Gomera Playa de Iguala
In an attempt to flee from the European winter we decided to jump on a plane to the Canary Islands and go on a 2 week hiking trip through Tenerife and La Gomera.  The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Morocco and the Sahara and most of all: they’re having a mild climate year round. It was our best (and at the same time affordable) chance to get some sun in the dark european February.

For the first time in years I decided not to journal. I needed time off. Off media. Off. Just off! So I didn’t bring my phone, didn’t bring a journal. I only brought some small blank papers for a “just in case” bright aha-moment (which indeed happened once. Oh it was wonderful to write something down underneath the pine trees… just for me.) While hiking the PCT I experienced some pressure in “having to” journal, “having to” blog and something that I loved turned into something that I felt like I “had to” do. Not journaling on this trip through the Canary Islands took away a bit of the pressure and that one time I wrote something down I really really enjoyed it and it felt like a relieve.

TenerifeAs for gear, we brought our regular lightweight set up. This time bringing a Zpacks cuben fiber camo tarp though instead of a tent and I used the Gossamer Gear Pilgrim backpack, cause my Base Pack Weight was some 3,5 kg, sub 10 pounds and there was no need to bring the bigger Gossamer Gear Gorilla. (Loved the Pilgrim by the way… I’m gonna try to do a little gear review about it soon ;c)

Anyways. This is gonna be a small trip report. Not too much details, mostly pictures :cP Those who want more infos on hiking on Tenerife and La Gomera are welcome to get in touch and ask. As you know I’m always happy to help.

Also I’ll add some tips and infos for hiking on the Canaries. You can find them below the day by day trip report and pics ;c)

Here we go:

The first 5 and a half days of our trip we spent on La Gomera. Gomera is THE hiking island. It’s small, pretty quiet compared to Tenerife, hitching is soooo frikkin easy (the mostly german tourists all have a rental car and they will pick you up the moment you get your thumb out), and the hiking paths are really well marked.

We arrived (both kinda seasick because of the crazy sea) in San Sebastian de Gomera around noon and immediately started hiking along the GR 132, a hiking trail that goes around the island. After only 15 minutes you leave the city behind you and you’re in untouched (well almost untouched) wilderness with views off the steep cliffs on the Atlantic Ocean. We weren’t lucky in seeing whales and dolphins. But we could have been cause La Gomera is the place to be for whale and dolphin spotting.

Here’s an overview of the stretches we hiked along the GR 132 / on La Gomera:

O ya, what I want to remind you of: Forget about hiking big miles on the Canaries. The trails goes either up or down, mostly steep. Lots of scrambling and some boulder hopping. There are no flat stretches what so fucking ever!!! We mostly didn’t even get 12 miles a day under our belts.

  • Day 1: GR 132: San Sebastian de Gomera – Barranco de Machal – Playa de la Guancha – Barranco de la Guancha. Instead of going down to El Cabrito via the GR 132 we took the trail down northwest to Barranco Juan de Vera and back up on the other side. We slept in a goat cave almost up on the Barranco.

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  • Day 2: GR 132: Cave up in Barranco Juan de Vera- Seima – Baranco de Chinguarima – Playa de Santiago. We were already 3 km north of Playa de Santiago when we wanted to make camp. A bad storm (even the airport got closed) however forced us to go back down and search for a place to stay in Playa de Santiago.
    Day 1 and 2 are actually one section if you walk the sections as given. I can however say that is a pretty long one and I’d split it.

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pain can be a cage

You won’t often find me NOT smiling. But I was in soooo much pain that day that I could hardly move. I can no longer go sit down without assistance, let alone get up without assistance. Each morning HQ had to pull me up from my sleeping pad like a potato sack and hold me for a few seconds till my legs/hips could carry my weight (good thing I’m lightweight just like my pack ;c)

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  • Day 3: GR 132: Back up a few km to the airport from where we hitched up to  Alajero. By hitching we skipped a section, which didn’t seem very interesting to us. In Alajero we picked back up the GR 132 – Barranco de la Negra (this was our absolute favorite Barranco and hiking section in La Gomera) – Arguayoda – La Dama – Barranco de Iguala – Playa de Iguala. Playa the Iguala can only be reached by foot or boat and we had the whole beach to ourselves! It was absolutely amazing. We slept in some kind of cave underneath the rocks. Our own private beach. Damn what more can one ask for right?!!!

