LANZAROTE & GRAN CANARIA - 1st Port of Call - SUNSHINE ROUTE
The Canary Islands have a climate of their own, due in the first place to their geographical position in the middle of the Atlantic, near the African coast; secondly, because of their place in the path of the trade winds, which are responsible for the peculiar character of their climate, and thirdly, because of the variety of their geographical features, ie, the more mountainous islands have more rain, such as Tenerife, La Palma and Gran Canaria, and the less rugged ones, such as Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, have less rain. Consequently, the mountains have a direct bearing on the amount of rain that falls and not the proximity of the African continent, as is commonly believed.
All the climatic indicators based on the sensation experienced by the human body when the values of temperature, humidity and wind speed are combined coincide in showing that the islands have the best possible conditions for eternal spring throughout the year.
Isla de Lanzarote
The aborigines called the island 'Tite-roy-gatra', or Red Mountain; the Romans called it 'Pupuria' because of the abundance of purple lichen (orchil), but the name Lanzarote comes from the Island's discovery by the Genoese, Lancelotto Malocello, who reclaimed it from the obscurity it had fallen into since classical times.
About 100 km off the African coast, Lanzarote is in the temperate zone of the Tropic of Cancer, warmed by the Saharan temperatures meeting the Gulf Stream. One of the many reasons for coming to the archipelago is to see why UNESCO, in 1993, declared this flat, volcanic Island of sparse vegetation and fields of lava as a World Biosphere Reserve.
Lanzarote, in common with the other Islands is a shield volcano made of prominent fissure vents, approximately 20 million years old. There are four main calderas and numerous cones and fissures. Basalts erupted in 1730-1736 and 1824 cover about one fourth of the surface of the island. The vents for the 1730-1736 eruption are near Montanas del Fuego. The 1824 eruption lasted about three months and was focused at the Nuevo del Fuego vent. The north end of the Island of Fuerteventura can be seen near the bottom of the photo. The shape of the island differs on space photos compared to maps. However, both views are correct. The map shows the island as it would be seen looking directly down on it, with no distortion. The space photo was taken through the window of the Space Shuttle when the island was off to the side. The oblique view made the island look shorter.
Cactus Garden Lanzarote architecture
Popular songs and dances have a characteristic cadence, in which contributions from the Peninsula mingle with a native basis. An exotic, original feeling is conveyed by the expressive stances of the dancers, by the many coloured costumes, which are different on every island, by the rhythm of the melodies - some of which have airs of a certain languid slowness. The isa and the folias are the most popular songs and dances, apart from the malagueña of Andalusian origin, which has taken root in the Canaries. The typical musical instrument used for accompaniment is the timple, a kind of ukulele with a harmonious sound. Crafts mainly take the form of openwork and embroidery, which are done by Canary women with great skill and refined taste. It may be said that the first Canary greeting which the traveller receives upon his arrival in the islands are examples of this delicate work shown and on sale everywhere. Pottery also has a long tradition and is of the greatest interest, as is making baskets with palm leaves, reed and wicker. Delicate objects are also produced by carving wood.
The Canary Islands are a shopping paradise because there is no customs barrier. Not even the tax-free shops at the airports can compete with prices in the Canaries. Liqueurs, tobacco, cameras and film cameras, tape recorders, transistor radios, watches, everything is cheaper than in their countries of origin.
The Canary archipelago is connected with Europe, Africa, but especially with the Spanish peninsula, by numerous sea and air links. The shortest distance between these islands and Africa is 115 Km. From Gran Canaria and Tenerife to the port of Cádiz, there are 680 and 705 miles, respectively, the equivalent of two days at sea. Direct flights by jet from Madrid take a little over two hours. Every island, with the exception of Gomera, has airports for national and international flights. For the moment, the airport on the island of El Hierro only receives national flights. There are numerous air and sea links between the different islands of the archipelago. Especially between Tenerife and Gran Canaria there are several air and sea links every day.
