La Gomera | December 2011

Travelling to the island involves a 4 hour flight to Tenerife and then 2 long ferry trips. However the effort in getting there is well rewarded on arrival. The island has spectacular mountains, valleys, gorges, forests, and coastal cliffs.
Our hotel, The Gran Rey, faced the sea with mountains and gorges at the rear. Having seen the terrain from the ferry and studied the walks program we opted for the easier walks on offer. However there is very little easy walking in La Gomera. Being volcanic there are few level areas and plenty of upping and downing. Some paths can be rough underfoot.
On the first day the ‘lighter’ walkers met our guide Ernst, an Austrian. He had a very good knowledge of local flora, history and geology. He proved to be an excellent and patient guide. A typical day would involve breakfast on the hotel terrace facing the sea in short sleeves followed by a coach ride to the walk starting point. The roads in La Gomera are good and climb up the valleys and gorges affording superb views. Our drivers were very skilful in negotiating the numerous hairpin bends and zigzags and oncoming traffic. We would then walk for approximately 4 hours with stops for lunch and special interest. On 3 of our walks we visited a bar afterwards which was most welcoming. Overall, during the 4 walks we did approximately 2650 meters of descent and 750 meters of ascent. The lengths of the walks were about right for us. On one of the walks we visited the highest point on the Island and had some good views. Cloud then closed in creating a halo in the mist. We then visited the rain forest, which is one of the oldest in the world. The trees capture moisture from the mist in the prevailing trade winds. The moisture trickles to the ground and subsequently forms the basis of the Island's drinking water. The rainforest was cool and damp and we saw the only permanent running stream on the Island.
On days off, there was plenty to do, including whale watching, a visit to a tropical fruit farm and relaxing in the hotel pool or on the terraces. John kindly led some self guided walks and Tessa led a small party of us on a superb ridge and coastal walk which was our favourite walk. Thanks Tessa for a day, which will never be forgotten, with Lynda taking photos and films and culminating in a bar visit at the end of the walk.
Thank you Lynda for a marvellous holiday. The company, hotel and walking were excellent. How did you also manage to arrange virtually wall to wall warm sunshine during our visit?' Thanks also to John for his behind the scenes support to Lynda.

Dennis and Linda Rumble
The ‘heavy’ walkers, led by Sebastian, climbed around 4000 metres and descended 3500metres during 6 walks in wonderful scenery. The walks varied from woodland tracks in the National Park to ridge paths high above the valleys and paths hugging the edge of cliff faces. On our third day, one such walk took us to the summit of Table Mountain. First ascending from the valley floor in Gran Rey to the village of El Cercado where primitive pottery is still made and then on to Cipude, one of the highest communities on La Gomera. After some refreshment we were ready for the final scramble up to the summit plateau (Forteleza) for a lovely panorama of the south and west of the island.
The other memorable walk in 10 days packed with great moments, was our final day ascent from Alojera in the north west up to Arure on beautifully engineered cliff paths that crossed seemingly inaccessible sheer walls giving wonderful views down to Taguluche at our feet and the Atlantic coast beyond. The walk finished at a hilltop restaurant overlooking Valle Gran Rey – a most satisfying end leaving many of us looking forward to our next visit. On the days off, John L led the self-guided walks for some heavy walkers.
In the evenings, we all met together in the bar, to watch the sunset over a drink or chat before supper on our long tables. It’s been a fantastic 10-night holiday with tremendous variety but best of all was the company as the group of 26 all mixed in so well.

Susan Maquire

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