La Gomera is blessed with an attractive virgin forest covering the upper slopes on the north side of the island. It is a laurisilva forest. This luscious intense greenery has been enriched with a variety of trees and plants that grow beacause of the combination of high humidity and constant temperature all year round. The Garajonay National Park is an ecological treasure of biodiversity. It was declared to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.
The park is named after the rock formation of Garajonay, the highest point on the island at 1,487 m (4,878 feet). It also includes a small plateau whose altitude is 790-1,400 m (2,600-4,600 feet) above sea level.
The humid and protected valleys oriented to the North, have the richest and densest forests. They are called valley laurisilva, a true subtropical rainforest where the largest laurel trees can be found. As we reach higher altitudes, with less protection from wind and sun, the forest loses some of its more delicate species. It is called the slope laurisilva (laurisilva de ladera). At the south the forest is mainly a mix of beech and heather, species adapted to the less humid atmosphere.
Another attraction of the National Park is the massive rocks that are found along the island. These are former volcanos whose shape has been sharpened by erosion. Some, like the “Fortaleza” (fortress in Spanish) were considered sacred by the original inhabitants, as well as ideal refugees when attacked. The park is crisscrossed by a large network of foot paths, trekking being one of the main touristic activities in the island.
A nearby charming hamlet called El Cedro offers a great number of starting points for walking paths passing along small streams, a highly recommended restaurant “la Vista” is a typical place to stop and regain your energy with a hot wooden bowl of Potaje de Berros (water cress soup).
A visit to the Juego de Bolas visitors centre located on the high part of Agulo can serve as a good guide to the Park. The centre offers information related to Garajonay, including Botanic Gardens, which have some endemic species you will later find in this wildness jewel.
La Gomera is a hiker’s heaven, well-marked trails, along old pathways offering walks for every ambition. Information about paths, maps and professional guides are found in all tourism offices.
Tie up your boots and enjoy it!