Canary cooking includes many dishes prepared with fish caught in large amounts along the coast. Fish is served with the famous papas arrugadas, potatoes boiled in salt water, and a hot sauce called mojo. Traditional dishes are watercress stew, the popular sancocho canario, made with salted fish and mojo, rabbit in salmorejo, a sauce consisting of water, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, sweet black pudding, etc. Banana and tomato, the main source of wealth of the islands, also occupy an important place in Canary cooking as do avocado pear and papaya fruit as well as gofio, a roasted mixture of wheat, maize or barley, which is eaten with certain dishes of the country instead of bread. Among the sweets, especially outstanding are tirijalas, bienmesabes, frangollo, bizcochos lustrados, turrones de melaza or gofio and pastry. Typical of the island of El Hierro are quesadillas and of La Palma rapaduras and marquesotes. Among the drinks produced in the islands, there are especially rum, rum-cum-honey, malmsey wine and the reds from Tacoronte. A splendid complement to a Canary meal is the excellent, native tobacco, world-famous because of the quality and variety of its tastes, among which the typical cigars, exported to countries of all kinds deserve special mention.
The temperature variations between the different seasons are especially eye-catching: 6C (42.8F) between the warmest and the coldest month. The number of really good days varies from between 90 per cent in August and 50 per cent in January, and it is typical for them to be mild - between 18 and 24C (64.4 and 75.2F) -, with clean, fresh air, a rather high degree of humidity (80 per cent) and a partially clouded sky in places lying east of the mountains and close to them. The less agreeable days with a southern African wind only account for 7 per cent (26 days in the whole year). At the same time, its mountainous features produce temperature changes depending on the altitude so that even snow is found on some peaks.
The so-called Canary current contributes to the mild climate. It keeps the surface temperature of the sea below that corresponding to the latitude. The mean temperature of the sea water is 22 in the summer and 19 in the winter. As a result of their pleasant spring with a mean temperature of 18C (64.4F) and their splendid summer with 22C (71.6F), the climate of these marvelous islands is unmatched and the feeling of well-being constant.
The islands are the ideal setting for the practice of all kinds of sports. There are many fans of underwater fishing, swimming and whatever other sports there are on the beach and at the swimming pools. The traveller has a thousand training possibilities at the tennis courts, trap-shooting, riding clubs and the magnificent golf courses with a perfect lawn on undulating terrain. There are also occasions to get to know local sports, such as cock fights, the game of sticks, a kind of fencing with two long poles, and the famous Canary catch as-catch-can of remote origin, which requires great skill and strength and is a spectacle of major interest. Another tradition is el salto del regatón or de la garrocha, practiced above all in the island of La Palma.
Temperatures: Minimum, 18ºC in January. Maximum, 24.5ºC in July
Canary Underwater Activities Federation: C/ San Sebastián, 76. 2º Floor Santa Cruz de Tenerife Tel: 922 22 67 71 Fax: 922 22 04 85
Canary Underwater Activities Delegation: Apdo. de Correos 1339. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Tel-fax: 928 23 49 45
Canary Water-Skiing Federation: C/ Pérez Reyes. Pabellón de Deportes de Tacoronte 38350 Tacoronte. Santa Cruz de Tenerife Tel-fax: 922 57 28 13
Canary Sailing Federation: Muelle Deportivo, s/n. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Tel: 928 23 47 69 Fax: 928 24 24 68
Vela Latina Federation (local sport): Explanada Muelle Deportivo, s/n. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Tel: 928 23 06 16 Fax: 928 29 33 56
Canary Canoeing Federation: C/ Alemania, 62. Bajo. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Tel: 928 29 07 16 Fax: 928 24 0l 94
Tenerife Inter-Island Council Sailing School: Vía Auxiliar Paso Alto, s/n. Valleseco 38150 S/C de Tenerife Tel: 922 59 72 58
Canary Speed Boating Federation: C/ San Sebastián, 74. 1ºD. 38005 Santa Cruz de Tenerife Tel: 922 20 48 07
Sea Sports School in San Sebastián de La Gomera: Plaza de Las Américas, 4. 38800 San Sebastián de La Gomera Tel: 922 14 10 72
Sources of Information:
Carracedo, J.C., 1994, The Canary Islands: an example of structural control on the growth of large oceanic-island volcanoes. J. Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 60, p. 225-241.
Carracedo, J.C., 1996, Morphological and structural evolution of the western Canary Islands: hotspot-induced three-armed rifts or regional tectonic trends? J. Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 72.
Krafft, M., and de Larouziere, F.D., 1991, Guide des Volcans d'Europe et des Canaries, Delachaux et Niestle, Lausanne, 455 p.
Neumann van Padang, M., Richards, A.F., Machado, F., Bravo, T., Baker, E., Le Maitre, W., 1967, Part XXI, Atlantic Ocean: Catalogue of the active volcanoes of the world, International Association of Volcanology, Rome, Italy, 128 p.
Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the World: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.
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