Walking in La Gomera: The Best Routes For Your Walking Holidays

By Sierd van der Bij

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Walking in La Gomera: The Best Routes For Your Walking Holidays
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La Gomera is not a secret for enthusiasts anymore, but thankfully the island still is not on the radar of the mass tourist. No all-in hotels, no fighting over beach chairs and no fish 'n chips. This is La Gomera, the green pearl of the Canary Islands, loved by hippies, hikers, and connoisseurs of the good Canarian life.

If you already went hiking in Tenerife, you will have seen La Gomera from a distance. The quirky little island floats off the coast of its bigger brother, so to speak, and in the shape of a ferry, this green gem is attracting more and more people who want something different. Tenerife is perfect as a beach and walking holiday, but La Gomera offers just that little bit more hiking and when you understand why you won't even go looking for a beach. In our blog post, we introduce you to the best hiking routes and take your first steps into a hiking paradise.

Walking in La Gomera: What and Where?

We already mentioned the beaches. Of course, you'll find them on La Gomera too. Unlike on other Canary Islands, you won't easily find huge collections of beach chairs here. What you do find here are hippies of all generations banging their drums, especially before sunset. The history of this takes us all the way back to American hippies who literally crossed the ocean to escape military duty. Los Americanos, as they were known on the calm little island, were welcomed with open arms and the years that followed soon became legendary. Parties and more hippies hearing about the island meant that the culture soon became part of the island.

The culture was naturally accompanied by a passion for the outdoors. You will find this on La Gomera, dubbed La Isla Redonda because of its round shape, by the bucketful. La Gomera has a network of more than 600 kilometres of hiking trails. There are trails of all shapes and flavours and of varying degrees of difficulty for those who like to challenge themselves; from hoary GR routes, mystical jungle trails; and hiking trails with constant views of that endless ocean. Tenerife is known for its eternal spring, but of course, you'll find this in La Gomera too. Here you can go all year round for a good shot of endorphins.

Walking in La Gomera: What and Where?

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La Gomera’s Unique Language: Whistling

It is clear that communication and logistics in La Gomera are not exactly easy. High peaks, deep valleys and gorges, it does complicate a few things. On La Gomera, a special language has emerged over the centuries: Silbo Gomero. This whistled language takes us all the way back to the ancient Guanches, and thus existed before the conquistadores took the island in the 16th century. The language was adapted to Spanish in the 17th, and although it was barely in use at point in history, it is fanatically used as a language today and is even a compulsory subject at school on La Gomera.

During your hikes on La Gomera, you cannot miss the fantastic sounds of the silbadors, as Silbo Gomero 'speakers' are called. Silbo Gomero is not only used between Gomerans themselves; visitors to the island also have the opportunity to become accustomed to the whistle language, this in the shape of small workshops offered especially in restaurants.

The Best Season for Walking in La Gomera

Although you can visit La Gomera all year round, even in winter, there is a best and most popular season for hiking holidays on this island. This is completely in line with the other Canary Islands and even applies to Madeira. The islands owe this fantastic climate to their geographical location and the Gulf Stream. In geographic spring and autumn, as far as you have them at that latitude, you will hike most finely on La Gomera.

Because in many places it can get too hot in summer and too cold in winter, these months are less suitable for an active holiday. In spring and autumn, on the other hand, you can expect many hours of sunshine and a pleasant breeze. There are absolutely no thick rain clouds, so you can safely leave your umbrella at home. Like Tenerife, for example, La Gomera can be a bit chilly in the north, so a jacket or jumper is still recommended.

The Best Season for Walking in La Gomera

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Walking in La Gomera: Map and Navigation

La Gomera has been an absolute hiking paradise for decades. You are therefore going to find many travel and especially hiking guides about this special island. You will certainly not be the first to make your way along the fantastic trails of eternal spring. But where do you start? Later in this blog, you will find a selection of the very best hiking trails on La Gomera. Below you'll find an overview map of La Gomera giving you an idea of what's where. Although La Gomera has its own airport, you do have to go to busier Tenerife first to get there most easily. In the map, you'll see a few key hiking destinations indicated.

