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Hiking in the Canary Islands

The wondrous geography of western North America inspires devotion bordering on religious among U.S. and Canadian hikers. But if you brush away the dust of mythology, it’s apparent: We’ve got a lot, but we don’t have it all. And we certainly don’t have anything like the Canary Islands.

During a three-month sojourn in which we hiked nearly every day on five of the Canaries’ seven principal islands, we were frequently in awe. We kept grasping for comparisons: The Grand Canyon’s Hermit Trail? Peru’s Inca Trail? Scotland’s West Highland Way? Hawaii’s Na Pali Coast Trail? British Columbia’s West Coast Trail? Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail? Mt. Rainier’s Wonderland Trail? This is precisely why hiking the Canaries is a singular experience: It comprises elements of all these iconic pathways. So we’re eagerly returning to the Canary Islands next year: January 6 through January 22. This is your invitation to come with us.

You’ll enjoy an affordable yet luxurious, hiking-focused vacation. You’ll capitalize on the exhaustive reconnaissance we’ve done on these enthralling isles. You’ll discover a warm, sunny, winter-hiking haven that deserves primacy on every ardent hiker’s life-list.

Our group of hikers will be small (nine people max), screened by us for on-trail compatibility. All will be accomplished, athletic, aspiring. Together we’ll approach the hiking the way friends always do, with someone (in this case, us—Kathy and Craig) offering advice based on knowledge of the area. We won’t be guiding per se. Instead, think of us as your scouts.

We’ll visit La Gomera, La Palma, and Tenerife. The local airline will conveniently whisk us between the islands. On each one, we’ll all drive our own rental cars—in caravan—to and from the trailheads. We’ll devote our days to hiking the premier trails. Afterward we’ll return to our comfortable, modern apartments. And every evening we’ll have the opportunity to stroll: immersing ourselves in charming, stimulating, urban enclaves.

We’ll always have the flexibility to dine as we choose. We’ll never lack for variety. We’ll have quick access to small-but-wellstocked grocery stores, fresh fruit-and-veggie shops, superb German bakeries; and all kinds of cuisine including Spanish, Indonesian, East Indian, and traditional Canarian fare emphasizing seafood fresh from the Atlantic Ocean.

Unlike guided hiking, with its inherent restrictions, handholding, and invisibly inflated prices (tour companies profit by charging you far more than they pay— for everything), the trip with us will be financially transparent. You’ll see the actual costs, and that’s all you’ll pay. This makes our Canary Islands hiking vacation as inexpensive as possible.

Your one additional investment will be $1800 CAD per person for our counsel and organization. Throughout the journey, you’ll benefit from our knowledge— painstakingly acquired while living in the Canaries last winter. Early on, we realized North American hikers are unaware of the Canaries. Nobody we met was from our continent! So we went on patrol for you.

We researched accommodations, sampled restaurants, poured over maps, scoured foreign-language guidebooks, talked and hiked with locals, drove and re-drove the roads, scrutinized all the possible trails, wore the tread off a couple pairs of hiking boots each, then tweezed out the optimal itinerary.

For 25 years we’ve been writing and publishing, motivated by a desire to share with others the joy, wonder, and exhilaration we’ve found in the world’s supreme hiking destinations. Our motivation now is to share them with you in person.

Intrigued? Peruse the accompanying details. Then send your questions to us: nomads@hikingcamping.com. If we’re not in the backcountry, we’ll respond quickly.

 

— Kathy & Craig

The Opinionated Hikers

On patrol for you

Go here for photos


What to Expect

Climate

The Canary Islands have a subtropical climate granting them comfortably-warm winters. Temperatures are mild and stable year-round within the range of 18° to 24°C (64° to 75°F). What North Americans consider extreme cold or oppressive heat never occur.

The islands we’ll be visiting—La Gomera, La Palma, and Tenerife—are so steeply and deeply pleated that the weather can vary markedly within a short distance. Dense cloud and rain might linger in one place, while not far away the sun prevails in a blue sky.

Winter in the Canaries is rainier than summer, but Santa Cruz de Tenerife, for example, averages only 214 mm (8.4 inches) of rain per year. Winter in the Canaries also tends to be windier than summer. Occasionally, a strong, hot, dusty, African born wind called “la calima” will persist for several days in winter.

