- Located on the island of La Gomera, province of Tenerife, Canary Islands.
- Declared National Park in 1981, UNESCO World Heritage in 1986 and Biosphere Reserve (together with the rest of the island) in 2012.
- Its approximate extension of 40 km2 (a little bigger than Central Park in New York City) makes it the smallest of the 15 Spanish National Parks, 20 times smaller than that Picos de Europa, which occupies the first place.
- However, it is the 5th most visited National Park in Spain, with approximately 630,000 visitors a year, with the vast majority of tourists taking a day trip from Tenerife.
- Its name comes from its highest peak, Garajonay’s Peak (Alto de Garajonay, 1,487 m), which comes itself from Gara and Jonay, two characters of popular culture and island folklore. There are different versions, the most popular being Gara as Princess of La Gomera and Jonay as Prince of Tenerife, who live a strange history of misunderstood love. (SPOILER: in the end they both commit suicide on top of the peak).
- The Monteverde or Canarian laurisilva forest, occupies 85% of the surface of the Park and is the reason of so many titles. Being able to walk miles through rainforest is not an easy thing to do in a European country. It is interesting and gratifying to see how almost all of Europe was long ago. These forests are redoubts of those, which have remained unchanged for about 60 million years. There are at least 20 different varieties of trees. Everything is covered by mosses and lichens, as well as different varieties of ferns.
- There are 120 types of plants with native Canarian flowers, some of them exclusive to the Park. Wildlife is unattractive to non-experts; there are reptiles and birds (also some of them endemic of the Canary Islands) and some mammals, all of small size.
- The Roques. This term is exclusively used in the Canary Islands to refer to very steep rocky elevations. They are monoliths of volcanic origin that can be in land or sea. In the Garajonay there are several, being the most remarkable the one of Agando, and other smaller ones like those of La Zarcita and Ojila.
- Alto de Garajonay is the highest point of the island.
I recommend at least one full day, ideally two:
- Guided tour:
- There are companies that offer tours for € 30 per person, including transportation and guides in Spanish, English and German.
- But you can also reserve the visit for free (in Spanish only) in person one day in advance at the Juego de Bolas Visitor Center, or by telephone (0034 922 80 09 93).
- Self-guided. Just need a map of the Park.
There are 18 well marked routes.
The most attractive are:
- For those who are interested only in the laurel forest:
- Trails 5, 10 and 12 are very close to each other, they are easy and short.
- Trails 3 and 6 (Laguna Grande).
- Climb to Alto de Garajonay: trails 7, 14, 17 and 18.
- 2. Lourdes hermit. A 2-km trail back and forth to the hermit.
- 9. Continuation of 2, passing through Las Mimbreras. Monteverde.
- 11. Hermigua plateau and Chorro del Cedro. 6.5 km, duration 4 hours, high difficulty, very steeped ramp to the base of the waterfall. An interesting option, since the landscape is different. The attractions are:
- There is less laurisilva and the landscape begins to mix with the agricultural, resulting a very pleasant combination.
- Chorro del Cedro waterfall.
- Optional: walk part of the route through a tunnel in the rock 500 meters long.
- 13. Roque de Agando.
- 18. Great circular route. Includes routes 2 and 9, and part of 7 and 8. 16 km, duration approximately 6 hours. Difficulty average, although the accumulated gap is 1200 meters. Main points of interest:
- Alto de Garajonay.
- The area of Las Mimbreras and the Hermit of Lourdes.
- Viewpoints of Los Roques, passing closer to those of Ojila and La Zarcita.
- And of course laurisilva.
TRANSPORT AND ACCOMMODATION
- The best option is to have your own vehicle or rental. The regional company CICAR is highly recommended. In the main urban centers there are offices of international companies.
- Bus (guagua). There are three lines that connect municipalities with each other and make stops in the Park or in its limits: lines 1 (central), 2 (from the North) and 3 (from the South). For itinerary information, prices and schedules see LA GOMERA, PRACTICAL INFORMATION.
- Taxi: in all the urban nuclei can be found, but economically it is very inadvisable.
There is no accommodation or any type of food supply within the Park. Visitors should stay in some village on the island and bring their own food and water.