European Mountains, Spain

La Gomera, Canary Islands, Dec 27 2008 - Jan 3 2009
 


 

For tourist information about the Canary Islands and La Gomera, please refer to the many excellent guidebooks available on the market.  This page only gives a very brief introduction and is mainly an index for the trip reports to the mountain tops visited.

 

La Gomera is located approx. 30km west of Tenerife. Most visitors fly to Tenerife and arrive at La Gomera on jetfoil or ferry. The main port is San Sebastian de la Gomera, located on the southeast side of the island. Other larger towns are Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago and Vallehermoso. The towns are "drowsy", and few visit La Gomera for its beaches. If you are in search of tranquillity, you just might find it here.

La Gomera is excellent for hiking, and a large number of established trails can be found all over the island. Regardless of which town you stay in, a rental car is recommended. The road system is truly amazing (the roads reach the most amazing places) but due to an "infinite" number of curves, getting around on the island takes time..

Approaching San Sebastian

Approaching San Sebastian (Click for larger image)

 

The island is astonishingly beautiful, and every part of it has its unique scenery. The Garajonay national park (Parque Nacional de Garajonay) covers the central part of the island. Natural monuments (Monumento Natural) such as Los Roques, Fortaleza, Roque Blanco and Los Organos are must-see places.

 

Los Roques

Los Roques (Click for larger image)

 

The highest point is Garajonay peak (1487m). Every ridge on the island eventually connects to Garajonay, so there is truly only one prominent mountain on the island. Some of the other lower tops have names, but the majority has not. About a dozen other tops meet the generally accepted criteria of a mountain top (primary factor >= 100m).  


 

Our trip

The trip reports (once they have been created) can be found by following links in the below table;

28/12/09 La Merica, Point 839m ("El dedo")
29/12/09 Garajonay, Fortaleza, Mirador El Santo
30/12/09 Roque Carmona, Monta˝a de Yerta, Point 1045m, Tagamiche, Roque de la Zarcita
31/12/09 Tejeleche, Roque de Mona
1/1/10 Roque de Ojila
2/1/10 Lomo de Harinero, Monta˝a Del Adivino, Monta˝a de Guergenche 

Timeline

Dec 26: Leaving ┼lesund

Dec 27: Jardin del Conde

Dec 28: La Merica

Dec 29: Garajonay

Dec 29: Fortaleza

Dec 26 2009
Leaving ┼lesund. Can't say I'm sorry

Dec 27 2009
Hotel Jardin del Conde in Valle Gran Rey

Dec 28 2009
La Merica above Valle Gran Rey

Dec 29 2009
Garajonay - the island high point

Dec 29 2009
Fortaleza de Chipude - "the fortress"

Dec 30: Roque Carmona

Dec 30: Montana de Yerta

Dec 30: Point 1045m

Dec 30: Tagamiche

Dec 30: Roque de la Zarcita

Dec 30 2009
Roque Carmona - our first top in Los Roques

Dec 30 2009
Monta˝a de Yerta - an easy stroll

Dec 30 2009
Point 1045m and a cool sandstone ridge

Dec 30 2009
Tagamiche - easy hike and good views

Dec 30 2009
Roque de la Zarcita in Los Roques

Dec 31: Tejeleche

Dec 31: Roque de Mona

Jan 1: Roque de Ojila

Jan 2: Lomo de Harinero

Jan 4: Back home

Dec 31 2009
4 tops on the Tejeleche massif
Dec 31 2009
Roque de Mona - an ugly coastal top
Jan 1 2010
Roque de Ojila in Los Roques - Super!
Jan 2 2010
Lomo de Harinero + 2 other tops + a gorge
Jan 4 2010
Back at Vigra airport. It's cold winter.