We were in the Canaries most of last winter. Though it was much windier and rainier than normal, we hiked nearly every day. From our perspective, the weather was usually agreeable for hiking, and often ideal. Occasionally, we shifted our plans after studying pinpoint forecasts. We hiked wherever a particular micro-climate was most favorable.

Scenery

The North Atlantic Ocean is often visible while hiking the Canary Islands. Some trails follow the coastline for long distances and occasionally swoop within earshot of the crashing surf. Great swells—row upon row of tidal infantry assaulting the islands’ rampart shores—are an enthralling sight.

On clear days, several of the islands are visible from each other. Their proximity is startling. Their verticality is astounding. In particular, the often snow-capped, 3,718-m (12,198-ft) Pico del Teide is a gripping sight no matter how many times you’ve glimpsed it. Teide is a volcano. Essentially, it is the island of Tenerife. No mountain in all of Spain is higher. No point on any Atlantic Ocean island is higher. If measured from the ocean floor, Teide is 7,500 m (24,600 ft) from base to summit. That makes it the world’s highest volcano outside the Hawaiian Islands.

The Canaries’ micro-climates, ranging from arid to lush, foster eye-popping botanical diversity. Dragon trees are grand, girthy-limbed, umbrella-like marvels that live hundreds of years. A few individual “Dragos” are so ancient and enormous they’re tourist attractions. Canary pines are stout giants that tower 60 m (197 ft) high. The canopies of laurel forests are so thick they cause wind-driven mist to condense in such volume it’s a significant water source. Canarian palms are a ubiquitous, happy reminder that shovelling snowy walkways and scraping icy windshields are unheard of here. As for blossoms, a hot-house profusion of brilliant colors keeps winter visitors entranced. And, as you’d expect on islands rife with rain shadows and whose nearest neighbors are Morocco and the Western Sahara, cacti and succulents flourish here. In short, the Canary Islands are to botany what the Galapagos Islands are to zoology.

Unlike most of Europe, architecture doesn’t rank high on the Canaries’ list of spectacles. But what this culture lacks in design-and-construction flair, it occasionally makes up for with a paint palette so varied and bold that a stroll through some neighborhoods could cure a bout of depression. In contrast, other Canarian villages remain white washed. They do it for the practical reason that white paint reflects sunlight. But it appears to be an intentional, soothing counterpoint to their neighbors’ unrestrained, polychromatic explosions.

Trails

The Canary islands are small. They’ve been inhabited for more than 1,000 years. They now have teeming cities. And their dreamy climate and dramatic scenery make them a prized holiday destination for northern Europeans, many of whom come to hike. So there’s no wilderness on the Canary Islands. Appreciating the Canaries requires North American hikers to shift their paradigm and embrace contradiction.

The Canaries’ neolithic aboriginals, the Guanches, bequeathed to their conquerers a network of footpaths that the Spanish then renovated and expanded. The endless, excruciating toil required to construct these trails is unimaginable to us today. Meticulously engineered, laid with immense, stone blocks, these aren’t just trails. They’re world wonders. They cross mountains, traverse cliffs, wind in and out of canyons, and link otherwise isolated, seaside villages by piercing terrain so sheer and unstable it’s not economically feasible to build and service roads. But without the Canaries’ recent population surge, tourism boom, and subsequent wealth, these wondrous trails would have been lost to entropy. They could not be maintained as they are now. Today, Canarians fully grasp that visiting hikers, hence world-class trails, are critical to their prosperity.

Yes, you’ll be staying in towns and cities, and you’ll be driving highways. But the Canaries’ tumultuous topography ensures you’ll be immersed in nature when hiking. Yes, Canaries’ trails occasionally nip through villages—some abandoned, others vital—but this adds a piquant, cultural spice to hiking that we never taste in North America. Yes, you’ll see a few other hikers on Canarian trails. You’ll meet primarily Germans, Dutch, and Scandanavians. But these momentary encounters are cheerful, and the compelling scenery keeps everyone blissed-out, unconcerned when passing others.

Of course, solitude is sustenance to serious hikers. So you’ll be glad to know our group will sometimes be alone. Overall, Canarian trails will grant us serenity comparable to what you can expect when dayhiking the more popular trails in the Canadian Rockies.

The “no evidence of humanity” standard, against which North American hikers tend to gauge the quality of a hike, does not apply in the Canaries or elsewhere in Europe. But the advantages of this nonwilderness hiking are myriad: a bountiful trail network, light daypacks, comfy beds, hot showers, apartment kitchens, fresh groceries, fine restaurants, cold beer, excellent wine, cross-cultural insight, live music, art, and the joy of people-watching among international company.

