A landscape shaped by erosion over millions of years

Valle gran rey
The aspect of "orange juice machine" that La Gomera currently presents is the result of its long geological history. It starts with the formation of a large shield volcano, which explains the almost circular shape of La Gomera. Throughout its geological history, the island has had eruptive periods of growth and construction of volcanic buildings, followed by its dismantling by means of erosion. The last great constructive stage piled a large mass of basalt materials in the central area of the island and in its northern summits. Since, at least, the last three million years, La Gomera has not experienced any type of volcanic eruption.

Its landscapes are dominated by erosion, with deep ravines as its greatest exponent, which are radially arranged from the summits, in the centre of the island, towards the sea. In the north of La Gomera the watersheds are steep, but in the south the ravines are separated by relatively flat areas or in the form of gentle slopes, known as lomadas (small hills). In both cases the ravines are profound and frequently, between the channels and the peaks, there are huge gradients and rocky walls.

Garajonay, a forest in the central plateau of the island

Masa forestal
La Gomera has a wide space with gentle gradients in the central area, forming a large plateau. It is the kingdom of the fog, which compensates the lack of summer rains and maintains, in all its splendour, the best-preserved laurel of the Canary Islands. The windward areas are the most affected by the mists and where the mountain reaches its maximum development. In the leeward slopes, the fact of being less exposed to the trade winds and having suffered more intensive uses creates an area with less arboreal wealth and with a greater abundance of thickets of replacement.

As peculiarity of Garajonay, with respect to the rest of the landscapes of La Gomera, it is the vegetation, in its multiple manifestations, the one that defines the landscape, above the orographic or geological features.

The mountain, in spite of resembling a green homogeneous cloak when seen from above, is very diverse in its composition and development, according to the multiple variations of microclimates and soils that the park offers.

 The interior of the forest

El interior del bosque
The tree canopy favours the presence of mosses, ferns and some climbing plants undemanding of light. In a large part of the park, you can have the feeling of being inside a tropical rainforest. It doesn't cease to be an indication of the great singularity of this mountain, a relic of the Tertiary Era, when these forests dominated the continents that had a more stable and humid environment than it is now.

From the interior of the forest, the intensity and complexity of its ecological processes can be felt: a dark soil, rich in humus, on which has been deposited a thick layer of leaf litter; various strategies of spread or survival of the tree species; upholstered trunks and branches of mosses and lichens; fallen trees and debris of dead wood, etc. Everything shows us an old mountain, in which the human intervention has been very little for several decades. We can also perceive this naturalness from the viewpoints: it is the nature that dominates the landscape.

 A jungle bathed in fog

Una selva bañada por la niebla
When we walk inside the park, the sense of a "ghostly" environment is accentuated by the fog that covers Garajonay. The dense haze is a characteristic feature of this forest and is a product of the cloud condensation of the trade winds coming from the northeast when colliding with the summits of the island. The presence of this frequent fog in the forest the reason for its existence. It is very striking the spectacle offered by this layer of clouds from some viewpoints, when it descends from the summits resembling large waterfalls.

 Spring in Garajonay

La primavera en Garajonay
While green is the dominant colour in the park, the emergence of new colours announces the unmistakable arrival of spring. Between the months of March and June occurs the flowering of many of the plants of the National Park. Wonderful places to enjoy this explosion of colour are the surroundings of La Laguna Grande, where, between April and early May, the patacuervo (Geranium reuteri) colours the undergrowth with a purple dye. The same happens in the edges of tracks, with the yellow blooms of morgallones (Ranunculus cortusifolius), or white and even lilac (all of it in the same plant!) of the endemic Arcila (Pericallis steetzii). Also, with the sprouts in the trees between the months of May and July, the vault of the trees are tinged with pale green and cheerful tones that contrast with the dark green of the rest of the year.

Los Roques

Los Roques
You can't talk about the landscapes of Garajonay without making a special mention to Los Roques, the most relevant geological elements of La Gomera. Imposing rocky masses that welcome to the park through the road GM2, stand out in one of its southern limits at the headwaters of the ravines of La Laja and Benchijigua. This monumental complex is composed of the Roques de Carmona, Zarcita, Ojila and the impressive Roque de Agando. They are visible as a result of the action of erosion, which has dismantled the materials surrounding various volcanic vents (tubes of lava emission). This magma, which does not reach to be poured into the surface and is accumulated in the eruptive mouth due to its high viscosity - being of trachyte and phonolytic nature (harder) -, ends up being exposed in the form of huge rocky promontories, where erosion is much slower. Their peculiar and more acid substrate allows them to be, not only authentic colossi of geological interest and landscape, but also important due to the rare floral species they accommodate, like the madroño canario (Arbutus canariensis), the pino canario (Pinus canariensis), the cedro (Juniperus cedrus) or the jara blanca (Cistus chinamadensis), among others.