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  • Day 4: GR 132: Playa de Iguala – Gerian – Crossing the Barranco de Argaga on the upper part (we decided not to go down there as it is known as a huge scramble… A scramble I’d rather go up than go down… Next time) – decending into Valle Gran Rey via the GR 132. Next time I’d skip this section. The climb up from Playa de Iguala is nice but then the stretch till the descent into Valle Gran Rey is a bit boring. The decent into Valle is beautiful but absolutely steep and exhausting and it killed my knees and hips. I’d rather walk out of the Valle this way then down into it. As everyone says you shouldn’t try to camp wild in Valle Gran Rey, we found a cheap room in La Callera (30€ a night for two persons – Ask for a room in the Zumeria next to the church down in La Callera. That was a tip given to us by hikers we met and luckely the old lady had a room left for us.)

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  • Day 5: Hitch up to Pajarito – hike up the Garajonay (highest mountain on La Gomera) with great views of Tenerife and the Teide following the Route 18 –    onward through the National Park and the El Cedro forest along Route 18 till  the only official camping site “La Vista” on the north side of the island. Camping for 6€ a night

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  • Day 6: Hike down along Route 37, passing the highest waterfall on La Gomera (not veeeeeery impressive but still beautiful) till where the trail crosses the road to San Sebastian – hitch to San Sebastian – Ferry boat over to Tenerife at noon.

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On Tenerife we continued along the GR 131 and some local trails.

  • Day 1 (=Day 6 La Gomera): Arriving in Los Christianos around 1pm. Hiking out of Los Christianos was the worst. It was hot, busy, full of tourists. We couldn’t stay here for an hour without becoming unhappy. So after resupplying and buying more sunscreen we headed up towards the mountains and the crater of the Teide. We had to walk on paved road and then some local trails till Vueltas de Adeje, then find our way till Vento (where we asked on old man for water) from where we could hike the GR 131 and found a hidden spot to camp in Barranco del Rey shortly before ascending towards the saddle. Mozzies ruined our night. Damn those fuckers.

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Camo tarp ;cP

  • Day 2: GR 131: Barranco del Rey – Ifonche – into the Canarian Pine Tree forests till Montana de la vica (some 2 km before Villaflor). We found the most awesome beautiful campspot in the pine tree forest on top of the Montana. An absolutely beautiful day guided by the heavenly smell of fire scarred pine trees!!!

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  • Day 3: GR 131: Montana de la vica – Villaflor (resupply food and water) – Paysaje Lunar – Campspot on the crater rim, on the saddle between the Guajara and the Morra del Rio. Crazy epic (but veeeery windy and pretty cold) campspot at 2300m with perfect view of the Teide.

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  • Day 4: Local Trail over the mountain Morra del Rio (2529m) in alpine conditions – crazy descent with lots of snow – down the pine tree forests to a campspot on old terrasses close to El Contador.

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  • Day 5: Local Trail PR TF 86 from El Contador – Barranco de Puento – Ortiz (sports climbing and boulder canyon) – Villa de Arico – Last 4 km to where HQ’s aunt lives (about 150 m above sea level)

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We stayed another 3 days with HQ’s aunt and uncle (they offer a great service “first and last night on Tenerife: They pick you up from the airport, offer you a room (they have supercool cave rooms) in their finca, breakfast and then bring you to the ferryboat that’ll take you to La Gomera or El Hierro…. And the other way around when you come back )and had a wonderful time just relaxing and doing nothing, spending time with the family, going out eating in El Medano, going to the beach in Abades,.

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Tips for hiking on the Canary Islands:

