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Travel blog aimed at mature, independent travellers who like to plan their own holidays. The blog is based on our own travels and walking holidays in beautiful places such as Iceland, The Azores and Peru, and contains accounts of our experiences, advice, links to resources and lots of photography.
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Submitting Photos to Microstock Agencies – An Update

An update on my experience of submitting images to microstock agencies for sale The post Submitting Photos to Microstock Agencies – An Update appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.

It has been a few months now since I wrote about nervously submitting my first travel photos to microstock agencies (see Selling Your Travel Photos).  So I thought it was time for an update to let you know how I am getting on and what I have learned so far.

All of the images in this post have sold at least once.

Mountains near Scuol, Switzerland

Mountains near Scuol, Switzerland

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is by far my biggest success, both in terms of the number of images sold and the income earned.  I reached the threshold for my first payout of $50.00, and am now well on the way to the next.

At first, the earnings seemed trivial.  The standard rate for each download from people who have a subscription is only $0.25.  So you would need an awful lot of downloads to make a significant amount.

But then a couple of people purchased images with enhanced licences.  One of these paid over $20.00 (see Mountains near Scuol, Switzerland, above), and one over $12.00 (see Footpath with dappled sunlight, below).   These are far more worthwhile, and they encouraged me to submit many more images.  Obviously the more you have on file, the more likely you are to make sales. (Though of course the subject matter and quality of the images are critically important factors).

Footpath with dappled sunlight near York, England

Footpath with dappled sunlight near York, England

I now have over 450 images on Shutterstock, and am submitting more on a regular basis.   If you would like to see all the images I have submitted click My Portfolio.

I am looking forward to the day when I reach total sales of $500 because the standard rate then increases from $0.25 to $0.33.  But I have a long way to go yet….



Other Microstock Agencies

As long as you submit your photos on a non-exclusive basis, you are free to submit them to as many agencies as you wish, thereby increasing opportunities for sales.  As well as Shutterstock, I submit photos to Bigstock, 123RF, Dreamstime and Adobe.

There have been sales with all four agencies, but none have yet reached the payment threshold.  Although it is time-consuming, I definitely feel it is worth submitting to multiple agencies to increase exposure.  They will all reach the payment threshold in time, and as more images are submitted sales should increase.

Photos sold through Bigstock pay the same rate as Shutterstock (for subscriptions), while those with Dreamstime and Adobe pay more, and 123RF seems to have various rates.

 

Royalty Free Stock Images

 

If you choose to submit images to Adobe, be prepared for a lot of rejections, because they are very choosy about which images they accept.  My acceptance rate has been over 90% with each of the other agencies, but less than 50% with Adobe.  At least it is satisfying when an image is accepted (and even more so when one sells!)

Ancient horse chestnut tree trunk at Ripley, North Yorkshire

Ancient horse chestnut tree trunk at Ripley, North Yorkshire – sold through Adobe

 

Clickasnap

Clickasnap, a site I recently discovered, is different.  Unlike the microstock agencies above, with Clickasnap you are paid each time someone views your photo (for at least 5 seconds).  The amount you get paid per view is tiny (currently $0.0014), but over time these tiny amounts add up, especially if your photos are popular.

You can join for free and upload a limited number of photos to the site each week.  Or you can have a paid account which allows you unlimited uploads.

The great advantage of having a paid seller account is that you can also sell your images as digital downloads, prints, wall displays and various gifts.   You choose which products you wish to offer for any image, and set your own price.

To see how this looks, just click on any of the clickable images on this page.

 

Approaching Carcassonne, France

Approaching Carcassonne, France

I am in the process of linking various images on Self Arranged Journeys, Twitter and Tumblr to the corresponding images on Clickasnap.   Then anyone interested in downloading the image or purchasing a product can click straight through.  I haven’t made any sales yet, but hopefully will in the future.

Fern silhouetted against the sky at twilight

Fern silhouetted against the sky at twilight

Clickasnap also has a very friendly and supportive community of users, whether you are a professional or just a hobby photographer.  I really enjoy looking at the great photos posted by other members, and seeing their comments about mine.  Its a great site.

Arolla pine trees, Switzerland

Arolla pine trees, Switzerland

What Sells Best

From reading other people’s articles and posts, I believe the best selling photos are ones of interesting people doing interesting things.  Which is unfortunate because my photos tend not to include people.  I like to photograph landscapes, trees and flowers, all of which are a bit over-represented in the microstock agencies.  Therefore competition is stiff, and photos need to be either unusual or very high quality to get noticed.  I am not a trained photographer, and do not have expensive equipment, so I try to take photos that are a bit different.

Mountains at Machu Picchu, Peru, seen from above the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel

Mountains at Machu Picchu, Peru, seen from above the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel

 

The photos that have sold best for me have been of very specific locations, or locations that not many people visit (therefore reducing the competition).  Thus if someone searches for images of ‘Paris’, they will get thousands of results, and the chances of them finding one of mine are very low.  But if they search for images of ‘Corvo, The Azores’, the choice would be much less.

Vila Nova and airstrip, Corvo, The Azores

Vila Nova with its tiny airstrip on the island of Corvo, The Azores

 

Often I have been surprised by which images have sold, and which have not (at least so far).   I was amazed when the photo below of a grassy path beside an old canal in Yorkshire was accepted by Adobe.  And even more amazed when it sold.