Walking in La Gomera: Map and Navigation

The 7 Best Routes for Walking in La Gomera

The hippies we mentioned earlier, some never returned home and have made La Gomera their new forever home. The island, however small, therefore has a lot to offer. Countless guidebooks and blogs have been written about La Gomera's extraordinary nature and hiking trails. As we already described, La Gomera has more than 600 kilometres of trails, so it's pretty easy to know what you should at least have done or what is possible. Vamos!

1. Looping La Gomera: GR132

It doesn't get much better than the GR132 on La Gomera. At Bookatrekking.com, we are anything but unfamiliar with the phenomenon of GRs, Grande Randonnées in French. GR footpaths can be found all over Europe, and although it sounds fabulous in French, it really is 'just' a Long Distance Footpath. Tougher GR trails are the GR20 on Corsica, GR57 Tour du Mont Thabor in France and, also in Spain, the GR221 on Mallorca. GR132 on La Gomera circles the whole island and guarantees a huge adventure. Steep slopes, dense laurel forests and here and there you feel like you're on Mars.

The GR132 is no small feat. The full circuit counts, say, 140 kilometres and comes with more than 7000 metres of altitude. The stages are arranged so that you always walk through a small settlement, but La Gomera is no Tenerife and the villages are small and availability in accommodation is not always guaranteed. Wild camping is actually not allowed but is tolerated on the GR132 in places. Although the GR132 is the pinnacle and we can't really imagine a better way to explore the island, its smaller brother, the GR131 is a bit more suitable for a walking holiday without further ado. More on that in the next chapter.

1. Looping La Gomera: GR132

2. All the Highlights of La Gomera: GR131

Some of the same excitement and beauty as on the GR132 but with more accommodation options and easier logistics. That's the GR131, basically the GR route that draws a line across all the Canary Islands. So, how does that work? A point-to-point walk on each of the 7 islands. These are not all equally popular and it's no surprise that the GR131 on La Gomera stands out head and shoulders above the other options. The route, which can be divided into four stages, is great for self-guided hiking and over the years it has attracted more and more hikers to the island. It also combines well with part of the GR132.

The hike starts directly in San Sebastian, the capital of La Gomera. From here you walk via Degollada de Peraza, the highest point of La Gomera Alto de Garajonay and Chipude to the beach Playa de Vallehermoso. Unlike the GR132, which goes around the island, the GR131 cuts the island in half, so to speak. With San Sebastian, Chipude and Vallehermoso you have fine bases for accommodation on this route. You can then extend the route with part of the GR132 and end up back in San Sebastian.

2. All the Highlights of La Gomera: GR131

3. To the Summit: Alto de Garajonay

It doesn't get any higher than Alto de Garajonay on La Gomera. You'll find this 1,529-metre peak in the National Park of the same name, which fits on a huge collection of ideal routes for day trips. From the summit, you can see neighbouring Tenerife, with Pico del Teide, still more than twice as high as Garajonay. The lack of altitude makes up for this hike in the form of biodiversity. On Gran Ruta 18, as the circular hike to the summit is called, you walk through beautiful laurel forests. Keep going, though, because with 14 kilometres and more than 500 metres of altitude, the GR18 does take at least half a day.

At the top, you will find a replica of an ancient Guanchen ritual domain from the 6th century. The Guanches gathered here when they wanted to talk to their gods. It is also where the last free Guanches hid from the Spanish conquistadores during the rebellion in the late 15th century, before being captured and killed or sold as slaves.

3. To the Summit: Alto de Garajonay

4. Going Deep: Barranco de Guarimiar

High peaks, deep valleys. La Gomera, like the other Canary Islands, is volcanic. The valleys, or rather ravines, here are called barrancos. In Tenerife, for example, you have the famous Barranco de Masca, a huge tourist attraction. Barrancos have always created logistical challenges on the islands. After all, you have to go through them, over them, or, in most cases, around them. Awkward for the commuter, but an absolute magnet for hikers. Take, for example, the Barranco de Guarimiar, one of La Gomera's most beautiful barrancos.

