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SPAIN & PORTUGAL LA GOMERA DESTINATIONS


T


here are certain parts of the world that words and photos


can’t quite do justice. The tiny, volcanic and barely known Canary island of La Gomera is one of those places, with scenes so dramatic they make Jurassic Park look dull. In the north, fluorescent green slopes plunge into winding valleys, dotted with villages, vineyards and farmhouses. In the south, red, desert-like rocks tower over giant cacti and black-sand beaches, so that it looks like some strange amalgamation of the arid American wild west and the lush Austrian Tyrol. It’s about as


far from the brash streets and bright lights of south Tenerife as you can possibly imagine, despite the fact it’s only a 50-minute ferry ride away (Fred Olsen operates six ferry crossings a day, connecting visitors to Tenerife South airport from €34 for adults each way). There are no high-rise hotels and tourists are few and far between. Visitors who do make it,


tend to come on day trips from Tenerife. The tourist board recorded 740,000 visitors in 2016 – up from 500,000 in 2014 – and only about half stayed overnight, but they’re missing a trick. Pleasant year-round


temperatures – lows of 18C in winter and highs of 24C in


The volcanic island is a place that words can’t do justice, with scenes so dramatic they make Jurassic Park look dull


summer – make it a haven for winter-sun breaks, while 375 miles of footpaths, fervently guarded traditions and one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Europe make the island a magnet for hikers, culture seekers and nature lovers alike.


w SAN SEBASTIAN Our trip began in the island’s capital, San Sebastian, the docking point for ferries from Tenerife and a haven for history fans thanks to a cluster of monuments, including the 15th- century Torre del Conde tower, which was built by the Spanish to defend against indigenous attacks and is the Canaries’ only fortification. The town’s real draw, though,


is the fact it was the last place Columbus came before his grand voyage to the Americas in 1492 – he’s even said to have recruited sailors from the island, collecting water that was then used to consecrate natives – and visitors can see the house in


11 January 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 91


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