Path by Pocklington Canal, Yorkshire, England

Path by Pocklington Canal, Yorkshire, England

 

Similarly I felt the photo below of Praia on Graciosa Island, The Azores, was not very special, and almost didn’t bother to submit it.  But it has sold four times through Shutterstock!

Sailing boat at Praia on Graciosa island, The Azores

Sailing boat at Praia on Graciosa island, The Azores

So my philosophy is that there is no harm in submitting any photo that is half decent and doesn’t contain recognisable people, logos or trademarks.  There is always a chance that it will be accepted, and a chance that it will sell.



 

More Thoughts and Observations

 

  • Describing and tagging your photos is very important.  Agencies have literally millions of images, and you want people to find yours from the search terms they use.  For the photo above the obvious tags are Praia, Graciosa and Azores, but I would also use boat, sailing boat, yacht, sea, ocean, coast, cliffs, white houses, fields, hedges, grass, hill ……. and any others that come to mind.
  • If you have a lot of images, you may be surprised at how long it takes submitting them – especially if you are using several agencies.  Just try to submit a small batch every few days – it is better to submit on a regular basis.
  • Be specific with locations.  If possible don’t just put ‘mountain in Scotland’ – include the actual name of the mountain.  Buyers are often looking for a very specific location and are unlikely to find your photo unless the name of this location is included.
  • Be patient.  Sometimes I go for days without selling any images at all, and it is easy to get despondent.  But then several will sell in one day.
  • Don’t expect to get rich.  Unless you are a very good photographer with a large quantity of images, the money you earn from microstock agencies is likely to be a small but useful supplement to your other income.
  • Don’t over-process your images.  Buyers prefer to process images themselves to suit their requirements.  By over-processing you will lose a lot of the original data and limit the options of the buyer.  So even if you feel you can make an image look better, try to reduce cropping, sharpening and colour correction to a minimum.
Iberian wall lizard, Cabo de Gata, Spain

Iberian wall lizard, Cabo de Gata, Spain

My main thought is that it costs you nothing except a bit of time to submit your images to agencies.  I find it is really satisfying each time one is downloaded, and any income received is always welcome.  I am hoping the income will increase as the number of imaged I have on file increases, and hopefully (now I have a better camera) my skills as a photographer will improve.

Why not have a critical look through your collection of photos and see if any would be worth a try.  You might just be surprised……..



 

 

The post Submitting Photos to Microstock Agencies – An Update appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.



Visiting the Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Visiting the fascinating volcanic landscapes in the Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote The post Visiting the Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.

 

If you are interested in volcanic landscapes you will love the Canarian island of Lanzarote.  Large areas of the island are covered with recent lava flows.  There are long stretches of stark, black coastline, impressive lava tubes, and no less than 151 volcanic peaks!

Volcanic peaks in the Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Typical stark landscape and volcanic peaks in the Timanfaya National Park

Volcanic coast and Atlantic waves near El Golfo, Lanzarote

Black volcanic coast and Atlantic waves near El Golfo

Recent and older lava flows near El Golfo, Lanzarote

Recent bare lava flow in front of older colonized lava

The Timanfaya National Park is the area of Lanzarote which has seen the most recent volcanic activity.  Access to much of the park is limited to protect this important and delicate environment.  Recent lava flows (from 200 to 300 years ago) are being very slowly colonized by lichens, plants and insects – a process which could so easily be disturbed.

Plant growing amongst black lava, Lanzarote

Plant growing amongst the black lava

Timanfaya National Park Visitor Centres

There are, however, several ways to visit the park.  Following Route 67 west from Tinajo, you will find a very informative Visitor Centre on the right after passing Mancha Blanca.  Here there are interesting displays about the history, geology and ecology of the park, and regular audiovisual presentations.  These are usually in Spanish, but you can use earphones to listen in English, French or German (either buy them in the excellent visitor shop or take your own).

The centre also has an outdoor raised walkway where you can get a close look at the lava, and the plants and lichens that are colonizing it.

Rust coloured lichens growing on lava, Lanzarote

Rust coloured lichens and plants growing on the lava

Further along Route 67 there is a second visitor centre where you can join a coach tour through the volcanic landscape.   Be aware that this is popular and can be very busy.

And further along still there is another site where you can take a camel ride into the park.  Camels have been on the island for many years, and in the past were used for transporting agricultural produce, but are now a major tourist attraction.

Guided Tour

Another option, which we chose, is to book a guided tour which takes you into the Timanfaya National Park.

A number of tours are available.  We chose the 3-Volcanoes Guided Walking Tour which we booked through Viator, and we really enjoyed it.



We were picked up in the morning at our hotel and driven with a small group to the park.  The tour then involved three separate walks to explore three very different volcanoes.

La Rilla

First was a gentle climb to the crater rim of La Rilla, on a well constructed path (not too steep).

Path in the Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Path to La Rilla crater

Group tour at the Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

The views here are terrific.  You can see volcanic craters which have clearly collapsed, and the resulting lava which has flowed out.

Collapsed volcanic crater and lava, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Collapsed volcanic crater and resulting lava flow

The landscape is strikingly bare, but still strangely beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Barren landscape dotted with occasional plants

When you reach the crater rim of La Rilla, you can see into the impressive crater.  There is a dome of cooled lava at the bottom, and volcanic “spatter” on the sides where lava fountains have landed on the crater wall.

