Malpaís de Güímar

Special Nature Reserve

In the Malpaís landscapes of Güímar, the lava twists and turns into impossible shapes, daring you to keep on looking at it without wondering whether you've somehow slipped into another world. The landscape here is a real biological and geographical gem. This is the gateway to another planet. As you venture out into its three square kilometres (740 acres) of land, you will be able to sense the salty sea air and see one of the most fantastic displays of Canary Island spurge and euphorbia plants in the archipelago. There are other endemic plant species such as the balillo, as well as a great many birds (shrikes, hoopoes and kestrels). Not to mention a variety of lizards scurrying across the stones in search of the sun. A sight that will make a lasting impression is the iconic figure of Montaña Grande, a volcanic mountain with a subdued reddish hue.

The land's inhabitants have made the very most of the varied and valuable resources it has to offer by fishing and collecting shellfish. A traditional fishing method was known as "embarbascado", which consisted in poisoning the water in small pools using the milk of the Canary Island spurge or bitter euphorbia plants to stun the fish.

These same inhabitants would also use take advantage of their proximity to the sea to obtain valuable products such as salt. The salt pans are still perfectly preserved to this day. Years ago, when refrigeration was not an option, they would salt their meat and fish to preserve it.

Municipality: Güímar.

Expanse: 290.3 hectares (717.35 acres).

How to get there:

Accessible from the TF-1, taking the exit signposted as Polígono Industrial de Arafo. Head towards the industrial estate and take a right turn at the first crossroads. Malpaís de Güímar is roughly 1.6 km (1 mile) from there.