During a hike in the Barranco de Guarimiar, you can easily be away from it all for more than 4 hours. Are you afraid of heights? Then leave those aside for now, because here you will find deep ravines, narrow paths and absolute solitude. The circular hike through the Barranco de Guarimiar starts and ends in the village of Imada. 600 metres to descend and, since you have to go back, 600 metres to climb back up again.

4. Going Deep: Barranco de Guarimiar

5. Short but Feisty: La Fortaleza de Chipude

Like Alto de Garajonay, La Fortaleza de Chipude was an important place for the ancient Guanches. With a wide view on all corners, they could see danger coming from La Fortaleza and shelter from it: Fortaleza therefore means fortress. The mountain is a kind of Table Mountain of red basalt and as you start driving around the island, you see it again and again. There is a narrow path between the rocks from where you can get up to 1240 metres.

A climb is short, feisty and some scrambling and is always worthwhile. It gives you that same overview that the Guanches had, the views are magical. A good starting point for the 2-hour trek is the village of Chipude. While you're there, eat and drink at Victoria, one of the better local restaurants on the island.

5. Short but Feisty: La Fortaleza de Chipude

6. On the Diving Board: Mirador Abrante

Might not be the first place you want to go when looking for a relaxing hiking holiday, and yet this attraction combines very well with an exhilarating hike. Whereas most tourists just drive up to the Mirador, you start in the lower village of Agulo and literally earn your views. A walk of say 7 kilometres and 500 metres altitude will take you to one of the Canary Islands' most extraordinary constructions.

The Mirador hangs like a diving board over the ravine and the glass floor provides that extra bit of adrenaline. Slightly touristy, but still really worth it. To top it off, you can get coffee and Gomeranian pastries. Great fuel to complete the hike back to Agulo.

6. On the Diving Board: Mirador Abrante

7. Best for Last: La Mérica in Valle Gran Rey

We already mentioned La Gomera's hippies. You will definitely find them in Valle Gran Rey, one of the popular corners of La Gomera. This, by the way, is without you having the idea that it has been squashed by tourism. Valle Gran Rey is home to some of La Gomera's most famous beaches, known for their fine black sand and blue waters. The two longest are the beaches of La Puntilla and La Calera, which are also very popular with divers. For surfers, the beach at El Charco de la Condesa is the place to be.

Of course, Valle Gran Rey also offers a sea of options for hikers. La Mérica, which rises grandly above the valley. The summit seems inaccessible from below but a unique trail from the 17th leads zig-zagging upwards. It is one of the most beautiful and panoramic routes on the island, offering different views at every turn. On fine days, you can see El Hierro and La Palma.

7. Best for Last: La Mérica in Valle Gran Rey

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Packing List for the Canary Islands

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

Getting to and From La Gomera

The most beautiful places on earth, you will not simply get there. That certainly applies to La Gomera. Although the quirky little island has its own airport, you really only get there with a transfer via the Spanish mainland. The shortest, fastest and most common approach is to arrive via its 'big brother' Tenerife. Tenerife has two airports, one in the north, aptly called Teneriffe Norte (TFN), and one in the south near Los Christianos, Tenerife-Sur (TFS). The northern airport is also known as Los Rodeos, the southern also as Reina Sofia. Tenerife is a popular holiday destination and so you can fly to eternal spring with ease from any airport. Multiple airlines like Easyjet, Rynair, WizzAir and Transavia offer flights from all over the continent.

Most airlines fly into Los Christianos (TFS), which is totally convenient for travelling to La Gomera. In fact, the ferry to San Sebastian also departs from this coastal town. The crossing takes about an hour and a half and can be easily arranged through Fred Olsen and Garajonay Express.

Getting to and From La Gomera

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Safety tips for the Canary Islands

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The Canary Islands is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the Canary Islands. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of Canary Islands and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Canary Islands.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Canary Islands?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Canary Islands and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations, organizing luggage transportation and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Canary Islands not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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