La Gomera – hiking in Garajonay National Park

The main reason to come to La Gomera is to enjoy the stunning views and beautiful nature, especially in the Garajonay National Park in the centre of the island. If you want beaches it’s probably best to stick to Tenerife and Gran Canaria. This is hiking country.

Map here.

The park takes its name from the Legend of Gara and Jonay, who were the Romeo and Juliet of indigenous folklore.

Pretty soon after you start driving up the winding road out of San Seb and into the park, you are rewarded with gob smacking views of the valleys from the many miradors (viewing points) along the way.

One of the first sights we passed was the towering Roque de Agando, a famous landmark that we could even see from the other side of the island.

This rock and many others like it around the island are lava plugs; lava that has solidified in the internal chamber that remains after the surrounding volcano has eroded away.

As you can imagine, there are heaps of fantastic walks all over the island. We managed three over the six days we were there.

We started off with an easy Grade 1 walk (officially known as Ruta 5) which takes you through the part of the laurel forest known as Las Creces.

The ancient wood has been left to its own devices and is thick with old, moss-covered trees.

The name comes from Icresi, the berries of the wax myrtle tree, which were once part of the traditional diet. Local people came here to gather them.

The laurel wood is described as ‘an ecosystem from the Tertiary Era, which disappeared from the continent as a result of the climatic changes in the Quaternary’.

At the end of the walk we went to this famous restaurant…

La Montaña aka Casa Efigenia (Intermediate A), Las Hayas, Plaza de los Eucaliptos

La Montaña is the official name of this restaurant but most people, and guide books, call it Casa Efigenia in hounour of its indomitable octogenarian lady owner. She took care of us as soon as we arrived and allocated us a private room as the outdoor terrace was full. Although somewhat frail now she is full of the joy of life and has plenty to say, so your Spanish will need to be fairly good to follow her.

The three-course vegetarian lunch, a steal at only €10, is the only choice on the midday menu, although you can opt to have smaller or larger portions. It may vary from what we had slightly, but generally it stays the same. Many of the fresh ingredients come straight from her kitchen garden.

We had our first taste of Almogrote (B+), a powerful pate made from goats’ cheese, garlic and paprika. Efigenia recommended we eat it with a spoonful of red mojo which took it up another notch.

I liked it so much that I took a couple of jars home, along with some honey from the restaurant shop.

The main dish was a Puchero (stew) made with potatoes, sweet potato, onion, tomato, spinach, carrots, pumpkin and chickpeas (top of pic). It was fine if a bit bland (C).

Also a bowl of Escaldón (bottom of pic), a stodgy paste of Gofio flour flavoured with stock (C), accompanied the feast.

With this a tropical salad of tomato, lettuce, carrot, avocado and banana (B).

Finally, a dessert of lemon and cinnamon flavoured Flan (caramel pudding) and a small glass of sweet wine (B) to go with a Café con Leche (C).

You should come here to enjoy good rustic food and Canarian hospitality. It’s an essential experience I would say.

They do accommodation too, see efigenialagomera.com or casaefigenia.com.

The next day we did a Grade 3 walk which started from Bar Casa Conchita in the village of Arure.

The first part of the walk starts off in open countryside with great views down Valle del Gran Rey to the sea. Video here.

Although we had a guidebook (not very good) and there are a few signs indicating some of the route, we still managed to get lost a couple of times.

But with a little trial and error we managed to work out the general direction we should go in.

We took a beer break halfway in Las Hayas again but went to Bar Restaurante Amparo (Intermediate B) www.amparolashayas.com at 12 Caretera General Arure, which is just up the road from Casa Efigenia and seems more popular with the locals. We didn’t eat but the food looked good and they have a nice sunny terrace with a bit of a view.

The next third of the walk was under tree cover which I was grateful for in the 22C heat (the hottest it got in mid January). Video here.

There was some overlap with the previous days’ Las Creces walk but we also took in the incredible view at Mirador Risquillo de Corgo.

You can see Mount Teide over in Tenerife on the horizon.

We continued through the woods along the Cañada de Jorge trail, officially known as Ruta 10.

Finally we were out in the open again as we walked downhill back to our starting point.

This walk was just right; a good, achievable workout for a group of unfit urban types like us.

Afterwards we went for a ravenous late lunch at Restaurante El Mirador de La Calera (see previous post).

More strenuous exertions in Hermigua coming next!

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