Garajonay National Park
La Gomera, Spain
You can choose between various hikes in Garajonay National Park. We followed ruta 18 which is the longest trail in the national park, a 16 kilometres circular route called Gran Ruta Circular Garajonay through the rain forest.
El Contadero Parking
Length of time
Shoes to choose
Trail running shoes are just fine
Driving from San Sebastian to Garajonay takes about 1 hour along serpentine road GM-2 taking you higher and higher up in the mountains. The road bringsgreat views of the landscape that changes as you drive further up.
A rather chocking experience for us was to see how the temperature quickly decreased from 21 degrees and sunny in San Sebastian to 7 degrees and cloudy in Garajonay. Nothing strange about that since you go from 0 metres height to well above 1,000 metres.
We totally missed this thing about the temperature. Wearing shorts and a t-shirt like we did surely felt a bit cold when we arrived in Garajonay. Seeing all the other tourists wearing gloves, hiking boots, hats and jackets did not make us feel any better. Like tourists on their first hike...
Luckily we had brought a sweater to wear and we know that walking often quickly makes you warm enough. After the first 5 minutes we did not freeze at all and even took off our sweaters from time to time during the hike.
There is a tourist information in La Laguna Grande Centro de Información right by the nationalpark. That is a good starting point to get more information.
There we were adviced not to walk the 16 kilometres trail since that one is "very strenuous and probably too difficult" for us. Maybe it was our outfit that lead him to give us this advice. Of course we head off for the 16 kilometres hike!
Starting point for the hike in Garajonay
There are several starting points for this hike. One is Aparcamiento de Cruce de Pajaritos. Another one is El Contadero right after Pajaritos and about 1-2 kilometres before the visitor´s centre driving from San Sebastian. A third parking lot is by the restaurant in El Cedro.
If you plan to have lunch halfway in El Cedro starting in Pajaritos or El Contadero is to prefer.
In most of the parkings there are parking lots for about 10 cars and we had no problem finding a parking around 11 a.m. Parking is for free. You can also go here by bus from San Sebastian.
Along your way you pass through different kinds of ecosystems. The first part of hike starting in El Contadero is a 5 kilometres easy and long descent through a laurel forest passing along and across several streams and giant ebony trees of the ravine bottoms close to the running streams.
After 5 kilometres you reach a few houses in the village of El Cedro (photo below). Looking ahead you see a restaurant on the left hand side of the canyon. Most people walk here and then turn back to the parking. That is about a 10 kilometres beautiful walk.
A farmhouse just outside the village of El Cedro
The restaurant in El Cedro is simple but charming and you are served fish and meat in a traditional Spanish way. Perfect for a break if you did not bring your own picknick lunch.
Continuing along trail 18 from El Cedro takes you to the really lovely parts of this hike. It is a little longer and involves an ascent.
Follow this stone cobbled road
until you reach a crossing
It was a bit difficult to find the way from the restaurant in El Cedro so we had to go back once, but then it was easy to find.
From the restaurant, walk back along the trail until you come to a small white farm (photo above right). Turn left just before the farm by the sign along a rather steep path. Follow the path until you come to an open space and a parking. Follow the trail. After a short while you will arrive to at stonecobbled small road (photo above left). Follow this road until you reach a crossing.
Then follow the signs to Los Roques and Alto de Garajonay, trail number 18.
We really loved this part of the hike. It was totally different from anything we had seen before and we loved walking with the clouds literally hanging around us. All the birds singing all around us gave us the feeling of being in a fairytale.
A long part of the second half of the trail actually follows road CV-14 which, when looking at the map was a bit deterrant. It turned out it did not bother us at all. You do not see the road from the trail and there were not many cars passing by.
A strange thing was that, even if we were there in the middle of the day and high season, we hardly met any people at all. Most people seemed to park their car at one of the parking lots and walk just a short part of the trail.
After the hike we had well enough time to drive all the way round La Gomera passing by Vallehermoso, Agulo and Hermigua. Our favourite among the villages was Hermigua, with a beautiful setting in a ravine.
Maybe you are also interested in these lovely hikes in the Canary Islands