  • WATER! The LACK of water is the biggest issue you will encounter while backpacking through the Canary Islands. If you have a place to stay and you’re going on day hikes it’s not a problem. Then you just take your water for the day and you’re set. If you’re backpacking and camping (“wild camping” as we call it in Europe is illegal but I’ll get to that later) then you have to act like you’re in the desert, which you kind of are. Most streams (or what used to be streams), especially in the south, are bone dry year round. We were “lucky” there was some stormy weather in the sky and we had some decent rainshowers which filled some puddles. But really expect to find no “natural” water sources along the trail. The villages is where you should fill up your water bottles. Sometimes for 2 days. So we howled lots of water. Up to 7 L.  On the crater rim and on our mountain day we melted snow. It can get very hot in the desert vegetation as well as on the exposed rocks and you need lots of water!
  • Camping. As said “wild camping” is illegal on the Canary Islands (as in most parts of Europe). Therefor I cannot openly encourage you here on my blog to break the law ;cP However if you really wanna backpack and sleep under the stars… it’s the only way. I don’t know the spanish law (the Canary islands “belong to” Spain) but I know in Germany there is something like the right to bivouac for one night. I mean if you’re too tired, too injured, too whatever to hike on, what can you do right? If you know what I mean. So what we do is set up camp in places out of sight of villages or streets or anything like that. On the Canary islands that almost always means that you have to dry camp and you won’t have water available from a creek or stream. Keep that in mind when you fill up your water bottles in the last village you pass through. Also and very important if you bivouac: LEAVE NO TRACE. Nobody should know or see that you’ve been there. Take care of the vegetation, pack out ALL of your trash, be aware of the fauna (though there isn’t veeery much big wild life on the Canaries, there are lizzards and insects and those you should consider and take care of too!), burry your human waste in a proper way,… If you love hiking, if you love this planet, take frikkin good care of it. We want our children and the next generations to experience this beauty too!!!
  • Bring sunscreen. You’re on Sahara level here! The sun is high in the sky and is super strong. Also bring a hat and sunglasses. We also brought lightweight longsleeve clothes for protection against the sun.
  • We’ve hiked on the Canary islands twice now and each time we brought a tarp. This time however there was a loooot of wind (not so very uncommon for an island haha) and we could hardly sleep because of our cuben fibre tarp flutttering in the strong winds. Next time we will bring a tent.
  • Both HQ and I are fans of trailrunners for footwear. This is the first time in years that we said: Maybe we should have brought sturdier footwear, like with ankle coverage. The Canary Islands are volcanic islands and are very rocky and steep. Some rocks are very loose and wobbly and in combination with the steepness sturdy footwear might be a good idea. It’s not that our trailrunners couldn’t deal with it, it’s that with sturdier footwear you’d be able to move faster and not concentrate as much with every step you take. If you wanna train your ankle and foot muscles, then go for trailrunners. You’ll have some decent training on the Canaries ;cP
  • Food: I dehydrated 2 kind of sauces (one tomato sauce and one thai curry sauce) and 1 dish (a veggy chili) and made my own superfood muesli bars and hummus for lunch Because of the fact that the Canaries are part of the EU it was no problem what so ever to take the dehydrated homemade food with me on the plane and across the border. We carried enough dehydrated food for 9 2person meals. In local stores we’d then buy angel hair noodles, tortillas and muesli. That made resupplying super duper easy. Cause even the tiniest stores had noodles and tortillas and some kind of cereals.
  • Maps and stuff. We used the Kompass maps and the Gaia GPS app. HQ brought his iPhone with the app on it and we mostly only used this app while on trail. (We brought our suntactics solar charger to make sure the iPhone woulnd’t run out of battery ;c)

We definitely had an amazing time on La Gomera and Tenerife and got the much much needed sun we were longing for. It really is the perfect hiking destination to get away from the cold depressing european winter ;c)

Cheers,

Cat

38 thoughts on “Hiking on the Canary Islands ‘La Gomera’ and ‘Tenerife’

  1. I like how you were escaping cold euro winter, but there was still snow in the mountains and it looked cold! Lol. I’m only teasing, it does look beautiful and a lot warmer than Northern Europe I’m sure. I loved your photos. It looks like a beautiful place to hike! Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha absolutely true Anna! I was freezing my ass off!!! But only that one day/night when we hiked above 2000m/6000ft. Apart from that we mostly had Tshirt-weather during the day. The Canaries sure are a beautiful place for hiking! Cheers, Cat

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  2. Absolutely amazing photos!!! 😀 😀 Really digging your trip report, sorry to hear that you are having very bad pain 😦 , your camo Zpacks tarp is very cool. I am really looking forward to your GG pilgrim pack review. Take care of yourself best wishes to You and HQ

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know the exact ‘why’. You might have to go read the laws of the different european countries to find an answer. What we did however was not illegal. We didn’t have a tent (tent = camping) and often slept under the stars. That is called bivouac and is allowed for at least one night in one place. It’s a grey zone really. Everyone has to decide for him- or herself whether he or she wants to go there. Anyway if you wanna know the details, just check the law texts 😉 Cheers, Cat

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  3. Also I’d have to add that even when it is prohibited, in some countries it is “tolerated” and it is very unlikely you’ll get fined, as long as you practice Leave No Trace. Like I said: grey zone 😉

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  4. OMG…wat is het daar mooi. Daar moet ik dus ook ooit nog naar toe!