Exertion

We’ll be together for sixteen days. Eight of those days we intend to do a significant hike: approximately five to eight hours on the trail, gaining 700 m (2297 ft) to 1100 m (3609 ft) of elevation over the course of perhaps 13 km (8 mi) to 24 km (15 mi). Five of our sixteen days together we’ll hike three to four hours on shorter trails requiring less elevation gain. So you’ll need a high level of fitness to fully participate in this trip. Inclement weather, however, could require us to scale back or abort our plans on a few days. Moreover, everything we’ve scheduled for our group is optional. If you want a rest day while the others go hiking, that’s fine. Or we might be able to suggest a shorter version of the hike the others in our group are doing.

Group Leaders

In our guidebooks, we sift out all the inferior options, ushering you onto the most scenically-rewarding trails. When planning this trip for you, our intent was the same. You could call this the Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canary Islands hiking-focused vacation.

Our Canadian Rockies guidebook is—as stated on the cover—opinionated. If you’ve used it much, you’ve probably come to trust our discernment. This is your assurance that our Canaries trip will fulfill your expectations.

Typically, when you join other hikers on such a venture, you know little about the group leader. Yet that person’s outlook and personality influence every aspect of the trip. Join us in the Canaries, and your group leaders will be the couple who’ve been your virtual hiking companions many times before.

Transport

When flying from North America, the most affordable and convenient mainland- Spain flight destination is Madrid. From there, it’s only a three-hour flight to the north airport on the island of Tenerife. This is in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It’s a ten-minute taxi ride from the airport to San Cristóbal de La Laguna, where we recommend you spend the night. Next morning, you’ll return to the airport and fly to the island of La Gomera, where our group will convene.

On La Gomera, as well as the other two islands on our itinerary, we’ll each drive our own rental cars—in caravan—to/from the trailheads. When planning the trip, we eliminated overly-long drives as best we could. Substantial driving, however, is necessary to stay in optimal locations, hike the most compelling trails, and witness the most impressive scenery. Driving in the Canaries poses no more risk or difficulty than does driving in North America. But it’s essential that you or your partner be confident and capable at the wheel of a manual-shift car, on sinuous mountain roads.

When travelling between the Canary Islands, you have a choice of flying or catching a ferry. We’re urging everyone in our group to fly. While the airline and ferry are comparable in cost, flying is easier and more efficient. If you compare time in the air vs. time on the sea, flying is much quicker. And flying eliminates any concern about sea sickness. Binter Airlines, the local, inter-island carrier, consistently provided us with excellent service.

Independence

Our goal is to muster nine people whose enthusiasm for hiking and whose on-trail compatibility enable them to gel into a cohesive, congenial group. That’s obviously a goal we cannot assure you we’ll achieve, however, which is why this trip allows lots of independence.

For example, we might suggest the group go to a particular restaurant for dinner. You’ll be as welcome to dine elsewhere on your own as you are to join the group that evening. Our previous groups, however, found they looked forward to the lively conversations they had while dining together.

Having your own rental car also grants you a large measure of independence. During our group trip, a car assures you of flexibility that most tours—“Everyone into the van! We’re leaving now!—cannot offer. You can opt for a sightseeing day instead of the hike we’ve planned for the group. Or you might choose to hike an abbreviated, out-and-back version of a loop the rest of the group is undertaking.

La Gomera

You’ll find sublime scenery and superlative hiking on most of the Canary Islands. But La Gomera is the hiker’s island. Relatively small, it’s less populated, less developed, and less touristed than the bigger islands. A high percentage of Gomera visitors are hikers.

Our group will be on La Gomera for eight of our sixteen days together. We’ll base ourselves in Valle Gran Rey. The name refers generally to a spectacular, cliff-bound valley, and specifically to the town at the mouth of the valley. Originally a tiny harbor, the town is now a lively resort. Hotels and restaurants cluster around three, sandy beaches.

Due to its diminutive size and European fame, Gran Rey’s optimal accommodations are booked a year or more in advance. Not to worry. We hold reservations for our group at the premier, seaside hotel. It has a rooftop swimming pool and sundeck, where the 360° view extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the valley’s seaside cliffs. Your spacious room has a kitchenette, and there’s a grocery store a few steps away. But the room rate includes a lavish, buffet breakfast, and you’ll be spoiled for choice by an array of nearby restaurants.

