Our tour met at 12:30pm in the ship’s theater. A total of 23 people signed up for this excursion, but only 16 showed. This led to a bit of a delay. Vans were our transport for the tour, and we departed at 1pm on a sunlit, 73-degree day.
It was a 30-minute ride from the pier to our drop off point at almost the literal center of the island. The hiking trail was just off the side of the road, and we began by pulling over to its shoulder. A faint trail headed in the direction of one of the volcanic craters.
The first things we saw were hundreds of dug out hollows used for protecting crops. These circular areas protect the vegetation from wind, and allow the plants access to the water tables below the lava rock. Later in the tour, we saw even more elaborate circles covering substantial areas of land. The main produce here are grapes.
As we continued our walk, the terrain exhibited random craters from volcanic explosions of long ago. We saw many deposits of lava and lava canals as the tour description had promised.
Scientists can often estimate the age of a volcano by studying its neighboring greenery. Lichens, algae and fungus plants, consistently come out first because they require only sand and wind to survive. Older craters have much more greenery and vegetation around them.
Because this entire area experienced numerous volcanic eruptions, all of the soil and sand are understandably black. The blackness is volcanic ash that the wind can easily carry away. Volcanic ash can vary in size from simple small cinders to something as large as a volcanic bomb (being larger than 2.5 inches).
We saw that lava, although seemingly hardened on top, has a more jelly-like quality if you dig several feet beneath it. Hence, it’s realistic to say, that the surface continues to move around, long after the end of an eruption.
As we trekked along, we started ascending on what the tour guide referred to as a junk volcano. We made it to a minor plateau that was a perfect photo point and contained an area encompassing a small well. An eruption in 1730 had covered the watering hole completely. Locals dug through the volcanic ash to still have access to the water.
We hiked down the plateau and pressed on across the terrain of lava fields. From our vantage point, at least seven more volcanic cones showed in the distance making for an impressive photo opportunity.
Eventually, we came to Crater de la Caldera de Los Cuervos (translated as the Crater of the Cauldron of the Crows). We hiked around the base of this volcano and went in a side opening. We heard that the massive crater formed over a 19-day period. An interesting fact… the film One Million Years B.C (1966) shot several segments at this location, as well as photography for an album cover by the band Audioslave.
We lingered in the Crater about 25 minutes. Here our guide showed us green crystals formed on the volcanic rock. He had bought a magnifying glass that allowed us to examine their striking beauty more closely. The group also spent a few silent minutes just listening to the sounds of nature at the crater’s center. It was an overall surreal experience.
As we left the crater, we quickly began to tramp among the dunes surrounding it. We kept an energetic pace with few stops causing a few group members to slip behind. The tour guide did not wait for the others to catch up.
When we did finally stop, there were more crop circles and fig trees surrounded by stone walls. These walls break the wind that constantly blows across the land. Just below the tree area, we stepped to a cactus-pear field. The guide cut open one of the fruits to show us the inside and explain local farming techniques. After the cactus-pear fields, we walked by a large area of crop circles growing grapes. These grapes are used in the production of local wines.
At 4pm we finished the 4-mile trek. We sat by the road for about twenty minutes while our guides went to retrieve the vans. After boarding the vans, we headed down the road a few miles to Bodegas Rubicon to sample some local wine. For one Euro we sampled Amalia, a dry but sweet white wine, produced from the local grapes we saw growing just before.
We left Bodegas Rubicon at 5pm with drop-off options either in town or at the pier. We opted to return to the ship and arrived at 5:30pm. We were a bit dusty and quite tired after a long strenuous trek around the volcanic park.
Notes: A few things to consider bringing along include a light knapsack, several bottles of water, a hat, and sunglasses. The tour operator provided an extra bottle of water to everybody. Our guide also had walking poles if anyone needed one. We suggest you wear hiking shoes rather than traditional tennis shoes because the topography is hilly with considerable, loose earth. Be mindful that everything about you gets dusty and sweaty and there is scant to no shade over the four hour tour. If you have any walking handicap, do not sign-up for this excursion.
The ship offered a shuttle service to town if you didn’t want to take a tour. There was a small charge for this service. Otherwise you would have to walk approximately one mile to the town center.