 

Background

The image of a burning sun, overcrowded beaches, and drunk Norwegians everywhere has for a long time made me fairly confident that I would never set foot on the Canary islands (or any of the Mediterranean tourist spots for that matter). But, the Norwegian summers are short, and during 2009 I began contemplating a post-Christmas trip to a warmer place. Late in 2009, the project seemed to amount to nothing at all, but after mentioning the idea to Anne Rudsengen, she decided to join in and came up with La Gomera as a possible destination. After making sure there were mountains on this island, the trip was on.

Getting there

The (charter) plane would leave from Oslo Dec 27, early morning. As there was no way I could get from ┼lesund to Oslo that early on the 2nd day of Christmas, I booked a flight to Oslo for Dec 26 and a room at an airport hotel. As nearly all flights were full, I had to take the morning flight from ┼lesund. That would give me a whole day at the airport hotel, but I could always bring my laptop and do some work.

On Dec 25, I searched a time table on the net, looking which express boat would connect me from Hareidlandet to the morning flight. To my surprise, the first boat left at the same time as the plane. After enjoying the sensation of strong disappointment, I was angry. I rang the boat company (Tide), and they were really sorry that there was no way of getting me to the airport that early, and promised to "bring this issue forward".

This meant that I would have to get to ┼lesund and spend the night at a hotel. I called 5 hotels and none answered. But then the Radisson answered and told me that "they were always open". I got on the 6:30pm ferry to ┼lesund and drove the hotel. It was closed. I redialled the number and the Radisson answered. "Where are you guys", I asked. "Trondheim", they replied. It turned out that Radisson ┼lesund was closed for Christmas and had just forwarded the phone to a different hotel in a different city.

Knowing that none of the other hotels I knew of were open.
I had just started considering calling around to friends when I noticed the "First Hotel" sign. I had never heard about this hotel before, and it looked closed. I went over to make sure, and - holy cow! - they were open.

I had to park my "Tiger" (the car..) next to the cabs/taxis, and with three open bars in close proximity, I didn't sleep a wink until the city settled down at about 5am in the morning. It's just amazing how much drunken people can howl and scream! Just as I was moving into the land of short, but sweet dreams, I woke up from people running all over the hotel. My first thought was "fire!", but there was no alarm. Realizing that I wouldn't fall asleep again, I went down for an early breakfast. An ambulance was leaving just as I entered the hotel reception. Apparently, someone had become seriously ill. But the car was safe and sound. No broken windows, and no flat tires. It seemed that I would make it to the airport after all...

The plane was delayed 1,5 hour or so, but that didn't matter much. I was only going to another hotel. I checked into the airport hotel where Anne joined me later in the day. Reaching Oslo - the first part of the project - had now been accomplished...

 

┼lesund by night

┼lesund by night (Click for larger image)

The 8:10am plane from Oslo left fairly on time. The 6-hour flight to Tenerife was boring, especially as we both got aisle seats. No sleep, as people continuously kept bumping into me. At Tenerife airport, charter guides pointed us towards our bus which took us to Los Cristianos harbour. Our destination was Valle Gran Rey at La Gomera. The boat that would take us there would leave in 3 hours, and stop by San Sebastian and Playa de Santiago along the way. As this was a 2-hour boat trip, we wouldn't reach the hotel until late in the evening.

But there was a ferry to San Sebastian which was just about to leave. At the last minute, we decided to change our tickets - assuming it would be better to wait 3 hours in San Sebastian than in Los Cristianos. This was done on pure instinct, and only time would tell if our instincts had been good.

Leaving Los Cristianos

Leaving Los Cristianos (Click for larger image)

 

It's really hard to say which is a better place to wait - Los Cristianos or San Sebastian. After a couple of cervezas, the idea of taking a taxi was born, and we got in line - behind seven Germans who were fed up with waiting. About an hour after arriving at San Sebastian, it was our turn. We negotiated the fare to La Puntilla in Valle Gran Rey down to 60 Euros.

The drive across the island was nice. This was clearly a very beautiful island. Interesting rocks and mountains popped up everywhere, and I already started looking forward to next day's hike. The drive to Valle Gran Rey took about an hour, and I was stilly dizzy from the curvy road as we checked into the hotel Jardin del Conde. The place looked nice and the holiday was finally on!