La Rilla crater, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Inside the crater of La Rilla

Crater rim

On the crater rim

Although predominantly bare, there are plants growing in the area.  Recent rainfall resulted in there being more greenery and flowers than usual when we visited, which was a pleasure to see.

Montana Colarada

The second volcano the tour visits is the strikingly red Montana Colarada.

Montana Colarada, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Montana Colorada

The red colour is caused by iron oxidation.  The tour follows a section of a path around the base of the volcano, where there are several information boards.

Another interesting feature is an enormous volcanic bomb.  There is mystery as to how such a large bomb was produced, as none of the surrounding volcanoes should have been powerful enough.

Volcanic bomb, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Matt standing beside the huge volcanic bomb

Volcanic bomb, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Source of the volcanic bomb?

Volcan del Cuervo

The third volcano visited on the tour is Volcan del Cuervo.  Here you actually walk into the collapsed crater to explore the inside.

Inside the crater of Volcan del Cuervo, Lanzarote

Inside the crater of Volcan del Cuervo

It is fascinating seeing the different colours and textures inside the crater.  And we were also lucky enough to see (and hear) a rare barbary falcon which nests in the crater.

If you have any interest at all in volcanoes we highly recommend this tour.

Although we have been to several other volcanic destinations (see our posts on the Aeolian Islands, Iceland and The Azores), we still learned a lot of new things about volcanoes.  The guides were really enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Practicalities

The tour we chose was the  3-Volcanoes Guided Walking Tour.  The tour included being picked up and dropped off at our hotel, all transport, English-speaking guides and an excellent light lunch.  The total length of the tour, including journey time, was around 6 hours.

The tour did of course involve quite a lot of walking.  There were no steep or difficult slopes, but the loose grit and stones make it quite tiring and rough on the feet, so you need suitable footwear.  Also remember that the park can be quite windy and cold, so even if it is warm at the coast do take a jumper or jacket to cover up if necessary.

For other tours in the Timanfaya National Park click here.

For all Lanzarote tours available through Viator click here.

To search for accommodation in Lanzarote see this page at booking.com.

To read about some great places to visit independently see our earlier post on Lanzarote.

For some great walks see our earlier posts on Gentle Walks in Lanzarote and A Day Trip to La Graciosa.

The post Visiting the Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.



La Graciosa in the Canary Islands – A Day Trip from Lanzarote

If you like peace and solitude, you will enjoy exploring La Graciosa, a small island easily reached by ferry from Lanzarote The post La Graciosa in the Canary Islands – A Day Trip from Lanzarote appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.

 

If you are staying in Lanzarote and fancy exploring a remote, sparsely populated island, try visiting La Graciosa.  It has a pleasant little port, a beautiful, quiet shoreline, interesting volcanic hills and lots of solitude.

La Graciosa, Canary islands

La Graciosa seen from Lanzarote

Caleta del Sebo, La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Caleta del Sebo – the main settlement on the island

 

Getting to La Graciosa

Regular daily ferries travel to La Graciosa from Orzola, which is on the north east coast of Lanzarote.  Orzola is a pleasant little town surrounded by fascinating volcanic shores.  Read more in our previous post A Week in Arrecife – Exploring Lanzarote by Bus.

There is plenty of parking in Orzola, or it can easily be reached by bus (for timetables see arrecifebus.com – line 09).

 

Ferry from Lanzarote to La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Ferry arriving at Orzola

 

The regular ferries are run by two companies.  You can check the times at Direct Ferries, and buy your tickets online in advance if you wish.  There are also ticket offices close to the boarding area.  Be warned that the journey is frequently quite rough.  If you are prone to sea sickness you may wish to avoid windy days!

Ferries to and from La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Ferries coming and going

 

You get great views of the coast from the ferry, including these two impressive rocks which look like sea stacks from a distance, but are actually on a shallow spit of land from Lanzarote.

Rocks on the coast of Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Rocks on the coast of Lanzarote

Staying on La Graciosa

If you fancy staying on La Graciosa for a night or two, and experiencing true solitude when the day-trippers have left, there are a few simple apartments and holiday homes available.   See this page at booking.com for options.  Evenings here must be truly magical!

A Circular Walk

A great way to explore this quiet island is with a circular walk which goes along the coast to Caleto de Pedro Barba, and then returns on a dirt track which skirts the island’s volcanic hills.  This walk is a variant of Walk 1 in the Landscapes Guide Lanzarote: Car Tours and Walks.

Before you set off buy some refreshments to take with you in one of the shops near the port (there are no options for buying food on the walk).  The walk is easy apart from a short, eroded section along some low cliffs.  It takes 3-4 hours, depending on how long you spend taking photos and exploring the coast.

To pick up the path, head east through Caleta del Sebo, the pleasant village around the port.  When you reach the very edge of the village you will find the path, neatly lined with stones, heading off along the shore.

The shoreline is a mixture of dunes, black lava and small sandy beaches.  There are great views to Caleto de Pedro Barba, the walk’s destination, and also across to the ocean to the cliffs on Lanzarote.

Coast of La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Along the coastal path – you can see Caleta de Pedro Barba in the distance

Volcanic shore of La Graciosa with a view of Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Black volcanic beach and view of Lanzarote

Take Care on the Cliffs

The walking is easy until you reach a short stretch of cliffs just before Caleta de Pedro Barba.  Here the path climbs a little, and some of the ground is quite eroded.  I found it a little unnerving (I am never comfortable on loose unstable slopes).   But then a party of triathlon contestants went running past us…..

