La Gomera – Canary Islands (08.09.17)

Hidden like a distant spirit island off Africa’s Western Sahara coastline, La Gomera radiates a lost world ambiance. With dramatic mountains, lush jungle, deserted beaches, steep ravines, 4,000m sheer mountain paths, over-the-horizon-Latino dominated cultures and fairy-tale volcanic views.

It is without doubt one of the most stunning islands in the world.

Easily accessible from Europe, this second smallest Canary Island (22 kms in diameter) sits lush and mountainous like a circular gemstone amid an Atlantic archipelago brooch. In the Garajonay National Park, a protected UNESCO Heritage Site, high peaks catch the ever-moist ocean trade winds which water the magnificent moss-coated laurel forest, spreading over 70% of the land.

Visitors can roam the innumerable mountain paths that criss-cross the island and enjoy the differing micro-climates that so effectively sustain the ancient rainforests and warm temperate woodlands – which of course used to be prevalent all over Europe and North Africa thousands of years ago. You don’t need to be too active an environmentalist either, to appreciate the uniqueness of the landscape, with between 40-60% endemic invertebrate fauna and an extraordinary abundance of plant life. It is all the more remarkable when you consider its proximity to the Sahara desert.

Furthermore the island retains its historical link with South America, not only as Christopher Columbus’s last eastern Atlantic port before sailing westwards in 1492, but also through the rich modern-day influences from returning Latin American residents. A Latino beat and salsa cuisine have always been much more in evidence than any flamenco or Iberian gastronomy. One of the delights is the local vino accompanied by cheese, goat and roasted pork tapas as well as cooking specialities rounded off with Meil de Palma syrup extract, from the island’s palm trees.

We at Nomadic Thoughts highly recommend a visit whether as a standalone trip, or as a side trip from Tenerife, or one of the other Canary Islands. The spectacular inland scenery with magical Mt Teide, Tenerife views can be combined with the charming coastal areas. When exploring the island, viewpoints along the way (particularly Mirador de Agando and Mirador de Vallehermoso) allow for some jaw-dropping scenery dominated by steep mountains, traditional farm terracing and ever-so-remote hamlets, villages and settlements.

The clifftop restaurant at Mirador de Abranteis is a real favourite, with phenomenal views above the village of Agulo. Similarly, the mountain bowl setting of Cacti, charming Playa de Santiago to Valle Gran Rey drive and unfolding array of palm-fringed valleys, black sand beaches, ancient forests and crystal-clear Atlantic waters complement the island’s World Biosphere Reserve status.