Most mornings, we’ll drive from Gran Rey to trailheads ranging from 15 to 45 minutes inland. The roads are excellent, the driving fun, the en-route scenery absorbing, and the hiking—as we’ve described—is extraordinary. But our ambitious hiking schedule allows a couple days off, so you can savor Gran Rey’s multinational atmosphere, probe its eclectic shops, swim at the beach next to our hotel, or lounge poolside on our rooftop deck.

La Palma

Bigger than La Gomera and more populated, the island of La Palma feels more a part of the present-day world. Yet it’s much less developed, commercial, and touristed than most of the Canary Islands. And La Palma has greater geographic diversity than La Gomera thus offers more varied hiking. Plus it’s easier here to immerse yourself in Canarian culture. So our group will be on La Palma four of our sixteen days together.

We’ll base ourselves in the island’s small, charming, historic capital: Santa Cruz de la Palma. We’ve reserved apartments for our group at a hotel overlooking the port. We’ll be a short walk from the city’s colorful, spirited, pedestrian-only boulevard. Strolling, observing, mingling, and photographing is a joy here, even if you don’t actually “shop.” Choosing from the many enticing restaurants, however, is a challenge.

We consider one of La Palma’s trails to be the most compelling in all the Canaries. It’s a full-day coastal traverse weaving through numerous, sharp-walled canyons that plunge into the North Atlantic. The canyons, with their bizarre, luxuriant vegetation, have a primeval vibe. The proximity of the turbulent sea is exhilarating. And the ancient-but-well-preserved trail follows an implausible, virtuoso route. It all adds up to an incomparable hiking experience.

Another trail we’ll hike on La Palma climbs to, then follows, the rim of Caldera de Taburiente. Once thought to be a volcanic crater, the caldera is actually a massive, curiously arch-shaped mountain. The walls rise 2000 m (6562 ft) above the caldera floor and are 10 km (6.2 mi) apart. If cloud free, the crest of the rim will grant us jaw-dropping views into the caldera, across La Palma’s northwest skirt, and over the North Atlantic.

Tenerife

The archipelago’s largest and most populated island is Tenerife. Much of it is metropolitan. Yet some of it remains so little developed it seems primitive. Sampling the best of these contradictory aspects of Tenerife is essential for travellers who want to grok the Canaries and for hikers intent on sampling the islands’ most intriguing trails. That’s why our group will spend four of our sixteen days on Tenerife.

Our home here will be a sophisticated, boutique apartment-hotel in San Cristóbal de La Laguna. The city, known as “La Laguna,” served as the Canaries’ capital in ancient times. Its historical center is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But this oldworld scene pulses with youthful energy and creativity, because the University of La Laguna enrolls 30,000 students. Thus the city’s pedestrian-only avenues invite you to walk a balance beam between the Canarian past and the islands’ contemporary culture. While observing an eclectic mix of the antique, artistic, and commercial, you’ll feel the electricity and optimism of an imminently influential generation.

We’ll divide our hiking time between Tenerife’s northeast and southwest coasts. Though not far from La Laguna, the island’s northeast tip is a peaky, ravine riddled, blazing green, lost world. We’ll hike trails to unsettled shores where it feels we’re beholding the island’s prehistoric purity. Visiting the southwest coast requires a long drive from La Laguna, but it’s worth it—not to cue-up for the over-hyped trails, but to instead slip away and hike back in time. We’ll follow a nearly forgotten route that daringly traverses a canyon wall and deftly slithers out to a phenomenal, clifftop vantage.


Dates, Costs, Details

Start: Saturday, January 6, 2018

End: Monday, January 22, 2018

Estimated Per-Person Costs (CAD)

airfare$1600 + $330 inter-island
hotels$1185 for 16 nights
meals$200 for 6 restaurant meals
rental car$210 plus $150 gas
(based on 2 people sharing)
scout fee$1800 (8 or 9 hikers)
$2000 (7 hikers)
$2300 (6 hikers)
subtotal$5275 per person
(based on 8 or 9 hikers)
additional- medical/car/trip insurances plus meals & accommodation before & after this trip

Actual Costs

Your airfare will depend on the airline you choose and when you purchase. The accuracy of our estimates for accommodation and rental car will depend on ever-fluctuating exchange rates. Our scout fee will not change.