Sandy beach on La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Sandy beach with the start of the cliffs behind. You can see the path along the cliff.

Caleta de Pedro Barba

Needless to say, we did get to Caleta de Pedro Barba safely.  If you are not happy on this section, just return the way you came.  You can then enjoy the coast in both directions.

If you do reach Caleta de Pedro Barba, it is a delight.  It consists of a tiny collection of well kept white dwellings with agave plants and palm trees.  The sense of remoteness and peace make it a special to be.  There is also a tiny harbour – a great place to enjoy your lunch.

Caleta de Pedro Barba, La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Caleta de Pedro Barba

Caleta de Pedro Barba, La Graciosa, with a view of Lanzarote

Looking back at Caleta de Pedro Barba and over the sea to Lanzarote

Volcanic Hills

After enjoying this remote spot, you can pick up the obvious surfaced track which connects Caleta de Pedro Barba with Caleta de Sebo.  This is easy to follow, and rises gently to take you back at a higher level.  There are excellent views over the coast, and the track skirts the island’s volcanic hills.  Apart from a very occasional vehicle and a few cyclists you may well have the track to yourselves.

Dirt road on La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Empty track heading towards the volcanic hills

 

After passing the volcanic hills in the photo above you come to a fine view of Agujas Grandes, which is the highest point on the island.  This is a very unusual volcano, with colourful rock strata creating interesting patterns.

Agujas Grandes volcano, La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Agujas Grandes – a very unusual volcano

Eventually you come to a major crossing point with footpath signs.  Here turn left to return easily to Caleta del Sebo, where you catch the ferry back to Lanzarote.

 

Harbour at Caleto del Sebo, La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Boats in the harbour at Caleto del Sebo

If you enjoy peace and solitude, and exploring remote but accessible places, you will surely enjoy visiting this unspoiled island.

 

A Little Note About Litter

It is sad to say that even on this remote coast we found discarded plastic bottles, like the one being retrieved by Matt below.  Please, please take your litter home with you to be discarded of properly.  And if you possibly can, why not take any that you spot on the way.  Of course it is annoying that it has been left by someone else, but if you leave it it will just remain in the environment, and may well cause harm to some creature one day.

Retrieving a discarded plastic bottle on the shore, La Graciosa, Canary Islands

Matt retrieving a discarded plastic bottle on the shore

Please be aware that this site is based purely on our own experiences; therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.

 

The post La Graciosa in the Canary Islands – A Day Trip from Lanzarote appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.



Three Gentle Walks in Lanzarote – Exploring the Unspoilt Coast and Volcanic Landscapes

Three recommended gentle walks to explore the fascinating landscapes on the volcanic island of Lanzarote The post Three Gentle Walks in Lanzarote – Exploring the Unspoilt Coast and Volcanic Landscapes appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.

There is so much more to Lanzarote than its beach resorts. If you enjoy walking along wild, undeveloped coasts and exploring other-worldly volcanic landscapes, you will love this small island.

Vineyard and volcano, Lanzarote

Vineyard and volcano near San Bartolome

Matt and I have just returned from a two week trip.  Apart from a few very windy days and one complete write-off due to rain and fog, we found February to be a good time for walking.  The temperatures were manageable, and the usual early morning cloud and mist frequently gave way to pleasant clear days.

Volcanic shore and cliffs near Orzola, Lanzarote

Volcanic shore and cliffs near Orzola

Resources

For an excellent guide to walking on the island, whether using a hire car or public transport, we recommended the Landscapes Guide Lanzarote: Car Tours and Walks. Don’t worry if some of the walks sound a little daunting to you – many have shorter alternatives which are also described.

 Another good walking book is the Discovery Walking Guide Walk Lanzarote, and for a useful map see the Lanzarote Tour and Trail Super-Durable Map.

For bus timetables on the island see arrecifebus.com, and for more information about using the island’s excellent bus services see our previous post on Arrecife and Exploring Lanzarote by Bus.

If you prefer to hire a car we recommend Sixt for their friendly and efficient service.

Here are three relatively gentle introductory walks that we really enjoyed.

Maguez

For a great introduction to the volcanic features of the island, there is a lovely walk that starts in the small town of Maguez.  If you don’t have a car you can easily get to Maguez using bus line 07 (timetable).  For full route details see the Landscapes Guide Lanzarote: Car Tours and Walks – Walk 6.  The walk takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on whether or not you take the optional detour to a trig point.

Los Helechos volcano, Lanzarote

Los Helechos volcano, Lanzarote

The walk is easy to follow and forms a large loop.  It is part of a UNESCO geopark, and there are information boards at frequent intervals telling you about the geology, ecology and agriculture in the area.

To find the start, head uphill from the bus stop in Maguez (towards Guinate) and after just over 300 m fork left up a narrow uphill lane.  Keep on this main track uphill, reading the information boards as you go.  There are interesting plants and flowers beside the track, and later on great views of a crater – La Caldera.

La Caldera crater, Lanzarote

La Caldera crater

When you reach a white meteorological station you have the option of taking a detour to a trig point on Los Helechos volcano for fantastic views.  Whether or not you visit the trig point, there are more superb views over the sea to La Graciosa island as you continue on the circuit, which descends gently to a road.

