In his book Lanzarote, Michel Houellebecq praises the island but states that the island is not ‘able to offer ecotourism’ – but then he never visited Haría, where a unique ecosystem and culture survives. Haría is very different from the Lanzarote most tourists are familiar with. In ‘the valley of 1000 palms’ there are inspiring views, traditional architecture, friendly local people, and fascinating wildlife not to be found elsewhere. In contrast to the desertlike conditions of the rest of Lanzarote, both the village of Haría and the surrounding district of the same name are much greener and richer in biodiversity than elsewhere. Unique and rare flora surviving in a spectacular landscape is one good reason to visit Haría district, but there are plenty of other attractions.
Arrieta: La Garita in is a popular family beach close to shops and restaurants.
Orzola: there are several more isolated, very attractive beaches in the extreme north of the island.
Famara: A spectacular beach which stretches for several kilometers below the cliffs of Haría’s risco.
Playa del Risco: only accessible via steep footpath or by boat, this is the perfect beach for anyone who doesn’t like crowds.
Lanzarote is supposed to have more volcanoes per km2 than anywhere else in the world. It is interesting to contrast Timanfaya, which erupted about 300 years ago, with Corona, which erupted about 3000 years ago, and whose crater dominates the Haría district. It’s possible to walk up to and into the crater.
Official Tourist Attractions
These have all been designed with the architect Cesar Manrique’s trademark features, somehow managing to be both striking and unobtrusive. This is a link to an excellent photographic appreciation of Manrique’s architecture. http://alastairphilipwiper.com/blog/world-cesar-manrique-lanzarote/
The Cactus Garden: an abandoned quarry that had become a rubbish dump was converted to house an impressive collection of cacti and other succulent plants. It is in the centre of the cactus farming district of Guatiza. The ancient tradition of cultivating the cochineal insect which produces the red dye carmine (used for Campari, lipstick etc) has undergone a recent revival as the danger of artificial red dyes has become clear.
Jameos del Agua & Cueva de los Verdes: Although these are separate features they both are part of an extremely long subterranean volcanic tube stretching from the heart of La Corona out into the Atlantic. The Jameos del Agua are built around a section of this tube located at the coast where the roof has collapsed in several sections. It includes an auditorium whose volcanic roof creates excellent acoustics and a natural underground lake featuring the island’s unique tiny blind white crabs. The Cueva de los Verdes takes visitors on a 40-minute walk through some of the more interesting and historic sections of this volcanic tunnel.
Other sections of the tunnel can be accessed (with care) by the more adventurous.
Mirador del Rio: This attractive building, housing a bar and restaurant, is perched high on the cliff-top which faces the island of Graciosa. The view is quite magnificent although we take to visitors on a short walk to the right, where they can have the same view without having to pay for it!
There are too many to list here but a favourite of our guests and ourselves is a 20 minute walk that takes you from Haría village to the cliff-tops overlooking Famara and with a view of the Atlantic on both sides of the island.
Lanzarote and Haría
Lanzarote is unique among the Canary islands – it is well developed in terms of communications and services but has not suffered from the ugly over-development that has blighted some of the other islands. This is mainly thanks to the enthusiasm of Cesar Manrique, a local artist and architect whose sadly Francoist politics we are willing to ignore because of his tireless efforts to preserve the heritage and environment of Lanzarote. For example preventing erection of any billboards or multi-storey buildings outside the main tourist ghettoes (OK, they’re nice places if you like that sort of thing). The tourist attractions he helped to develop are all (we think) tastefully unobtrusive. He built his world-famous house in Tahiche (on a section of the world’s longest terrestrial lava flow) but moved to Haría a couple of years after we arrived here, building a home in the next street from Calle la Cañada and living there till he died a decade ago. Manrique shared our view that Haría is one of the most agreeable places on the island to live in. We also appreciate the way local people manage to combine a friendly and welcoming attitude with a respect for privacy and an easy tolerance for individual variations – for example Haría was the first district council in Spain to officially recognise gay relationships.
Do you need a car whilst staying in Haria?
The simple answer to this is no but as with everything in life it depends upon what you are prepared to do to get what you want.
I will describe what my wife and I managed to do in the four weeks we were staying at David’s place in Haria. We could not have done many of the things we did without access to the following:
Having done some reading before we arrived we wanted to visit the following:
We caught the 9.04 No 7 bus to Arricife at the bus stop behind the church at the end of the plaza. We got off at Punta de Mujeres. The bus drivers are very helpful but we found that it was useful to have our destination written down just in case we could not pronounce the name correctly. It takes less than ten minutes to get to Punta de Mujeres. We then walked to Jameos del Aqua where we purchased a three centre ticket for 20 Euros. This ticket was valid for two weeks and allowed us entry to all three of a-c above. After visiting Jameos del Aqua we walked the 1 km to Cueva de los Verdes. We then did the return walk to the bus stop in Punta de Mujeres and caught the bus back to Haria. We could have gone from Punta de Mujeres to the cactus gardens on the no7 to Arrecife but as we were here for 4 weeks we had no reason to rush. On a separate day we did get the no 7 from Haria to the cactus gardens and returned just after lunch.
We found getting to:
..was an absolute breeze using the reliable no 7.We were fortunate that we could do each of these trips on a separate day but if you are pushed for time then you could combine 1 and 2.
It is true to say that we couldn’t get to all our places of interest by bus or walking and so at times we booked a taxi. We found the taxi company we used extremely helpful and reliable. David’s place is not the easiest of destinations to find for people who don’t know their way around Haria and so we arranged to meet the taxi near the same place we caught the no 7 i.e. behind the church.