Payment

You’ll pay for your accommodation through us, but you’ll pay only what we’re charged. All other costs—airfare, rental car, meals, etc.—you’ll pay directly. That’s what makes this trip affordable: There’s no markup on any of your expenses.

Deposit

Tell us you’re interested. We’ll send questions about your hiking experience and fitness level. If you and we agree you can comfortably handle the hiking in the Canary Islands, please send us $1800 per person via e-mail transfer to secure space. This scout fee deposit is due Friday, September 1, 2017. The sooner you commit, the sooner we can establish a full group of eight or nine hikers, giving everyone ample time to confidently reserve flights. Bear in mind, connections from mainland Europe to Tenerife are limited. Yet Tenerife is a popular European getaway destination. So we must all book early to ensure we can meet our scheduling needs. Plus, the sooner we have a committed group, the more seats will be available on inter-island flights, which each of us must reserve on our own.

Because two of our Canaries’ hotels require payment four months in advance, we ask you to send us a $600 hotel-deposit fee by September 1, 2017. That’s in addition to the scout fee. Your hotel deposit covers approximately half the cost of your accommodation. The balance will be due Wednesday, November 1, 2017. We’ll remind you as these due-dates approach.

We’ll keep you posted as hikers commit to joining us. Your deposit is refundable only if your group falls short of six hikers on October 1, 2017. If at that time your group has at least six hikers but fewer than eight, a second, non-refundable deposit is due immediately to cover the increased scout fee: $500 per person for a group of six, $200 per person for a group seven.

International Flights

You are responsible for booking and paying for your international flights. You’ll find that fares from western Canada or the USA to the Canary Islands are reasonable. Departing Calgary (YYC), connecting in London (LHR) and Barcelona (BCN), the flight time to Tenerife (TFN) is 19.5 hours, and the cost is CAD $1550. Via Amsterdam (AMS) and Madrid (MAD), the flight time from Calgary (YYC) is 18.25 hours, and the cost is CAD $1715. From Las Vegas (LAS), the flight time is 16.5 hours, and the cost is USD $1200.

Inter-Island Flights

You are responsible for booking and paying for your three, inter-island flights. As soon as we have a committed group of at least six hikers, we’ll send you details about Binter (www.bintercanarias.com/eng), the local airline.

We recommend you allow a full day to rest after arriving on Tenerife (TFN) and before flying to La Gomera (GMZ), where our group will convene. From Tenerife’s north airport, near the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, it’s a ten-minute taxi ride to San Cristóbal de La Laguna, where we recommend you stop over.

Flight time from Tenerife (TFN) to La Gomera (GMZ) is 30 minutes. The cost is CAD $108 per person. You’ll need to arrive on Gomera no later than 10 a.m., January 6, 2018. The airport is on the south side of the island, near Playa de Santiago. You’ll rent a car at the airport, then drive about one hour to Valle Gran Rey, on the west side of the island, where we’ll greet you at our hotel.

Your other option for inter-island travel is Fred Olsen Ferries (www.fredolsen.es/en), which has a good reputation. But travel time is longer on the water than in the air, and the logistics (port locations, rentalcar pick-up / drop-off, etc.) aren’t as convenient as when you fly. Each of our numerous flying/driving transitions last winter in the Canaries were seamless. Based on our experience, we recommend you fly.

Rental Car

If you’re comfortable and confident driving throughout North America, you should have no trouble on the Canary Islands. It’s essential, however, that you or your partner be confident and capable behind the wheel of a manual-shift car.

Last winter, we rented from CICAR (Canary Islands Car, www. cicar.com) on all five islands we visited. Their agents were always friendly, helpful and efficient. And CICAR’s rates are all-inclusive. Their rentals include full insurance (comprehensive, vehicle theft, third-party liability, USD $4 million total coverage) with zero deductible, unlimited mileage, and all taxes. They don’t charge you for having a second driver on the contract. And they don’t penalize you for changing your reservation.

Renting a three-door Ford Fiesta or Opel Corsa from CICAR cost us CAD $21 a day on La Gomera, and CAD $36 a day on La Palma and Tenerife. The approximate total cost of renting a car for 15 days while you’re with our group will be CAD $420, or $210 per person if you share.

Other rental-car companies serve the Canary Islands, but we have no personal experience with them, thus cannot recommend them. Plus, CICAR gave us no reason to consider switching. Our impression is that the other companies are smaller, less pervasive, and offer less generous and transparent contracts.

