterpiece by César and his partner, Jésus Soto. The white-washed villa is built into the rocky cliffs of Nazaret, where the volcanic walls and gorgeous decor blend smoothly.

The artist makes use of spaces creatively, carving an oasis-like setting with luscious palms, magical tunnels and patio. We sat at the outdoor bar, staring up at the volcanic home ahead – a unique piece of creation.

Peeping through volcanic walkway Lagomar

Jardín de Cactus

A cactus upclose With hundreds of species of cactus gracing the grounds of this garden, César again artfully assembles them amidst natural volcanic rocks and sprinkling lakes atop stepped terraces.

The audacious architectonic formation astounds even novices like myself. Atop the traditional windmill that stands above the garden, we soaked in a panoramic view of the sunset over a horizon of cactus, plunging volcanoes and the ocean in the far distance.

Cactus Garden

View of surrounding mountains from cactus garden

With a dreamy ending to our day of exploration, we trudged back to our abode at Los Zocos, where our home away home awaits.

Disclaimer: My current six-day stay in Lanzarote is hosted by Los Zocos Club Resort and Hotels4u.com.

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Our living area and kitchen

Los Zocos Club Resort offers all-inclusive packages with a variety of facilities suitable for couples and families. Just 500m from the beach, it’s located in Costa Teguise, one of the calmer towns on the island. Expect tranquility, nature and fun. If you’re heading to Lanzarote, here’s a list of top Lanzarote hotels.

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