Travel and Culture

Lanzarote: El Lago Verde and Playa Montaña Bermeja

The landscape of South Lanzarote is like nothing I have seen before. Passing through the dormant volcanoes and solidified lava streams that the islands geology is composed of is like driving on a distant planet.

Huge chunks of black lava form rugged peaks and twisted natural sculptures that wouldn’t look out of place on a documentary about the moon landing. These lunar like areas of crumbling lava are completely unnavigable on foot. On the horizon mountains of red dust rise from the earth, their colours all the brighter in contrast to the dark lava fields they dominate. It is so sparse here. There is very little vegetation, just crumbling gnarly rock, lava and dust in every shade of black, grey and red imaginable. We pass fields which are nothing more than patches of land bordered with walls constructed from chunks of volcanic rock. Within the walls there is nothing growing just neatly raked rows of tiny black pebbles.

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As we pass through small towns there is evidence of some greenery. Tall slender cacti sprout from the dense dark ground, their spikes reaching towards the sky. Round varieties of cactus with golden crowns of flowers squat close to the ground. Prickly aloe vera plants thrive. There is no grass, just rocks. Garden upon garden of dusty rocks. Despite the bleakness somehow the combination of dark ragged sharp lava, hills with towering apexes and the bright blue sea is breathtaking.

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Approximately 20 minutes drive (18km) from our accommodation is El Lago Verde ‘The Green Lake’. On our way to the lake we pull over at a small beach, Playa Montaña Bermeja. The sound of the tide rushing in against thousands of black stones is mesmerising.

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What is also fascinating is the composition of the tiny rocks that make up the shoreline. They are light to pick up, remnants of the lava that flooded this side of the island for over six years in 1730. As the magma reached the surface as lava and cooled, the rock solidified and any gases that did not escape were trapped inside the rocks as holes called vesicles. Volcanic rocks often have this vesicular texture. They are highly porous due to the cavities and therefore weigh very little.

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Looking inland from the beach a stunning red mountain dominates the skyline, framed to the front by black gnarly lava field it feels as if I have stepped onto Mars, the effect of the sparse environment is space-like, in fact it is rumoured that astronauts in training used to come to Lanzarote to see how it would look on the moon!

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After retreating to our car we finally arrive at our destination, El Golfo village. El Lago Verde rests in the semi circular crater of the extinct volcano Montaña Golfo, locally known as El Golfo. The volcano is now half submerged, half of the crater being eroded over thousands of years by the Atlantic ocean. The interaction between magma and water has resulted in a spectacular landscape, half the crater remains, the remarkable red and russet tones of the striated wall of the inner crater wall are clearly visible.

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After a short walk over the dusty headland, the hidden El Lago Verde comes into view.

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The Lagoon is a vibrant jade green colour (as suggested by its name, ‘verde’ meaning green). The lake’s colour is believed to come from algae, micro-organisms and volcanic minerals that are unique to this area.

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Surrounding the lagoon are a plethora of tiny black-lava rocks that form the shoreline. The juxtaposition of the deep black shore, the breathtaking blue ocean and the strange green lake is incredible. The black rocks also hide a green secret as many of them contain the green semi precious stone olivine which is commonly found in the El Golfo region.

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El Lago Verde is a must see if you are in the El Golfo area, it showcases the marvel of the natural world and the mighty forces of both the ocean and the volcano.

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