Accommodation

We’ve reserved accommodation for nine people, for 16 nights, for the above dates. Prices for a double room or apartment range from CAD $90 to CAD $210 per night, so the average per-night cost is CAD $150. This includes buffet breakfasts on 12 mornings. We’ll have apartments with kitchens or kitchenettes for all 16 nights. Having your own kitchen allows you to take a break from restaurants, save a little money, and prepare your own meal comprising more vegetables than restaurants typically serve. The accommodation cost (per couple, for 16 nights) will total about CAD $2370.

Among northern Europeans, the Canaries are such a popular winter destination that all the islands’ best accommodation is booked far in advance. We began seeking reservations last winter, in person, while we were still in the Canaries, which enabled us to secure excellent accommodations for our group. But this intense competition for lodging allows hoteliers to demand non-refundable deposits. So we must pay two of our hotel bills four months prior to our group’s arrival in the Canaries. That’s why half the cost of your accommodation is due September 1, 2017, and the balance is due November 1, 2017.

Meals

The actual costs will depend on current restaurant prices, as well as on what and how much you order. Because we’re staying in apartments, we’ll arrange time for everyone to shop at nearby stores for lunch and dinner groceries.

Breakfasts: Our hotels will provide us with buffet breakfasts on twelve mornings. The other four mornings, we’ll prepare breakfast for ourselves in our apartment kitchens.

Lunches: Most days we’ll prepare our own lunches from ingredients we buy at nearby stores. On a couple of our rest days, you might want to go out for lunch. For example, we know a cafe in Santa Cruz de la Palma that serves a generous, delicious lunch—mixed-green salad, grilled filet of fresh fish, and papas arrugadas (roasted potatoes)—only CAD $13.

Dinners: Our estimated total cost includes six restaurant dinners. The per-meal cost will average CAD $25 per person, plus drinks and the standard 5% tip. A couple restaurant meals might cost CAD $35. You’ll always have the option of cooking dinner in your apartment kitchen, so we’ve not added this “same-as-back-home” cost to our trip-expense estimate.

Insurance

We require you to buy emergency hospital and medical insurance to cover you while you’re in the Canary Islands. Should an insurance company ask if you’ll be climbing or mountaineering while you’re there, you can honestly say “no.”

We also recommend you buy trip-interruption/cancellation insurance. For a small fee, it covers an emergency return to your home country. Your need to return could be due to a foreign affairs office traveler-safety advisory, for example. Or it could be due to a family emergency—if you are the primary caregiver. A reliable travel insurance company is Allianz Global Assistance (800-461-1079 / www.allianz-assistance.ca/en). Ask them for details.

Bear in mind, if fewer than six people commit to our group trip, we’ll have to cancel it. No insurance policy covers that. So if you purchase your airfare before we confirm your group has at least six hikers, you must be confident you’d want to continue with your own vacation in the Canaries for the same dates. We cannot refund your airfare.


Itinerary

Our 2018 Canary Islands hiking-focused vacation begins on Saturday, January 6, and concludes on Monday, January 22. During those sixteen days we’ll visit three islands:

  • 8 days on La Gomera— hiking 5 full days, 3 half days
  • 4 days on La Palma— hiking 1 full day, 1 half day
  • 4 days on Tenerife—hiking 3 days

It’s possible we’ll need to change our plans in response to rain or strong wind—perhaps hiking where the weather is more favorable, elsewhere on the island—but here’s our intended day-by-day itinerary:

Day one Depart Tenerife North airport at 9:30 am. Arrive at La Gomera airport at 10 am. Pick up our rental cars. Drive one hour to Valle Gran Rey. Meet Kathy and Craig at our hotel. Group gets acquainted over lunch at a nearby, fresh-fish restaurant. Depart for afternoon hike. From a trailhead high above Valle Gran Rey, descend an ancient, airy, switchbacking trail into a neighboring valley. Views of the North Atlantic and the Tegeleche Mountains will be constant. Rest beneath palm trees, then begin ascending. Loop back on another ancient, scenic trail. Hiking time: 3.5 hours. Distance: 6.5 km (4 mi). Elevation gain: 850 m (2788 ft). For dinner, we recommend the superb, Malaysian restaurant just around the corner from our hotel.