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn iPad

    > Op 7 mrt. 2016 om 10:32 heeft walking womad het volgende geschreven: > > >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heel leerrijk verslag, ik en mijn vriendin zijn nog aan het kiezen tussen het Lake District en één van de eilanden dit voorjaar… Als je maar één week hebt, zou je eerder kiezen voor La Gomera of Tenerife?

    groeten Bart (en snel beter worden 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dankje Bart. Ai da’s geen gemakkelijke keuze. Maar ik denk dat Tenerife (maar dan wel weg van de touristische plaatsen!!!) toch mijn favoriet blijft, omdat ik het heel divers vind. Ik vind het zalig om door de verschillende vegetatielagen te wandelen. Van woestijnachtig, tot zalige zuiderse dennebossen tot alpien. Gomera is iets ‘eentoniger’ (wrong word really) maar ook echt prachtig. The Lake District is ook wel zalig, maar dan zeker minder warm en zonnig 😉 Enjoy!!!!

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  6. Hi there!
    Very nice description of the tour – looks great! Me and my boyfriend are talkning about hiking Tenerife in march. But the water issue worries me a bit, though. It’s a lot of water to carry, and I was hoping to get the chance to use my new water filter – but that sounds like a no-go.
    Also, are the trail you walked on Tenerife well marked? And how many villages did you get through on those 5 days? Can’t figure out either if it’s one single trail you took? And would you say it’s a bad idea to free camp with a tent on Tenerife?
    Thanks in advance. Love hiking – but the worst thing is the planning – especially when hiking multiple days, så hope you can help on these questions 🙂
    Best,
    Marlene

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    • Hey Marlene,
      ya, water is a bit of a challenge. However even though the conditions are “desert-like” it’s not like walking in a distant desert where there is zero civilization. You will find water in villages or sometimes in closed campgrounds… Anywhere where you find a tab ;c) So you’ll probably won’t need your filter. At least we didn’t use it. I can’t really remember how many villages we came through, but if you get in trouble (when you notice you hardly have water left), you mostly are in a walking distance to people or villages. It definitely is smart to carry some extra water though and always keep an eye on how much water you have left.
      It’s not a single trail we took. We just hiked a combo of local hiking trails and the GR 131 (you can find that info on Tenerifes map, I don’t know it by heart and I don’t have the map here with me, otherwise I’d check ;c) We found out the maps aren’t always to be trusted (some trails no longer exist, new ones pop up) so we also used Gaia GPS on our cell phone.
      We always camp wild on Tenerife and never had a problem. If you choose do so, please make sure you practice 100% Leave No Trace and keep some distance from villages (or you could also ask people of course if they’d let you camp on their private property).
      Have fun, it’s beautiful on Tenerife. One of my favorite places for hiking!
      Cheers
      Cat

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      • Thanks very much for the response. I’m probably a little nervous about breaking the rules regarding camping wild – or nervous of being caught doing it, at least 🙂 But I think that free camping is part of what I love about backpacking, so we’ll probably end up doing it anyway – with no traces of course!
        Just bought a map and guide book online – can’t wait for it to come, so I can begin planning the trip 🙂

        By the way – I’m in doubt about clothing in march. Will it be enough with wool underwear, fleece, and a thermal west? Or do I need a warmer jacket instead of just multiple layers?

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      • Last time I was there in March I was fine with my normal hiking Tshirt, a longarm Tshirt, and my lightweight down jacket. If I’d get cold, I would add my Patagonia wind jacket and my rain jacket. I never carry a fleece or wool underwear ;c) But I do always bring a warm hat and lightweight mittens. I bet you’ll be fine. While you’re hiking you won’t get cold, and when you get cold after you’re done hiking, you can just crawl into your sleeping bag ;c) Have fun!!!!

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  7. Love your report and the shots! Very nice trip you had. I was hiking the Arona road last year with some friends. Now I’ll be there alone and I wonder how it’s like to do the hike alone and sleeping in the tent, what do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

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