View to La Graciosa island from Lanzarote

View to the ocean and La Graciosa island. You can see black volcanic soil prepared for cultivation

When you reach the road turn right.  This takes you to a more major road, which you cross straight over.  Here you pick up another track which takes you easily back to Maguez.

Los Helechos volcano, Lanzarote

View of Los Helechos from the road



El Golfo

If you enjoy watching massive waves smashing into a wild and unspoilt coastline, you will love the area around El Golfo.  At high tide on a windy day it can be truly spectacular – be prepared for lots of spray!

Waves hitting the volcanic shore near El Golfo, Lanzarote

Atlantic waves meeting the volcanic shore near El Golfo on a wild and windy day

It is not only the waves that are spectacular.  The coast here consists of relatively recent lava which flowed to the sea, and is almost entirely black.

Black volcanic coast near El Golfo, Lanzarote

Waves approaching the spectacular black volcanic coastline

To reach El Golfo you either need a car, or to arrange a taxi to drop you off and pick you up again later in the day (make sure you allow plenty of time for taking photos!).  If you do have a car there is ample parking just before you enter the village – it is better to park here than to try to park actually inside the village, which can get congested.

El Golfo is popular with coach tours and day trippers, so there are loads of restaurants in the village.  Although the village sometimes gets very busy, you can quickly leave the crowds behind by walking along the coastline.  There is a great circular walk which takes around 2.5 hours (or longer if you like taking photos) – see the Landscapes Guide Lanzarote: Car Tours and Walks – Walk 29.

Rock arch in the black volcanic coast near El Golfo, Lanzarote

Rock arch in the black lava

The first part of the walk involves picking up the obvious coastal path which starts at the north-east end of the village.  The path, which leads through stark black lava, is uneven and sometimes not too clear.   So although it is tempting to watch the waves, you need to concentrate on where you are putting your feet.  It is important not to leave the path because there are many lava tubes in the area, some of which have a thin crust which could give way.

View to El Golfo, Lanzarote

Looking back at El Golfo

You will eventually meet a broad track at a T-junction, where you should turn right.  You then follow a loop through a fascinating volcanic landscape, where you can see various stages of colonization of the lava by plants.  Do not leave the track as this sensitive ecosystem is easily damaged.

Plant growing amongst black lava, Lanzarote

Plant growing amongst the black lava

Lava being colonized by plants near El Golfo, Lanzarote

Gradual colonization by plants

After passing a couple of large houses and some rather unusual white gateposts, turn right to return to El Golfo.

Charco de los Clicos

Whilst at El Golfo, it is worth visiting a viewpoint above an unusual lagoon, Charco de los Clicos.  This is reached via an obvious roped path from the car park just before entering El Golfo.  It is only 200 m or so, gently uphill, but it can be busy.

Charco de los Clicos lagoon, El Golfo, Lanzarote

Charco de los Clicos lagoon

The water of Charco de los Clicos is coloured green by algae.  To us, though, it was the setting which was spectacular.  The lagoon is situated in a collapsed volcanic crater, one side of which has been invaded by the sea.  You can really see the volcanic features on the inside of the crater, with vivid red oxidised material and volcanic “spatter”, where lava fountains have landed on the crater wall.

The colourful crater wall at Charcos de los Clicos, Lanzarote

The colourful crater wall at Charcos de los Clicos

There is also a great view from here of the black volcanic beach and coastline to the west of El Golfo.

Black volcanic coast at El Golfo, Lanzarote

Boats on the black volcanic beach


TourRadar

Haria

A super walk from the attractive town of Haria takes you to two great viewpoints, and involves a relatively easy climb through an attractive vegetated barranco (ravine).  We found this walk on the excellent website the Happy Hiker – see Haria to El Bosquecillo.

Haria is a very attractive town surrounded by palm trees.  If using public transport it is easily reached by bus line 07 (timetable).  La Plaza bus stop is the most convenient stop to get off, and then head for Plaza de la Constitucion to start the walk.

Palm trees near Haria, Lanzarote

Palm trees near Haria

Haria, Lanzarote

Looking back on Haria from the

The route is well described on the Happy Hiker website mentioned above.  In addition to the great coastal views, you should see many wild flowers on the walk as well as birds and possibly lizards.

Here are some more of our photos from the walk.

Playa de Famara, Lanzarote

View over Playa de Famara from the first viewpoint on the walk

Barranco near Haria, Lanzarote

Looking down the barranco

View of La Graciosa and other islands from El Bosquecillo, Lanzarote

View of La Graciosa and other islands from the mirador at El Bosquecillo

These are just three suggestions from the many walks that can be done on the island.  See the books mentioned above and the Happy Hiker website for loads more ideas.

Also check out our other posts about a day trip to La Graciosa including a great walk on this remote island, and a fascinating walking tour of volcanoes around the Timanfaya National Park.

If you want to do more than lie on a beach, you will surely enjoy exploring this fascinating and highly unusual island.

Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences – therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.

The post Three Gentle Walks in Lanzarote – Exploring the Unspoilt Coast and Volcanic Landscapes appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.



A Week in Arrecife – Exploring Lanzarote by Bus

Arrecife is a great base for exploring the fascinating volcanic island of Lanzarote The post A Week in Arrecife – Exploring Lanzarote by Bus appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.