Day two Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Go grocery shopping down the street. Drive five minutes up-valley. Hike a trail ascending a steep canyon wall to surmount the ridgecrest towering directly above Valle Gran Rey. Admire vast ocean and valley views before descending. Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours. Distance: 10.5 km (6.5 mi). Elevation gain: 770 m (2526 ft). Prepare dinner in your apartment, or eat at one of several nearby restaurants. Maybe… Stroll on the beach next to the hotel.

Day three Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Drive 45 minutes to a picturesque hamlet cascading down a terraced hillside. Hike a dazzling loop over a ridge and through two, deeply-incised canyons. The trail spectacularly traverses the canyon walls. Hiking time: 6 to 8 hours. Distance: 9 km (5.5 mi). Elevation gain: 540 m (1772 ft). Prepare dinner in your apartment, or eat at one of several nearby restaurants. Maybe… Listen to musicians at waterfront cafes.

Day four Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Indulge in a day of relaxation. Maybe… Enjoy our hotel’s rooftop swimming pool, or go swimming at one of Valle Gran Rey’s three beaches. Prepare lunch in your apartment, or eat at one of several nearby restaurants. For dinner, we recommend the excellent, East Indian restaurant just around the corner.

Day five Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Depart early. Drive one hour to a trailhead. Begin a fascinating descent on an historic route into a dramatic canyon. Proceed downcanyon to an isolated, seaside resort. Stop for ice-cream. Loop back, first ascending a panoramic ridgecrest, then following a “balcony” canyon-wall trail that defies belief. En route, pass isolated stands of palm trees and the stone walls of a long-gone shepherds’ village. Hiking time: 7.5 to 8.5 hours. Distance 24 km (15 mi). Elevation loss/gain 660 m (2165 ft) / 960 m (3150 ft). Prepare dinner in your apartment, or eat at one of several nearby restaurants. Maybe… Sit on the beach next to the hotel and let the sound of the surf lull you into meditation.

Day six Buffet breakfast at our hotel. You’re now familiar with Valle Gran Rey and La Gomera, so you’ll appreciate a day to follow your bliss. You might want to go sightseeing, or do a short hike on your own. You can also simply relax as you please. The day is yours. Over breakfast, Kathy and Craig can suggest options and help you plan.

Day seven Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Drive up-canyon about ten minutes from our hotel. Begin a “cliff-hanger” loop hike on a trail that, most of the way, clings to the soaring valley walls. Midway, we’ll reach a hamlet where we can rest at a cafe and order refreshments and snacks. Hiking time: 3.5 to 4 hours. Distance: 9.5 km (5.9 mi). Elevation gain: 710 m (2330 ft). Prepare dinner in your apartment, or join us at a nearby restaurant specializing in fresh seafood. Maybe… Laze on our hotels’ rooftop terrace, appreciate how dark the North Atlantic night sky is, and marvel at the brilliance of the stars.

Day eight Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Drive 45 minutes to the north side of the island. Arrange a vehicle shuttle. Begin switchbacking steeply up a canyon wall. Attain a ridgecrest vantage. Drop into a lonely gorge, then rise to a cliff-edge restaurant where a glass-bottomed viewing platform dares you to walk into “space.” An implausible but comfortably safe trail drops off the cliff to La Gomera’s loveliest village. Hiking time: 4.5 to 5 hours. Distance 9 km (5.5 mi). Elevation gain: 600 m (1970 ft). Elevation loss: 500 m (1640 ft). Reservations ensure our group can dine at a nearby restaurant whose quirkiness becomes lovable when you taste what comes out of their tiny kitchen.

Day nine Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Depart early for a morning hike. From high above Valle Gran Rey, follow a trail into the impressive Tegeleche Mountains. Hiking time: 3 to 3.5 hours. Distance: 7 km (4.5 mi). Elevation gain: 500 m (1640 ft). Return to our hotel to finish packing and eat lunch in town or at the hotel restaurant. Leave Valle Gran Rey by 3 pm. Arrive at the airport by 4:15 pm. Our flight departs La Gomera at 5:50 pm. After changing flights on Tenerife, arrive on La Palma at 7:30 pm. Taxi from the airport to our apartment-hotel perched above the port of Santa Cruz de la Palma. Walk into the historic city center for dinner.

