Your walks take you anti clockwise around the island. From sea level with its exotic banana plantations, you walk up through the dry, rocky landscape to reach the unique 'Laurisilva' cloud forest which covers the top of the island and provides it with year round water which collects in artesian wells. Then down through magnificent ravines to the warm, sunny coast and its beaches; then climbing again through tiny settlements hidden in their valleys and cultivated terraces to reach the awe-inspiring volcanic chimney stacks of basalt, to return through Laurisilva, pine, euphorbia and fruit plantations to the port of San Sebastian. If you want the feeling of being alone with nature, then this is the place to be. Due to its volcanic origins, the island’s scenery is dramatic, mountainous and different from anywhere in mainland Europe. The highest peak is the Alto de Garajonay at 1,450 metres. From there you can see 4 other islands on a clear day. There is very little flat land at all due to the deep ravines (barrancos) that cut into the island from the central highlands down to the coast all around its perimeter. Average temperatures vary by just 6 degrees between summer and winter. The average January temperature is 19 degrees C and July is 25, allowing the cultivation of an impressive range of tropical and citrus fruit. However higher in the mountain villages it can be considerably cooler and on the coast a lot warmer than the average. Many of the crops are grown on the ingeniously built terraces on the steep valley sides making the landscape comparable to parts of Southeast Asia and Hawaii. La Gomera is a relaxed, unsophisticated island with a population of around 20,000 people living mostly in the capital, San Sebastian or the villages of the north. It has a good infrastructure of roads, amenities and services, including some good restaurants and small family run hotels. John and Liz, who have been our representatives on this tour since its conception, came to the island many years ago and their expert local knowledge has been a great help to Sherpa in designing this tour. Their enthusiasm for Gomera, its walks, scenery and people must be catching if Sherpa feedback on this tour is anything to go by!
We grade the tour as 'Moderate' (with some ‘challenging’ parts). However the walk should present no difficulties for anyone in reasonable condition and accustomed to walking in hilly areas. Short sections of some walks may be vertiginous but if you are worried, consult our local reps for advice. It may be possible to get a lift part of the way. Day Stages: 10 - 20 km per day, with ascents and descents of up to 1200 metres. 5 - 8 hours walking per day. On most walks there is the option of a lift part of the way for those feeling less energetic as your luggage will be transferred for you when moving to a new hotel.
Arrive by ferry at the port of San Sebastian from Los Cristianos, Tenerife. Your hotel is located approx 15 minutes by foot or a short taxi journey (approx Euros 5).
Accommodation: We use a 3 star hotel situated in the centre of San Sebastian on a bed & breakfast basis. Dinner can be taken in one of the many restaurants in town. There are two beaches within easy reach on foot. The ferry port is a fifteen-minute walk away. Or upgrade and stay in the Parador hotel.
Today you experience a first glimpse of the National Park. You will be collected at 9.00 - 9.30 am and taken to the start point of today’s walk. This is an exceptionally beautiful but strenuous walk through lush sub-tropical vegetation with spectacular views over the Hermigua valley. On the way up the ascents are steep in places but the path is well defined but the beauty of the area rewards the hard work. In roughly 3 hours you reach El Cedro (1000m) and the Bar La Vista for a well-deserved break. In unsettled weather we do not recommend the return route, as there is a very steep and slippery downhill stretch. Instead either return by the route you came up or spend some time exploring the forest and order a taxi from Bar La Vista to take you down to Hermigua. Ascent/Descent 800m.
Accommodation: Your accommodation tonight is a coverted traditional Canarian style manor house just above Hermigua.
After breakfast you will be picked up and transferred to the exquisitely situated village of Agulo (250m), which looks out to sea cut off from the rest of the island by the shear basalt cliffs rising behind. The walk begins with a steep ascent to bring you after 2 hours to the Visitor’s Centre of Garajonay National Park, (800m) where you can learn about the park and the island in general. Then down to the lunchtime stop at Bar Amalahuigue in Las Rosas or at Roque Blanco. You then continue on to Vallehermoso, for the last two hours downhill with expansive and stunning views over the north west of the island. Ascent 814m / Descent 846m.