Arrecife, Lanzarote

Arrecife – the tall building is the Gran Hotel

Most people arriving in Lanzarote pass through Arrecife Airport and head straight for one of the island’s beach resorts. But if beach holidays are not your thing, and you prefer instead to explore this fascinating volcanic island, Arrecife makes a great base. It has good hotels and restaurants, some small but interesting museums, a pleasant seafront and beach, a modern marina and port, and a lovely natural lagoon. But most importantly you can get buses from here to almost all parts of the island, making it easy to explore Lanzarote without hiring a car.

Where to Stay in Arrecife

We stayed in the mid-priced Hotel Miramar, and were really happy with it.

Hotel Miramar, Arrecife, Lanzarote

Hotel Miramar

The hotel is situated directly opposite the Castillo de San Gabriel and the sea walls which are great for an evening stroll. It is definitely worth paying a little extra to have a room overlooking the castle and sea.

Harbour Walls and Castillo de San Gabriel, Arrecife, Lanzarote

View from hotel balcony

If you are lucky you can see great sunsets from the sea walls.

Sunset at Arrecife, Lanzarote

Sunset from the sea walls opposite Hotel Miramar

The Miramar is also close to the lagoon where there are many restaurants (see below).

Other good choices would be the Hotel Lancelot, or if you wish to splash out, the Gran Hotel which has a restaurant and cafe bar with amazing views (see Where to Eat below).

For more choices of hotels and apartments follow this link to booking.com.

Where to Eat in Arrecife

We wasted the first evening of our stay wandering around the seafront and town centre unable to find a decent restaurant. There are actually many great places to eat in Arrecife, but you need to know where to look. Here are our suggestions.

The Lagoon

The Avenida Cesar Manrique which adjoins the natural lagoon is a great place to head. Here there is a varied choice of restaurants and tapas bars, many with outdoor seating overlooking the lovely natural lagoon.

Natural lagoon in Arrecife, Lanzarote

Boats on the tranquil lagoon

Our favourites were Divina Italian El Charco and Restaurante Cala by Luis Leon for excellent casual outdoor dining. For a more formal meal with superb food, we highly recommend La Puntilla – a small but special place.

The Gran Hotel

Whether you go for a full extravagant meal in the elegant restaurant or a coffee and cake in the bistro bar, you should visit the Gran Hotel at least once. From its 17th floor restaurants you get amazing views over Arrecife and the surrounding countryside and coast.

And the food is very good!

View over the beach at Arrecife, Lanzarote

View from the 17th floor Bistro and Cafe Bar

Castillo de San Jose

The Castillo de San Jose houses the excellent Contemporary Art Museum (see Things to Do below).  It also has the great QueMUAC cafe bar which opens as an evening restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays. It is a relaxed, spacious, atmospheric place with great views of the port. The food, service and ambience made this a very special evening and we highly recommend it.

View from the Castillo de San Jose restaurant

The Castillo is a little way out of the town, but easily walkable on a nice evening (there are street lights all the way). We enjoyed the walk, which took about half an hour, but you could easily get a taxi if you prefer.  If you have a hire car there is a large car park.

The Marina

We didn’t eat here, preferring the ambience of the lagoon, but the modern marina is lined with a variety of restaurants. Choices include Italian, Asian, tapas and fast food – for a list of restaurants follow this link.

Marina, Arreciffe, Lanzarote

Sailing boats in the marina

Chef Nizar

This little Lebanese restaurant is a hidden gem in a side street just east of the Gran Hotel (Calle Luis Morote).  We have seen reviews criticising this place for not serving 100% authentic Lebanese food.  Personally we think that if the food is good  that is all that matters.

Things to Do in Arrecife

Museum of History

An interesting small museum situated in the beautifully converted Castillo de San Gabriel situated on the harbour walls.

History Museum in the Castillo de San Gabriel, Arrecife, Lanzarote

History Museum in the Castillo de San Gabriel

The displays are unfortunately labeled in Spanish only, but most are easy enough to interpret and the atmospheric building alone makes the visit worthwhile.

Museum of Contemporary Art

A small but excellent contemporary art museum housed in the beautifully converted Castillo de San Jose.  Also has a great restaurant/cafe bar (see Where to Eat above).  Definitely worth the easy walk from town (but also has a large car park if you have a hire car).

Contemporary Art Museum

Inside the museum

Playa del Reducto Beach

If you do want to spend a day or two on the beach, Arrecife has the lovely clean Playa del Reducto (see photo taken from the Gran Hotel above).  It has showers, lifeguards, adjacent rock pools and plenty of nearby cafes.

Exploring Lanzarote by Bus

There are excellent bus services from Arrecife, and we found them to be very efficient and reliable.  (In fact a couple of buses we used left a little before time so it is worth being early).

Note that most buses leave from the central Estacion de Guaguas – this is a different bus station to where the airport buses drop off.   The Estacion de Guaguas is quite a walk from the seafront hotels (and not a particularly attractive one – though it does pass a few supermarkets so you can buy your picnic for the day).  If you don’t want to walk there are a couple of circular routes that link the two bus stations with the seafront, central Arrecife, the airport and Playa Honda (Lines 21 and 23).

Central Bus Station, Arrecife, Lanzarote

Central Bus Station (Estacion de Guaguas)

For all the services from Arrecife, including routes and timetables, see arrecifebus.com.