Day ten Buffet breakfast at our hotel. Depart on foot with our daypacks. Walk to the port and pick up our rental cars. Drive 45 minutes up the forested slopes of Caldera de Taburiente. Hike to the 2250-m (7380-ft) summit of Pico de la Nieve on the caldera rim for views into the great abyss. Hiking time: 2.5 to 3 hours. Distance: 6 km (3.7 mi). Elevation gain: 250 m (820 ft). If minimal cloud cover allows visibility, resume driving the caldera-rim highway. Overlook La Palma’s north skirt. Continue to the supreme, caldera viewpoint: Roque de los Muchachos. Drive back to Santa Cruz de la Palma. Stop for grocery shopping. Return to our hotel. Prepare dinner in your apartment or, if you prefer, walk to one of the many restaurants in the historic city center.

Day eleven Rise early. Prepare breakfast in your apartment, or enjoy the hotel buffet. Drive to the island’s far side. Arrange a vehicle shuttle allowing our group to complete a long, one-way hike. The ancient trail traverses a ravine-incised coastline as scenic as any on our planet. We’ll pass through a couple villages, but mostly we’ll be plunging into verdant canyons and climbing over magnificent headlands. Hiking time: 9 hours. Distance 21 km (13 mi). Elevation gain: 1210 m (4167 ft). Elevation loss: 1210 m (3970 ft). If necessary, we can eliminate the final 420-m (1380-ft) ascent. But we’re hoping the group can push through, and experience all of this intriguing trail. We’ll celebrate our accomplishment at an excellent, atmospheric restaurant not far from where we complete the hike. Drive back to our hotel in Santa Cruz de la Palma.

Day twelve Indulge in a full day of well-deserved relaxation. Maybe… Sleep late. Walk into the historic city center, stop at a bakery, then stroll the colorful, spirited, pedestrian-only boulevard. Prepare lunch in your apartment, or eat at one of several outdoor cafes. If you’re keen to explore beyond the city, you can drive to a blacksand beach, or the La Fajana natural pools. For dinner, we recommend the group join us at a splendid cellar-restaurant in an artfully renovated, traditional home.

Day thirteen Drive to the airport. Return our rental cars. Fly to Tenerife at 10:30 am. Arrive on Tenerife at 11 am. Pick up our rental cars. Drive to our apartmenthotel in nearby San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Go grocery shopping and prepare lunch and/ or dinner in your apartment, or eat at one of several nearby restaurants. Enjoy walking La Laguna’s historical center—a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the nucleus of social life for the University of La Laguna’s 30,000 students.

Day fourteen Prepare breakfast in our apartments. Drive into the densely vegetated, rough-hewn Anaga Mountains, on the northeast tip of Tenerife. Begin hiking in a remote village. Cross a forested pass, drop to the sea, then follow an undulating trail along a gorgeous, unsettled coastline. Loop back by ascending a ridgecrest that affords expansive views of the peninsula. Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours. Distance 17 km (10.5 mi). Elevation gain: 930 m (3050 ft). Return to our hotel. Prepare dinner in your apartment or, if you prefer, walk to one of the many restaurants in the historic city center.

Day fifteen Prepare breakfast in our apartments. Again drive into the Anaga Mountains. From yet another remote-village trailhead, hike an easy trail that winds down to the sea, then follows a different but equally exciting stretch of unsettled coast. The entire distance is so engaging that we’ll make this a round trip, so we can see it all twice. Hiking time: 4.5 hours. Distance 13 km (8 mi). Elevation gain & loss: 460-m (1510- ft). Return to hotel. Prepare dinner in your apartment or, if you prefer, walk to one of the many restaurants in the historic city center.

Day sixteen Prepare breakfast in our apartments. Drive through the centre of the island (about two hours), over the shoulder of the 3,718-m (12,198-ft) volcano that dominates the Canary Islands: Pico del Teide. From a trailhead above Tenerife’s southwest coast, we’ll hike an obscure trail that intrepidly but safely contours a canyon wall and shrewdly wriggles out to an awesome aerial vantage of the shoreline far below and across the North Atlantic to La Gomera and beyond. Hiking time: 4 hours. Distance 9 km (5.5 mi). Elevation gain: 250 m (820 ft). We’ll drive the direct route back to our hotel. For dinner, we recommend the group join us at our favorite La Laguna restaurant.

Day seventeen After preparing breakfast in our apartments, our group gathers in our hotel lobby to say “goodbye” and wish each other a safe journey home. Everyone flies from Tenerife to mainland Spain.

Contact Keen to join us? Have questions? Send us a note: nomads@hikingcamping.com