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travel: Go with the flow; Visit Lanzarote to enjoy ocean luxury and witness nature at its most brutal.

Byline: By Brian McCartney

IF you're usually a sit-on-your-butt-do-nothing person on holiday, you should make a special exception for the Canary Island of Lanzarote.

There are few places where you can witness the brutal action of nature that created our planet - but Timanfaya National Park is one of them.

Blackened lava and craters cover a massive area in the south west of Lanzarote, known as Fire Mountains.

A coach takes you on the 14-kilometre ride along Ruta de los Volcanoes with a recorded commentary of what you see.

Descriptions taken from the diaries of a local parish priest, Andres Lorenzo Curbelo, give a chilling insight into the 18th Century eruptions.

They lasted from 1730 to 1736 and created one of the most astonishing legacies of vulcanology.

And there are spectacular experiments that confirm there is a molten mass bubbling just beneath your feet.

Dried grass thrown into a crater blazes in seconds and cold water poured down pipes into underground bowls explodes in a geyser of steam.

In the centre's restaurant you can watch your food being cooked by the natural heat from the volcano.

The camel ride is optional but take my advice - it's b etter to b e sitting on a bad-tempered beast than have the nark behind you chewing your ear. Another natural phenomenon that's a must-see is La Cueva de los Verdes - the Green Caves.

Appropriately-named Annie Moss was our font of knowledge on the exploration of atwo-kilometre passageway - and she made the experience extra special.

Some of the smallest crevices along the underground volcanic tube created some 4000 years ago are just about passable for the fuller figure.

But one of the massive caves is big enough to hold orchestral concerts, and the acoustics are quite fabulous.

Other places of interest worth a visit are the home of world-renowned artist, the late Cesar "Mr Lanzarote" Manrique, the cactus garden and the Sunday market at Teguise.

But, for me, the holiday highlight was taking the helm of a catamaran in full sail as we scudded across the Atlantic Ocean.

We had lunched on the terrace of the superb Amura Restaurante in Puerto Calero before we boarded Catlanza, a 75-foot catamaran which can carry 84 passengers.

The cruise can be as busy or as lazy as you choose but you'd be mad to miss the chance to swim and jet ski when you drop anchor at Papagayo.

If all 416 rooms in the Hotel Iberostar in Costa Calero were occupied you'd still have oceans of space in the pool - there are four of them.

There are also three restaurants, one a la carte, which are spacious with choices to suit everyone.

The other facilities and services include children's playground, gym, sauna, massage, bicycle hire, hairdresser, babysitting and internet access to name a few.

But the beauty treatments deserve special mention, especially the thalassotherapy centre.

Thalasso is Greek for sea, and at the centre you can succumb to such pleasures as a natural seaweed bath and balneotherapy .

But don't dare take every treatment and spend your entire week at the Iberostar, remember Tim anfaya National Park and Catlanza.

DETAILS

SEVEN nights, staying at the four-star Hotel Iberostar Costa Calero in the Puerto Calero area of Puerto del Carmen, based on two adults sharing a twin room on an all-inclusive basis costs from pounds 535 per adult and pounds 253 for a child.

TO make a reservation call Direct Holidays on 0870 191 9082. Alternatively, browse and book online at www.directholidays.co.uk

'Water poured down pipes into underground bowls explodes in a geyser of steam'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:598
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