 

Jardin del Conde

Jardin del Conde (Click for larger image)

 


 

The Stay

The stay was absolutely brilliant, and is covered in the trip reports (see table higher up). Some of the tops were easy strolls from high trailheads, other tops demanded a longer walk and even scrambling. And if there was a flight directly from Gursk°ya to La Gomera, I would certainly go back there...

 

Roque -Z-

"Roque Z" (Click for larger image)

 


Getting home

Jan 3 2010 5:30am, we got on the bus that took us to the Playa de Vueltas harbour. The jetfoil left on time at 6:30am, and stopped by Playa de Santiago and San Sebastian before continuing to Los Cristianos on Tenerife. A shuttle bus took us to the airport, where a a little bit of a nightmare began. After a 3 hour wait, we could proceed to the check-in. Our flight seemed to be on-time, but a computer screen holding 30 incoming flights showed that 27 others were delayed. Rumours said that in addition to strong winds, there was a strike going on in the control tower. And there was an insane queue in front of security. Rumours also said that there hadn't been this many passengers in years.

Once through security, we went to our gate which said "Oslo 14:00". After a while,  "new gate" info came up. But it didn't say which gate. To make a long story short, we went to and fro a number of gates, and it was absolute chaos.

Eventually, we found the correct gate, and a representative from the charter company (Apollo) informed us that because of a technical problem, 47 passengers could not board the plane. They were going to board families with children, then passengers with business class tickets, and then ... well they would figure something out. The rest of us were told to sit down and wait while they worked out a plan.

Naturally, very few chose to sit down as it was evident that sharp elbows could come in handy. A family with a pregnant woman came through. So did a few young people above 16 who were attending school the next day. I saw the opportunity to "plead" for those of us who had connecting flights (even if it was the next day). I was ignored, but I didn't give up. There were still a few seats left, and the guy seemed to run out of priority reasons. A few minutes later, I repeated my point of view. "Not my problem", he responded. "Take the matter to the insurance company". 

But my efforts were not in vain; they still had 6 seats to fill and suddenly we heard; "how many have connecting flights?". 5 people responded promptly. We were in! On the way to the plane it struck me that in all this chaos - people seemed to have been absolutely honest. It would have been easy for anyone to raise their hand in response to the question of connecting flights. Heck, even pretending to be pregnant would have worked like a charm. 

We left Tenerife 2,5 hours late, but that didn't matter at all. Anne and I got the best seats on the plane (the two-seat row next to the emergency exit) and I was only going to yet-another-airport-hotel in Oslo. The flight to Oslo took 5h:15m and the temperature change was brutal; +20 deg. C. at Tenerife and -17 in Oslo.

My Jan 4 morning flight to ┼lesund was only delayed by one hour. I had a bit of a shock when I got to the parking lot and saw my "Tiger" covered by 50cm of snow. 30 minutes later, the car was on the road and my hands were shaking from the cold. On the way to the Sulesund - Hareid ferry, I bought a sandwich at a petrol station, and less than 2 hours after getting home, I was so sick that I could hardly stand on my feet. The next 5 days were spent in bed. I'm pretty confident I've bought my last sandwich at a petrol station..

At Vigra Airport

At Vigra Airport (Click for larger image)

 

 

Pictures, Oslo - La Gomera

The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 300D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6

 

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┼lesund - La Gomera, Dec 27 & 28 2009

1. Leaving ┼lesund 2. Leaving Tenerife 3. Leaving Tenerife 4. Leaving Tenerife 5. El Teide 6. Approaching La Gomera 7. San Sebastian 8. San Sebastian 9. On the way to Valle Gran Rey 10. Cool rocks everywhere 11. Roque del Sombrero 12. Roque de Agando 13. Lomo de Harinero 14. Our hotel in La Puntilla, Valle Gran Rey 15. Our hotel in La Puntilla, Valle Gran Rey 16. Our hotel in La Puntilla, Valle Gran Rey

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