Accommodation: Vallehermoso - Your accommodation for 2 nights is in a restored manor house built in 1896.
Panoramic views of the north coast and the cruel sea. A four and a half hour strenuous circular walk, with a fairly steep, gravelly descent for which you need to be surefooted and have a head for heights. The alternative is to turn round at roughly the half way point at the Ermita de Santa Clara viewpoint and retrace your steps back. This is one of the wildest parts of La Gomera where the sea is usually quite rough and there are some dramatic views of waves, rocks and windblown terrain as well as picturesque villages nestled in sheltered valleys below. A different and interesting corner of La Gomera. Ascent/Descent 850m.
Into the cloud forest. With plenty of water to drink and in winter long trousers and waterproof jackets, you head south from Vallehermoso (300m) up hill towards the centre of the island through lush, terraced farming country, past reservoirs, ever upwards until you enter the forest and the National Park. After lunch, an easy walk with occasional glimpses down to the magnificent Valle Gran Rey. From here you can take the path to El Cercado, home to Gomera’s tiny potteries and onto Chipude and Hotel Sonia at 1100m. Ascent: 871m / Descent 334m.
Accommodation: You will be staying two nights at family run Bar/Pension Sonia.
Relax on the west coast. Optional walk with some steep downhill parts to see the biggest and often considered the most beautiful valley in Gomera, Valle Gran Rey, via Gerian for swimming and sunbathing. Try lunch in a fish restaurant at the port of Vueltas. Bus or taxi back to Chipude. The super energetic can of course walk back! Ascent 72m / Descent 1114m
To the summit and down to the warm south. The fairly gentle uphill walk to the summit of the island, El Alto de Garajonay (1486 m) is completed in 2 hours. Beautiful views on a clear day down into the cloud forest and across to see the islands of Tenerife, E1 Hierro and La Palma and occasionally Gran Canaria; then steeply down into the hidden valley of Imada (800m.) where there is a shop/bar normally open. It is then down into a garden of Eden of palms and canes until you reach Play de Santiago and the south coast (3 hours from Imada). Ascent 570m / Descent 1500m
Accommodation: You will be staying two nights in Apartamentos Bellavista situated on a pedestrian lane in Laguna de Santiago. It is a short walk to the beach, restaurants and shops in the main part of the village. Here you will have your own apartment equipped with food and drink essentials to greet you on arrival. Breakfast is taken in your apartment, ingredients supplied. Choose one of the many local fish restaurants at the beach for dinner in the evening. Don't forget to check out the restaurante La Cuevita towards the harbour. It is built into a cave. We have chosen to have two nights here as it is the sunniest, warmest part of the island.
Lounge around Santiago and the beach or explore the hidden beaches to the east of the village. For the restless, take the bus past Alajero and walk to the only dragon tree on the island. Then back down to Santiago via the villages of Alajero and Targa. There is plenty to do and see and our local representatives are on hand with suggestions to suit.
After breakfast at your apartment, you will be taken to the start of this final days walk at Pastrana. Another wonderful day with a gentle start but becoming steep uphill until you reach the amazing Roque de Agando (1250m) - Gomera’s biggest basalt volcanic chimney. You arrive at the main road with wonderful panoramic views. Crossing over the road, the walk descends through pinewoods to La Laja and then on asphalt for the transfer to San Sebastian where you return for your last nights accommodation. Ascent 1215m / Descent 1050m.
Trip concludes after breakfast. Make your own way to the ferry port for your onward journey.
Overall a very enjoyable and well balanced trip. Be good if you offered a similar trip to La Palma or El Hierro! Enjoyed the walks around Hermigua, Vallehermoso and best of all Chipude - Playa de Santiago.
P. Sloper, Godalming, UK, 08 Feb 2016
Per Person, Twin Share