Island of Graciosa: We booked a taxi to get us to Orzola in time for us to catch the first ferry to Graciosa. We made arrangements for the taxi to meet us on our return from Graciosa. We had a brilliant day and everything was on time. It was by far our most expensive day of our stay but well worth it.
We got a taxi to the church at Ye and then walked to the top of Monte Corona and returned to Haria via Maguez.
We did walk 2 in the book Risco de Famara by getting a taxi to the bus stop Las Casillas and then walking back again via Maguez.
We did walk 8 Haria-Restaurante Los Helechos-Ermita de las Nieves – Teguise returning to Haria by bus.
As David points out there are many walks around Haria and not one of these needs transport of any kind—just a little bit of imagination.
We found that Haria had everything we needed in terms of food. The indoor market is very well stocked even with fresh meat and he three small supermarkets provide you with all your basics. We did eat at the restaurant opposite the stage on the square. We found this good value for money but it does close at 8 pm.
My wife is 60 and I am 66 and we do lead active lives back in the UK but we are not super athletic. I had a hip replacement in 2007 and so I have to be very careful not to push things too hard but honestly not only were we able to do the walks etc but also we were able to enjoy them and I am sure that if you attempt them you will think the same. Finally walking on tarmac road in Lanzarote is much safer than walking on a similar road back in the UK.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Haria as much as we have done.
I’m not immune to flattery and love it when fellow gardeners and botanists say nice things about my garden, but nothing delights me more than appreciative kids.
A lot of the features in my garden were made with my own kid in mind and, as he’s grown up, it’s gratifying to see other kids having the same fun as he did at that age. Too often, however, visitors come with children who aren’t satisfied with the ten-minute tour and beg to stay and play. Last time that happened a friends grandchildren made me glow with pride by spontaneously declaring, “David, we love your garden - it’s a magic garden! Dad, do we have to go now ?” Then, as is frequently the case, Dad said indeed they must hurry. I was as disappointed as they were!
Psychologists tell us that play is as important as learning for a child's development. IN my teaching career I’ve worked at schools with students from a huge range of cultural backgrounds; this has given me a fascinating opportunity to distinguish between types of play which seem instinctive, common to kids of all nationalities, and those games which differ and are clearly learnt (like the child's language). A garden which caters to child's natural instinct to play may well be more appreciated (and considerably cheaper!) than one full of expensive toys.
Once again my lodger Guillermo Rodriguez (see www.guillermorodriguez.com) has provided the accompanying photos - his delightful niece Lua is responsible for the smiles.
Jacuzzis and Pools
One controversial account of human evolution suggests that our distant ancestors survived Millenia of African drought by exploiting the warm food-rich coastal waters as ‘aquatic apes’ - Googling those words will provide you with a lot of links to a fascinating theory which explains why humans differ from other apes in so many ways (e.g. our lack of body hair and the ability to sweat). The behaviour of little babies provides further evidence for this theory: when submerged. they stay calm and instinctively hold their breath till they surface - something memorably illustrated on the cover of Nirvana's famous album Nevermind (Google that too if you don't know what I‘m talking about). Whatever the explanation, nobody would deny that kids love getting in the water. For most readers with kids. the beach probably hits that spot - away from the coast up here in Haria village. a jacuzzi has been a popular addition to the garden.
Kids of Lua's age love the jacuzzi and my now 17 year-old son has had some highly popular jacuzzi parties. possibly too popular ……
My king-size tub and its gazebo are probably the most extravagant purchases I've ever made. My wife sometimes wondered If the money might not have been better invested in our pension fund, but as time goes by the soothing effect of those pulsating water jets on our ageing joints is increasingly appreciated by us both. If I'd had a bit more space and cash l might have gone for a pool instead—l'm glad I didn't. I know a pool is considered essential for holiday rentals but most pool owners I know complain how expensive and time consuming they are to maintain, a big jacuzzi is a lot easier to run — and. at least in winter, gets a lot more use than a pool would.
Just as I've never met a baby that didn't enjoy peek- a-boo. I've never known an older kid that didn't love to play tag and hide-and-seek. Its easy to speculate how playing such games taught our ancestors skills in their youth which were once essential to their survival as adults. Life may be less tough nowadays, but the instinct for such types of play remains and can be a source of enormous fun. Most parents would love to see their kids spend less time in front of screens. but it's little use telling them to go outside and play if ‘outside' is unsuited to the sort of activities they instinctively like. Fortunately. many of the complexes on the island are thoughtfully designed and great fun for kids.
I love the twisting paths and surprising little corners that are a feature of Manrique's architecture and have shamelessly tried to copy some of his ideas. By doing so I‘ve made somewhere that most children love to run about and play in.
One thing to avoid is a child charging into a spiky cactus plant. After this happened to my kid (I shudder to recall that accident, it could have been a lot worse!) I moved all of my cacti together into one raised area and make sure that any eye-level spikes are carefully removed.
The Frog Pond
Hunting and gathering has fed us humans long before agriculture was invented, so it's not surprising that children's games can instinctively mirror these activities. Most little kids who visit my pond want to play frog-hunter. a game that can last a long time as the frogs don't stay caught for long!
A few kids have fallen into the pond while trying to catch a frog - they've come to no harm. but visiting birds make it impossible to guarantee that such a pond is free of harmful bugs. so too much splashing around is discouraged.
The Garden Instinct
l lost the desire to play tag long a go but new urges kick in to replace those of our youth. Making a garden, especially a child-friendly one, is one middle-aged instinct that | find ever more rewarding to indulge.