Excursions from Arrecife

Jardin de Cactus

(Bus Lines 07 and 09)

If you have any interest at all in cacti and succulents, you will love the Jardin de Cactus!  It is situated in a beautifully converted disused quarry (one of the excellent projects of the local hero Cesar Manrique).

Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

Jardin de Cactus

The plants are laid out on attractive terraces at different levels, and you can easily spend a couple of hours or so just strolling around.  Do watch your footing, though – it would be easy to accidentally step off one of the terraces (and landing on one of the cacti would not be a pleasant experience!)

Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

Attractive terraces in the Jardin de Cactus

Apparently there are over 4500 plants and around 450 species in the garden.   After spending an hour or two wandering around you really appreciate the diversity of these amazing plants.

Cactus plants at the Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

Some specimens are truly magnificent!

Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

Huge spurge cactus specimen

As well as the obvious star attractions there are also water features, sculptures, a windmill and a very pleasant cafe bar with indoor and outdoor seating.  Don’t miss it!

Specimens in the Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

Jameos del Agua

(Bus Line 09)

For an unusual experience, try visiting Jameos del Agua.  Another of Cesar Manrique’s projects, this is a fascinating complex inside an enormous collapsed lava tube.

The star attraction is a beautifully clear lake within the lava tube containing a unique species of blind white squat lobster (Munidopsis polymorpha), found nowhere else.

Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

The lake in the lava tunnel

The lobster, which is only about 1cm long, is very sensitive to light and disturbance, so the area is quite dark.  You need to give your eyes time to adjust, and watch your footing to make sure you don’t trip or get wet feet!

It is also very important not to throw or drop anything into the water, as chemicals could easily destroy this unique species.

Blind white squat lobster (Munidopsis polymorpha), Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Unique blind white squat lobster (Munidopsis polymorpha) in the lake

In addition to the lake, there are also beautifully laid out gardens on different levels, an educational display about the volcanic origins of the island, several very attractive refreshment areas and cafe bars, and even a large modern concert hall.

Gardens at Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Landscaped garden

Hibiscus flower

Beautiful hibiscus

View from Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

View from one of the refreshment areas

The attraction is very popular with tour buses, and can therefore get very busy, so try to avoid peak times if possible.  We thought it might be too crowded for our liking, and there were queues when we arrived, but we still thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Cueva de los Verdes

(Bus Line 09)

The Cueva de los Verdes is an enormous lava tube formed from an eruption of Montana la Corona.  The scale of the lava tube is truly vast (Jameos del Agua above is within the same tube), being in total around 7km long.

The line 09 bus stops at Jameos del Agua, and it is possible to walk between the two sites.  Guided tours take you through about 1km of the tube, which is far more impressive than we expected.

Cueva de los Verdes, Lanzarote

Inside the lava tube

There is quiet a lot of walking and steps, and you need to stoop low to get through some of the passages.  It would be easy to trip or bang you head on some of the low roofs, so you need to be careful  and reasonably sure-footed – in the UK you would definitely have to wear a hard hat!

Concerts are also held here – this must be a very special experience!

Orzola

(Bus Line 09)

Orzola is easy to reach from Arrecife by bus.  From here you can catch a ferry to La Graciosa, which makes a great day out.  (To read about our visit and a great walk see our separate post La Graciosa).

Orzola, Lanzarote

Orzola and its tiny port

To check the ferry times from Orzola see Direct Ferries.  You can buy your tickets in advance online if you wish, or there is a ticket office close to the terminal.

Even if you don’t want to visit La Graciosa, Orzola is a pleasant place to visit.  There are a few restaurants, including one overlooking the port area which is ideal for a lazy lunch.  You can also pick your way through paths in the black lava until you reach a lovely little beach, Playa De Orzola (also called Playa Peligrosa).  This is not suitable for swimming, but it is a nice place to watch the Atlantic waves rolling in and hitting the rocky shore.

Near Orzola, Lanzarote

Matt finding a way through old lava which is being colonised by plants

Playa Blanca

(Bus Line 60)

Playa Blanca is easily reached by a regular bus service from Arrecife.  This modern resort has seafront promenades, plenty of shops and lots of touristy restaurants to choose from.

Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Palm trees by the promanade

The modern marina is the place to head if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere.  It is beautifully landscaped with water features, palm trees and elegant restaurants with views of the boats.  Great for a long lazy lunch.

Rubicon Marina, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, Canary Islands (2666979377)

You can also get ferries from here for a day trip to Fuerteventura.  For timetables, prices and to purchase your ticket online see  Direct Ferries.

Other Options

Other resorts on the island can easily be reached by bus:

  • Costa Teguise (Bus Lines 01 and 03)
  • Puerto del Carmen (Bus Lines 02 and 03)
  • Puerto Calero (Bus Lines 24 and 25)

We particularly enjoyed visiting the marina at Puerto Calero where you can admire the impressive yachts and have a refined lunch in one of the elegant restaurants.

For information about walks, visiting the Timanfaya National Park and La Graciosa look out for separate posts coming soon.

A Few Practicalities

Getting to Lanzarote

Many budget airlines have regular flights to Arrecife.  We like to use Jet2 for their excellent service.  Alternatively try using Skyscanner to look for the best flights convenient for you.


Getting from the Airport

There are regular buses from the airport to and from Arrecife see Bus Lines 22 and 23.

