It is with great sadness that I affirm it: the only way to know the heart of the National Park of Timanfaya, next to the so-called Hilario's Islet, is aboard large tour buses. It is not possible to walk, it is not possible to be in contact with nature, in contemplative silence; it is only possible to enjoy Timanfaya through the dirty glasses of a 52 bus seats, accompanied by five dozen noisy tourists.
Contrary to what happens in the Teide in Tenerife, it is not allowed to walk in the heart of Timanfaya. No matter how hard you try, I do not understand.
They may prevent trekking for safety reasons (it is dangerous to walk on lava, because of the lava tunnels), but if the rails were marked there would be no problem.
They may prevent trekking to allegedly preserve the natural park, but who does trekkings seriously regards by definition Nature. And surely with less impact than visiting Timanfaya on a bus.
In any case, I do not think having dozens of buses circulating in the heart of the park is more "environmentally friendly" than having dozens of people do trekking on well marked rails.
There must be a strong reason ...
Os CACT - Art, Culture and Tourism Centers of Lanzarote speak of "restrictive laws governing National Parks" as the reason for creating the bus route, an argument that falls by land when compared to what is happening in the Teide National Park in Tenerife, which belongs to the same archipelago the Canary Islands and where there are trail from Pico Velho to Narizes do Teide. As a curiosity, he was one of the best trekkings which I have already done in life, in total harmony with nature.
My experience in Timanfaya
My visit to Timanfaya is, therefore, one of few and nothing exciting lines.
I arrived by car to the parking lot next to the expensive restaurant El Diablo, at the top of the Hilario's Islet ("A rocky promontory where the tourists arriving at the heart of the park are received"), after almost 45 minutes stopped in the traffic, in line, to arrive there.
I then got on a bus with another five dozen tourists; I appreciated the landscape behind the glass along the call Volcano Route, small roads lined by unbelievably beautiful landscapes, while listening to a recording with some explanations about the landscape.
I returned to the El Diablo complex for a demonstration of the very high temperature to which the subsoil is located. I ate a sandwich to fool the hunger. And I left, annoyed that I only knew the "Mountains of Fire" by bus.
In all honesty, I hated it.
That day, the passage was saved by the very interesting Visitors and Interpretation Center of Mancha Blanca, whose visit I recommend unreservedly.
Note that there are some walking tours, guided, inside the Timanfaya National Park. I did not do any, even because I did not know of their existence in time. They are free tours, but it is necessary to obtain the respective authorization in the official website (limited places). There are, however, no marked tracks that allow visitors to walk safely independently, as in Tenerife. And that is a pity.
How to get to Lanzarote
There were no direct flights from Portugal to Lanzarote, I opted for buy a cheap flight from Ryanair from Madrid. The ticket cost me 75 € per person, round trip, luggage included.
To get to the Spanish capital, and as we were during school holidays, I took the opportunity to drive for three days, and then visit the villages of Salamanca, Avila and Segovia. On the return from Lanzarote, I landed in Madrid and drove straight to Oporto.
Where to rent a car
Normally I usually search for cars at RentalCars, which almost always offers the best prices; but in the case of the Canary Islands there is a rent-a-car place I have used and strongly recommend, called Cabrera Medina. They are cheap, uncomplicated, have offices at airports and insurance provides total peace of mind. I recommend!
During the week I spent in Lanzarote, I always left by rental car. I paid a total of 115 € for seven days of rental, including all risk insurance and no deductible. A bargain, therefore.
If your flight departs too early, the key delivery process is very simple. Just park the car in the park drop-off from the airport and leave the keys in the office (preferably within the envelope provided). If you want to compare prices with other companies, see RentalCars options using the link below.
Tips for visiting CACT
If you want to know several of the attractions that are part of the CACT - such as the Jameos de Agua, Rio Mirador, Catos Garden or the Fire Mountains (Timanfaya) - consider buying the combined tickets that allow you to visit up to six of the CACT. They are valid for 14 days and allow for savings of up to 10 €. There is one app with a "complete and official guide" worth downloading.
Where to stay
For much more detailed information on the best regions of the island to spend the night, see the text on where to stay in Lanzarote. Anyway, if you want to do a beach vacation I recommend the very nice Apartment El Pueblo and the most luxurious Villa Estaca (Playa Blanca); or the resorts Sightseeing e R2 Bahia Kontiki (Punta del Carmen).
If, instead, you prefer more rural environments - as in my case - consider staying in Haría or Teguise. In particular, see the guesthouses House Las Vistas ou Rustic house Villa Lola Y Juan (Haria); or the B & B La Mimosa (excellent value for money) and the charming (but more expensive) Sightseeing (Teguise).
For other accommodation options, for all tastes and prices, please see link below.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.