Hotel Tamahuche in Vallehermoso for three nights.
We suggest two walks for your days here, though you may simply prefer to relax on one (or both!) of them. The first is a great introduction to the landscapes of La Gomera, taking you up through a terraced, palm-clad barranco (ravine) to a hermitage. From here you can see the coast and even the island of Tenerife in the distance in clear weather. You then follow the ridge to another hermitage, from where you zigzag downhill towards the coast, returning to Vallehermoso along a quiet country lane. (11km, 3.5hrs) This walk can be extended to 13km if desired.
For the second, take a taxi (pay locally) to Igualero from where you embark upon a lovely varied walk starting above the deepest and most remote canyon on the island, Barranco de Erque. You pass through a number of hamlets each with its own watering hole to help you on your way, followed by shady forest and finally a cultivated, flowery valley, before dropping back down into Vallerhermoso. (19.5km, 7.5hrs) You can shorten the walk by starting at one of the intervening villages.
The day begins with a taxi ride (included) to El Contadero, beneath the peak of Garajonay in the centre of the island. After possibly ascending the peak itself (200m ascent - add 1km, 1hr), you walk into the heart of the Garajonay National Park, passing through laurisilva, heath, myrtle and cypress trees. After a short climb over the Alto de la Atalya, the walk is almost all downhill, taking you first on a magnificent route that zigzags down ancient cobbled paths through shady laurisilva and on into a dramatic gorge, where pretty waterfalls along a gurgling stream provide many enticing places for your picnic lunch. Arriving in Hermigua, you spend the next two nights at the Ibo Alfaro, an attractive rural hotel. (16km, 6hrs)
Our optional circular walk climbs out of the valley to explore the starker landscapes above Hermigua, which contrast greatly with the green of the banana plantations and the blue of the sea below. You pass an abandoned hamlet with views across the water towards Tenerife, and then follow a cliff-hugging coastal path to the pretty cove of Caleta, where you can enjoy a swim in good weather before completing the final leg back to Hermigua. (17km, 6hrs)
After a taxi transfer (included), you set off along old cobbled paths, gradually descending down a broad ridge dotted with cacti towards the peak of Tagamiche, around which the path skirts. You enjoy constant views ahead towards majestic El Teide, crowning the distant island of Tenerife, as you continue down to the coast at San Sebastián. Your final two nights are spent at the Parador here. (14km, 5hrs)
Choose between a relaxing day exploring San Sebastián, the island's capital, or a final rewarding walk south along the coast to remote La Guancha. This secluded beach of dark volcanic sands and turquoise waters – that can only be accessed on foot – provides an idyllic setting at which to relax and reflect on your discovery of this spectacular and varied island. (10km, 4hrs)
To El Teide Extension (not available 16 December 2014-13 February 2015)
Since we recommend that you fly via Tenerife, why not enjoy a couple of incredible walks on this equally dramatic island, home to Spain's highest mountain, El Teide, by adding on three nights at the Parador in Tenerife's National Park? (See price panel for details.)
On Tenerife you collect your included hire car and drive into the centre of the island, and the volcanic, desert-like scenery of the Teide National Park. It is a striking landscape, made all the more special by the silence, the views and the astonishing colours, of which tones of yellow, red, brown and ochre dominate. Although it is very dry, the Park is home to a wide variety of plants, 50 of which are endemic to the Canary Islands, including the Teide violet. High above, Egyptian vultures, sparrow hawks and red kites patrol the blue skies, watching for reptiles such as the tizon lizard. You will probably have time for an unforgettable walk past the various weird and wonderful rock formations of the Roques de García. Many of these striking natural monuments resemble fingers pointing into the sky, and another looks like a cathedral, with several tower-like formations. (7km, 2hrs)
For your first day at the Parador, we suggest an easy circular route that leads across the volcanic landscape once more and incorporates a ride on the cable car (pay locally) to just below El Teide's summit. (You can only access the actual summit itself if you have obtained a permit – click here for how to apply online via email before you travel.) From here, it is well worth walking to the Mirador de la Fortaleza for views not only of the ironically named Montaña Blanca ('White Mountain', which is actually coated in black lava) but also, in clear weather, the entire north side of the island, all the way to the north-eastern tip. A second viewpoint overlooks the southern part of the island as well as giving a wonderful overview of El Teide's cauldron-shaped crater. (13.5km, 4.5hrs plus detours to viewpoints)
Your final walk explores a veritable lunar landscape, revealing more of the extraordinary petrified lava formations so typical of the Teide National Park, and affording yet more memorable views as it leads to the peak of Monte Guajara (2,718 metres) before returning along the same route. (14km, 6hrs)