Walks

To read about some introductory walks on the island see Three Gentle Walks in Lanzarote.  See also our posts on the Timanfaya National Park and La Graciosa island.

Guide Books

A great guide book to exploring the island, whether by bus, car or on foot, is the Landscapes Guide – Lanzarote: Car Tours and Walks.

 Other useful books include the Lanzarote Marco Polo Travel Guide which has a pull-out map and the Discovery Walking Guide: Walk Lanzarote.

For a really useful touring map see the Lanzarote Tour and Trail Super-Durable Map.

There is so much more to Lanzarote than its beach resorts.  If you have any interest in geology and volcanoes, and the plants adapted to colonise this harsh environment, you will enjoy exploring this fascinating island.

Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences, therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.

The post A Week in Arrecife – Exploring Lanzarote by Bus appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.



Soll in the Austrian Tyrol – A Perfect Base for Summer Walking

Soll in the Austrian Tyrol is easily reached from Innsbruck, and is a perfect summer walking destination The post Soll in the Austrian Tyrol – A Perfect Base for Summer Walking appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.

The Austrian Tyrol is well known for its gorgeous alpine scenery, picturesque ski resorts and fantastic summer walking country. Each valley has its own attractive towns and villages, most supported by excellent bus and train services and mountain lifts to get you high into the mountains. There are literally dozens of mountain resorts that make ideal bases for walking holidays.

Soll is an attractive little town in the Wilder Kaiser area.  It is located on a plateau with green meadows all around.  The surrounding villages and hamlets are connected by footpaths and peaceful country lanes, great for walking.  With its selection of hotels, shops, restaurants and funicular railway it makes an ideal summer base.

Soll

Soll (Photo by Jaap Kievit, via Wikimedia Commons)

How to Get to Soll

The easiest way to reach Soll using public transport is from Innsbruck, though it is also straightforward from Salzberg or Munich.  Wherever you are coming from, you first need to get a train to whichever is easiest of these three stations:  Wörgl, Kufstein or St Johann in Tirol.  You can then get a direct bus to Soll (see timetables).

To check the train routes and timetables from any starting point, and purchase tickets online if you wish, see Rail Europe.

The one-stop shop for train travel

For a large selection of rail passes, including multi-country passes, see Interrail.



Where to Stay in Soll

We stayed in the highly attractive Hotel Postwirt, and can definitely recommend it.  The location, rooms, efficient and friendly service and food are all great.  The half board option includes very good evening meals and is particularly good value.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay!

Postwirt Hotel, Soll, Austria

Hotel Postwirt

To search for other accommodation options in Soll see this page at booking.com.

If you prefer to book your holiday as a package try Inghams, who include Soll as one of their bases.



Walks Around Soll

There are many mountain lifts in the Wilder Kaiser – Brixental region which provide easy access to fantastic walking country.

If you intend to use them it is definitely worth purchasing a Cable Car Experience card.  This gives you unlimited use of the lifts, as well as various discounts in the area.  You can purchase a card for as many days as you need – follow the above link for details.   The price is slightly reduced with a Wilder Kaiser GuestCard, which is issued to anyone staying in the area.  Make sure you get your GuestCard when you book in to your accommodation – it also provides you with free travel on the Kaiserjet bus which links Soll to other nearby villages.

For walking suggestions, Soll Walks is an excellent website.  It includes a wide selection of short, medium and long walks, each of which can be downloaded as a PDF.  Also useful is the Cicerone Guide Walking in Austria – Chapters 6 and 7 cover the area around Soll.  There is also a really useful hikers map of the Wilder Kaiser area which includes Soll.

To give you an idea of the beautiful country in the area, here are some photos from our visit.

Valley in the Austrian Tyrol near Soll

Scenic path through a valley near Soll

 

Gondolas in the Wilder Kaiser region of the Austrian Tyrol

One of the many gondola lifts in the area

 

Wilder Kaiser area in the Austrian Tyrol

View over meadows to the Wilder Kaiser mountain range

 

Wilder Kaiser area in the Austrian Tyrol

Another view to the Wilder Kaiser mountain range

 

Countryside near Soll, Austria

Enjoying the mountain air!

 

Church near Soll in the Austrian Tyrol

Impressive church just outside Soll on the way to the ‘Witches Water’ theme area

 

Two sheep in the Austrian Tyrol

A couple of local residents

 

Low cloud in the Wilder Kaiser region of the Austrian Tyrol

Low morning cloud

 

Beside the river

Matt enjoying a quiet break by a pretty mountain stream

An Excursion to Kufstein

If you fancy a day off from walking, Kufstein is a great destination which is easily reached by bus (see timetables).

Kufstein is an attractive town with an historic centre, located on the banks of the River Inn.  It has a medieval fortress which can be reached by a funicular railway or a steepish path.  Here there is a museum of local history and lovely views over the Inn Valley to the Alps.

Kufstein, Austria

Kufstein with its medieval fortress above the River Inn

You can also stroll on either side of the river, where there are a number of cafes and restaurants, including the amusingly named Inncafe Hell (which is actually very good).

Inncafe Hell, Kufstein, Austria

Inncafe Hell

If you enjoy walking on accessible paths among green meadows and attractive villages, with stunning mountain backdrops, Soll is an excellent base.

 



Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences, therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.

 

The post Soll in the Austrian Tyrol – A Perfect Base for Summer Walking appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.



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