To the locals, this island is known as La Isla Bonita ~ the beautiful island. A combination of its southerly position, warm temperatures all year round and prevailing NE trade winds giving regular rainfall, ensure much of the island is covered with lush green vegetation. It is the most active of all the Canary islands, having erupted many times in the historic past, most recently in 1971. The island's spectacular caldera was the first to be so called, and it has subsequently given its name to all such features. The tour will be based at Puerto Naos, in the dry SW corner of the island, which has more than 300 days of sunshine per year. All excursions will be escorted, making some use of local guides who have specialist knowledge of the sites of the area. The visit is open to all adults. The party will be led by Alan Clewlow, an experienced geologist who will be on hand to offer advice and some explanation of the features seen and guidance around the area. It will also offer a superb opportunity for photography.
The eight-day visit will also give the chance to spend some free time, which could be used to view the scenery in some of the more remote corners of the island. On the return there is a one-night stopover in Madrid, with time available to explore the city the next day before the flight back to the UK.
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Leave London (Heathrow) on morning Iberia Airlines flight to La Palma via Madrid. Transfer by coach to 4-star hotel in the beach resort of Puerto Naos, arriving late-afternoon. Introductory talk before dinner to discuss the week's activities.
A day spent in the Parque Nacional de la Caldera de Taburiente. We start with a visit to the National Park visitor centre, to get some background to the geological history of the island. There then follows a visit to La Cumbrecita, within the caldera, and a walk on the flanks of the later volcano Bejenado, which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
A day covering various sites on the north of the island, including the archaeological site of La Zarza, including a museum devoted to the history of the Benahoares (the former native inhabitants of the island). We shall also visit Las Tricias, for a short walk to view the Dragon trees from Buracas. The day culminates with a drive to the Rocque de los Muchachos, the site of several large astronomical telescopes. This is the highest point reached by a road on the edge of Caldera de la Taburiente, with spectacular views deep down into the caldera, and over the entire island.
We pass through the town of Los Llanos, before taking the steep route down into the Barranco de Las Angustias. Crossing the stream at the base, the road then climbs through a section of the Northern Shield volcano, starting with submarine pillow lavas of the underlying seamount at the base. We will follow the path upstream from the floor of the Barranco to view the pillow lavas, and take the opportunity to bathe (if desired) in the natural pools created by the stream bed.
A morning spent in the main island town of Santa Cruz de La Palma, with time for lunch there. After lunch, we journey south to the area of the most recent volcanic activity on the island, near Fuencaliente. We view the San Antonio cone (last eruption 1949) and the Teneguia cone (which last erupted in 1971). Close by is a visitor centre with information on the origins and history of the volcano.
A short coach ride to the Refugio del Pilar, from where we commence a walk along the "Ruta de los Volcanes", the ridge forming the southern backbone of the island formed by the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which has in the process created a series of cones. The group will walk the route to the Hoya Negro cone and the solidified former lava lake near the Duraznero crater and then return.
This will be a free day. Your chance to relax and spend time on one of the local beaches, to book any one of a number of excursions on offer, or to use the local transport to further explore the island.
Free morning in resort then transfer to airport for late afternoon return flight to Madrid, which arrives early evening. Transfer by shuttle-bus to 4-star hotel near the airport.
Free morning and afternoon, which can be used to take in some of the many sights the city of Madrid has to offer. Early evening flight back to Heathrow.
(Please note that this might have to be amended due to weather or sea conditions, but hopefully all planned activities will take place. The itinerary has been planned with a certain amount of flexibility so that adverse weather on one day should not prevent a planned activity being cancelled completely.)
The cost of the visit, based on half-board accommodation, is £950. This includes return flights (and taxes) by Iberia Airlines from London (Heathrow) to Madrid, and Madrid to La Palma, coach transfers and local excursions on the itinerary listed above. Included in the cost is 7 nights (half-board) accommodation in a 4-star hotel in Puerto Naos, plus one night at a hotel near Madrid Airport on room-only basis. Accommodation is based on two people sharing a room. It should be possible to arrange single rooms for those who require it, but this will involve a supplement.
All those taking part in the tour are expected to arrange their own holiday insurance, which can be obtained from any travel agent or insurance broker.