Usually the Canary Islands are well known for their touristic infrastructure, wide beaches and touristic centres like Playa del Ingles (Gran Canaria) and Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife). In 2008 Stefan (a close friend of mine) and me chose to go for hiking in La Gomera on a 1,5 week hiking trip.
Most of the tourists from around the world visit the 4 Big Islands named Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventure – But: there is also La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera. Compared to the big 4, the small Islands are much quieter but harder to travel to (you have to do island hopping to get there).[box type=”info”]This article is part of the free Backpacking in Europe Guide where you find more great information, resources and destination guides to plan & organize your trip to Europe![/box]
First of all i have to mention, that this trip was no classical backpacking trip because we stayed in a very comfortable Hotel in Playa de Santiago. We just wanted to celebrate our diploma and with this the finish of our time at the university by treating ourselves with a luxurious hiking base to relax after our tours. Nevertheless we did not want to hang around on the beach or play golf ;)
Our Plan was to discover nearly the whole Island – we were willing to do big hiking tours. So we packed our backpacks with maps and all the stuff needed to do this and flew to Tenerife (South), from there we took the Bus to Los Christianos to take the ferry to San Sebastian de La Gomera (Capital) and drove by car to our hotel – altogether a trip of 14hrs from Hamburg.
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are originally volcanic islands formed by the Canary hotspot. This is the reason why you have to calculate large distances to get from one coastal village to another – big mountains in the centre and volcanic valleys you have to circumnavigate. Moreover this is also the reason why it is hard to find classic sand beaches on the coast (except the islands that are much closer to africa), you have to deal with black sand beaches or stony beaches. Altogehter you will find a great natural diversity over there with a lot of breathtaking viewpoints.
At the end we picked 5 different hiking tours out of the guide packed with 50 tours – 10% is not too bad ;). To start small we began with a walk through the woods in the centre of the Island – the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Garajoney National Park“, here you find a densely wooded region which is lmost permanently shrouded in clouds and mist. The next day we continued with a 4hours tour passing Imada, much tougher than the first one but also with a lot more viewpoints.
Our target was to do tours in different parts of the Island so we decided to hike from Tagamiche to La Laja and the big rock formations in the centre, with a great dinner in a typical Canary Bar-Restaurant. At this point i have to say i love the Canary Tapas food – a big variety of fingerfood with typical regional ingredients like “mojo“.
Number 4 was the hardest hiking tour – we drove to Vallehermoso in the north. From there we made a big 7hrs lasting roundtrip through the valley of Vallehermoso – exhausting but definetely worth the sweat! We had great views, green valleys, stony mountain crests and overgrown paths which made it difficult to stay on the right path. After this tour we were in need of a 2 days break to get our batteries charged – not hard in a ressort like we had, with pools a nice beach and bars around the corner :D
Last but not least we finished our trip by hiking in the western part of the Island: from Alojera to Tazo, Epina and back. Again we chose a hard tour, but hey! – we were now trained! Again we saw the big variety of nature in the different parts of this beautiful island: palms, treeles mountains, cactus covered hills and a stony beach.
At the end of our vacation we fell in love with this island and it's nature, food, empty trails far away from mass tourism and of course it's very friendly inhabitants!
La Gomera is the perfect destination for hiking/trekking – my tips:
- rent a car to get to the starting points of the tours
- choose a nice hotel / hostel or finca for recreation
- try the local food and go to bars & restaurants instead of having hotel food
- visit San Sebastian with its beautiful harbour
- if you like to go swimming visit Valle Gran Rey (it is also the touristic centre)
- make a roundtrip with the car, along the streets are a lot of great viewpoints – “Mirador”
- calculate more than a week and don't stress yourself ;)
- buy a good tiny book with hiking tours- my recommendation:
Gomera: The Finest Valley and Mountain Walks (Rother Walking Guides)