One month after arriving in a new place, with a third of our journey under our belts and two thirds left to look forward to, we like to take stock of our initial impressions. Overall, Tenerife had been exceeding our expectations, and we were very pleased with our decision to come here. Here are some highlights from one month on La Gomera and Tenerife!
We had a lot of fun hiking around La Gomera, but it was exhausting, and we were ready to get to the main destination of our 91 day adventure: Tenerife. We had rented a rural house for the duration of our stay, and were looking forward to settling down a little.
The capital of La Gomera, San Sebastián is home to around 30% of the island's population. As our ferry wasn't scheduled to leave for Tenerife until the late afternoon, we had an entire day to explore the town.
Our week on La Gomera had flown by, and the final hike was upon us. At least we wouldn't have to go far … our chosen route led directly past our cabin at the Casa del Chorro, up to the Mirador Abrante, and over the mountains to Agulo. Had we saved the best for last? Let's find out!
A town with a name like Vallehermoso ("Beautiful Valley") best be able to deliver the goods. We'd already spent the better part of a week on an isla hermosa, so expectations were high. And we weren't disappointed… at least by the town and its truly beautiful valley. But this wasn't our best hike, thanks to the overcast skies. While hiking on La Gomera, overcast skies are bad news, because if your trail takes you into the hills…
Depending upon your Spanish proficiency, you might know that Juego de Bolas means "Ball Game". And depending upon your interest in games, you'd be either disappointed or indifferent upon learning that the Juego de Bolas complex near Agulo has absolutely nothing to do with a ball game. Instead, this is an interpretive center dedicated to the history and nature of La Gomera.
Our fourth day on La Gomera was supposed to be for recovery, when we would pause all physical activity and simply relax on a beach. But for whatever reason, when the day rolled around, we felt more like hiking in an ancient forest than chilling on the black sand. I'm starting to think that something might be wrong with us… But even though our hearts were willing, our bones were still sore, so we picked out an…
Our third hike in La Gomera would be a circular route starting in the village of Chipude, taking past the viewpoint of Igualero to the top of Garajonay (the highest point on La Gomera), and then back again through the charred remains of a forest devastated by wildfire.
The most unique cultural trademark of the people of La Gomera is the silbo gomero, a whistled language which has been named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. We had the chance to hear it in action, while at the Mirador Abrante.
Our initial hike on La Gomera had been more difficult than expected and we scaled back our ambitions big time for Day Two. If a three hour hike actually took us six, how long would we need for an eight hour hike?! Best not to even find out. Luckily, on this island criss-crossed with paths, there's always an alternative. And we found a way to explore the Valle Gran Rey which wouldn't involve (too many) hours of agony.
We arrived in Tenerife early Sunday afternoon, disembarked the ferry on La Gomera later that same day, and checked into our guest house in they tiny village Imada well after nightfall. After a quick meal at the town's single restaurant, the Arcilia, we went straight to bed. On Monday morning, we'd be confronting our first big hike of the week, and we wanted to be rested.
With a population of just 20,000, and a diameter of approximately twenty kilometers, the circular island of La Gomera is the sixth-biggest of the seven Canary Islands. Far less known than its siblings Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, what La Gomera lacks in fame, it makes up for with its spectacular hiking … which is precisely the reason Jürgen and I decided to spend our first week here.