Lanzarote (including rainfall and temperature averages)
The easternmost of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is just 79 miles from Africa. It
is referred to by Herodotus and Pliny but the first known inhabitants were the Guanches,
who lived a pastoral, almost Stone Age existence with no access to the plough or
even the wheel. In 1336 a boat arrived from Lisbon, captained by Lancelloto Malocello,
who built a fortress and gave his name to the island. The Spanish conquered the
island in 1402 and remained in control until the late sixteenth century when an
Ottoman admiral captured it. Over the next hundred and fifty years, it was raided
by pirates and many of the citizens taken as slaves – but this was nothing compared
to the volcanic eruptions that began in 1730 and continued for 2,053 days, creating
32 new volcanoes in an 18 km stretch. Lava covered a quarter of the island’s surface,
burying eleven villages and much of the fertile land. Many of the inhabitants were
forced to live in caves; after severe droughts in 1768 a number of them decided
to emigrate to Cuba and the population was reduced to a few hundred people. In the
early twentieth century the salt industry attracted more residents but it was not
until the advent of affordable air travel that tourism really revitalised the island.
No high rise buildings are allowed on Lanzarote and the concrete resorts that are
popularly associated with it are very few and far between. Yes, the beaches are
stunning, and there are all kinds of water sports – windsurfing, diving and fishing
– as well as golf and an array of theme parks but there’s much more to it than that.
This is a semi-desert climate, with warm winters and scorching summers and no more
than 16 days of annual rainfall. On the hottest days, the sirocco wind carries dust
from the Sahara, which can be very uncomfortable.
The island has been designated a UN biosphere because of its weird and wonderful
landscape. Volcanic activity created awesome lava fields and the Atlantida Tunnel,
the longest volcanic tunnel in the world, which encompasses the mystical Green Caves
and Jameos de Agua, a series of volcanic tubes and bubbles that has been turned
into a nightclub and tropical garden complex. Nearby, the Cactus Gardens are home
to 14,000 plant species. Visitors who want to watch volcanos in action should head
to Timanfaya National Park, which is best seen by camel.
Arrecife is the capital of the island, a warm town with many attractions. Castillo
de San Jose, built as a fortress in the seventeenth century, is now home to a modern
art collection. The paintings and sculptures look striking in the black volcanic
rock setting. Pretty Castillo de San Gabriel is located on a tiny islet, the Islote
de los Ingleses. Further east are the Iglesia de San Gines, a classic colonial church,
and beyond that the Charco de San Gines, a tidal lagoon that extends into the heart
of town. The promenade around it is lined with palm trees, small bridges, cottages
and bars and makes the perfect place to spend an evening.
Cuisine in the Canary Islands is very distinctive, combining classic Spanish tastes
with North African and Latin American influences. Typical dishes include sancocho,
a salted fish soup; papas arrugadas, wrinkled potatoes with a spicy sauce; vieja
(“old lady”), parrotfish cooked in olive oil; and goat stew. Bienemsabe (“it tastes
good to me”) is a dessert made with honey, almond cream, eggs and rum. The local
wine, known as “el monte”, comes from vines that grow into the rocks, and must be
tasted. Rum is another favourite.
Monthly temperature and rainfall averages for Lanzarote
Average minimum temperature
Average maximum temperature
Absolute minimum temperature
Absolute maximum temperature
Average daily rain
Avg monthly rain
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