Sunday, April 12, 2015

La Gomera, Degollada de Peraza - Los Roques

We went to La Gomera for four days during this Easter Break (Semana Santa). (Now we've visited all the big Canary Islands except El Hierro).

Admittedly, four day are not enough to explore even La Gomera properly, but we had a  good go at it. Our kids are still not that keen on walking, so I had to plan only some very short and not too up-and-downy routes. Even so, a couple of times I had to leave them somewhere in the shade to wait for me and went ahead on my own.

The little research on the possible routes that I'd made before we went pulled up a place name "Degollada de Peraza" a few times, and I was happy to discover it mentioned on the timetables of the local buses.*

Several websites mentioned a circular walk that you can take from Degollada (in Canaries meaning mountain pass). The problem with the suggested walk from my point of view was the initial descent to the Laja village, followed by the ascent to Los Roques, both quite sharp and exposed to the sun. I decided to try a much softer option, which is a linear walk to Los Roques and  then back. It looked a lot flatter and more shady on the maps - both true assumptions, as we found later.

To illustrate a bit - the picture above is a view from Degollada. On the opposite side of the valley and on the left you can see a group of houses close to the bottom. That is Laja village. With the circular route you go all the way down there and then up again. Instead, we went inland along the crest, staying on the same side of the valley, along the ubiquitous and well-signposted GR131 path. Los Roques, a group of volcanic plugs where I was aiming, is maybe about 4 km away from the Degollada.

The path goes up some stairs first, then ascends gently for about two kilometers. Towards the end of the ascent, 1.9 km from the start, there is a hermitage of some saint, with a large area with tables, stone shelters, and (non-drinking) water taps. There I left the kids, as I realized that it took us a whole hour to cover those not-quite-two-kilometers, and we had a bus to catch. I assumed from my map study that I had about two kilometers more to go and told the kids that I will be back in one hour. To my amazement, I saw a distance marker a little way off, claiming that in fact I had 3.5 km to walk to the Roque de Agando viewpoint (Mirador de Roque de Agando), the most impressive of them all. I was somewhat perplexed at having made such a big mistake, but decided to walk on and see what happens. 

At the end of March (we made the walk on the 31st) some of the flowers were already wilting. The Canarian marguerite daisies were still around in big round pillows (at the bottom of the picture above), but they were losing petals and didn't look that great close up. I think La Gomera is not as sharply rain dependent as Fuerteventura, where you count on flowers some time after a big rain comes, and there are years that rain doesn't come at all. I think La Gomera is more season-y so for the flowers it might make sense to come in mid-March.

The shelter area where I left the kids was on the edge of a small forest, and I went up a forest path for another little while, meeting two large groups of walkers coming in the opposite direction, probably on the last leg  of the circular route. The path started to descend and, once the trees were out of the way, I saw what I came to see - Los Roques (the top photo). I was not that wrong after all, distance-wise - it transpired that Roque de Agando itself  and its Viewpoint (Mirador) are about 1.5 km apart, Mirador being further on. I don't quite get why the distance specified on the marker was to the Mirador, since you come to the Roque first, but well, there you go.

Once I came down the slope closer to Roque de Agando and took a few pics that satisfied me, I had a choice of either trying to get to that viewpoint or turn back. I decided to walk for fifteen-twenty minutes more and see if it gives me a different view. As it turned out, the path went into another forest and started climbing up, so I didn't get my view before turning  back, but I already had my fill of beautiful landscapes for the day.

The picture above shows the markers for GR131 (dark red), and for the circular route that I didn't take this time (white). One day I will.

I can say about the linear route that I did take that it is reasonably easy, partially in the shade, has nice views all the way apart from the forest path towards the end. Teide on Tenerife is seen almost all the time. If you walk to the Mirador (I didn't, mind), that will be 11 km both ways, if you just want to get to see the Roques - about 8. I am sure the circular route is spectacular, but I would strongly suggest either winter or overcast days or both for taking it, as it looks very exposed to the sun and it is (obviously) longer and more difficult. At Degollada de Peraza there is a bar/restaurant that stays open every day whole day (or so they told me), so you can relax there after your walk.
* The buses are few and far between, btw. Our landlady provided us with an extremely useful bit of extra knowledge - the airport buses, the lines 6 and 7, work also as "normal" buses, that is, pick people up and let them off on any bus stop in between the final points. There are just two daily flights to La Gomera (check it in case it changes), and the bus schedule is linked to the flight. It is useful to know that usually the buses leave the airport only 10-15 minutes after the arrival of the flight - it doesn't take long for a small plane to unload the passengers and the luggage. We stayed in a fishing  village Playa de Santiago very close to the airport. When the small Binter plane flew in directly overhead it meant that we had about twenty minutes to get to the bus stop.

Pics of La Gomera on shutterstock - here

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