Mordor is not on everyone’s travel list, it is quite difficult to get there, but it is totally worth a visit! But to make it clear. I’m not talking about the Mordor – The Black Land of Shadows occupied by Sauron, where Frodo traveled to accomplish his quest of destroying the One Ring. I mean the Mordor-ish region of Lanzarote – Los Volcanes Natural Park.
There are many places that remind of Mordor in Lanzarote. Timanfaya was great but there you can see the volcanic area only from the bus. That subdued much of my enjoyment because I wanted to see a Mordor-ish landscape up close; I wanted to climb the blackish hills of hell and look inside its crater! If I had a magic ring, I would consider dropping it there. Then again, that would be a waste of gold.
Mount Doom which in Lanzarote is called Caldera Blanca, is one of the few extinct volcanoes in this great area which can be climbed. Far from being the highest of the many volcanoes on the island, it is certainly the widest. It is perfectly circular with high walls all around. Although the name says, that the volcano is white, or a dirty beige, Caldera Blanca only appears white from a distance, because of its black, sea of lava, surroundings.
I thought that hiking the caldera would be a popular activity, but it seems that it is not! When we went there, there was no one else in the range of few km! Lanzarote tourists prefer the beaches I presume. It is a pity, because the proximity of the Montanas del Fuego ensures good views of the apocalyptic, volcanic landscape. Climbing Caldera Blanca is not that hard, it is a rather pleasant experience. The route takes you first across a dramatic lava field and then up the outside of a spectacular volcanic crater. When you reach the rim, you can easily make a ridge walk around the crater.
To avoid crowds (yes we thought that there might be a lot of people on the trail) we started our excursion at 4pm! It may seem late but Canary Islands have the Spanish time zone, so the sunset is really late.
The starting point was in Mancha Blanca. We parked our car in a small makeshift parking lot, found at the start of the trail. In the parking lot we found a signpost referring to the walk. We could see our destination – majestic Caldera Blanca with its little sister – the Montana Caldereta in front. Around the trail, strips of blackish volcanic lava dominated the scenery. This was what I had been looking for! The trail we followed was well marked. The path was dug out of solidified lava and was made of small volcanic stones. Because it is lave, you need good trekking shoes. With every step the small rocks came to life and jumped joyfully on the sides of my shoes. The sound of walking on these small, playful lava stones resembles walking along a pebble beach at low tide.
We walked less than 15 minutes to a sign informing us that we were in a nature reserve. This was Timanfaya. At this point passes the border between the sea of lava and the rest of Lanzarote. At this point, the trail becomes narrower and the dirt is replaced by hard, rough volcanic rocks. Walking here is less comfortable and one needs to be careful of one’s steps.
After 30 minutes we reached the path to one of the peaks. First was Montana Caldereta, a lower neighbour of Caldera Blanca. The trail then was not clearly marked. And we continued by our intuition. We picked a shorter, steeper trail up towards the rim of the crater, perhaps less than a one hour walk.
We never imagined the majesty of this volcano. My first look words were: „What an amazing crater! What a huge crater! What a…” and I lost my breath! With its various shades of color: white, ochre, reddish, and dark green and with the powerful silence that can be “heard” around, this place left me speechless.
It was getting late when we started our crater’s rim walk. I was tired from the previous day’s climb so my friend ran to the summit alone. I continued in my own, slower tempo, and my friend became small in the distance. He could have been Frodo, finishing the quest alone! I was enjoying the views around me, amazed and in awe. I was not alone as there were many ravens. All of them seemed to look at me and these birds of death made the place even more Mordor-ish.
The path on the crater’s rim is not marked. The whole rim is approximately 3 metres wide and so there are no directly visible steep drops on either side. Due to the lack of time,I did not make the summit. Nevertheless, the views from the rim were extremely impressive. The views across Timanfaya National Park featuring its impressive cones and craters are amazing, especially when the day gives up to the dark night. The disappearing sun, same as The Eye of Sauron, circumscribes the entire area.
The descent was easy and pleasant and super fast. I didn’t want to risk staying in Mordor for a night. When I was wading the sea of lava I was wondering if our car was where we left it. The car parking lot looked like the ”middle of nowhere”, far away from civilization. We reached the car before total darkness. The sunset above Mordor was spectacular. We left this place, and the sun did the same.