Tenerife’s most popular walk, the Barranco Del Infierno, hung up its hiking boots and closed its gates to the public 18 months ago, thus depriving the south of its most impressive walk and Tenerife of a splendid barranco (ravine). Luckily, in my opinion it wasn’t the best barranco on the island – that title belongs to Masca.
This month we stop mourning the manicured splendour of Adeje and head instead to the Jurassic jewel of Masca.
Why this way?
There’s a reason why Masca is the second most visited place on Tenerife and it’s the same reason that Teide National Park is first on that list ““ it’s quite simply breathtaking.
Few places on the planet can boast such a dramatic setting as Masca, nestling in its fertile blanket at the confluence of two gorges beneath the colossal peaks of the Teno Mountain Range.
Thanks to the daily influx of visitors, a hamlet that would otherwise have slipped under the cloak of invisibility as easier ways to make a living attracted its ageing population away from the back breaking terraces and into the tourist resorts, now offers an authentic taste of rural Tenerife. In the restaurants you can enjoy such home made delights as cactus ice cream, cactus lemonade, smoked goat’s cheeses and mojos made from every fruit growing in the village.
If you really want to have your cake and eat it, visit early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on Fridays and Sundays to avoid the majority of the tour groups and experience the solitude and tranquillity of Tenerife’s Shangri-La.
Hike this way
From a signpost in the lower village, a path descends the side of the ravine, plunging you ever deeper into the bowels of the earth and giving your thighs a sneak preview of the trials to come, until you reach the narrow path that twists and turns its way towards the sea.
Scrambling over rockfalls, constantly scanning the near horizon for white markers on rocks and small piles of stones to keep you on the right track, the terrain morphs from arid to lush as you traverse a ravine floor untouched by sunlight. Skirting crystal creeks that gently cascade over elephant grey rocks into emerald basins and trekking, Hobbit-like, along the foot of Tolkien-esque cliffs, the barranco walls grow ever taller and close in overhead as you travel deeper and deeper into this endless lost world.
Eventually, the sound of waves crashing on the rocky shore reaches your ears and after the best part of three hours you emerge, footsore and thigh weary, beneath the tamarisk trees onto Masca beach to revel in the sunlight and dip your relieved toes into the surf. For most people, this is the end of the trek as they board the little boat that takes them to Los Gigantes and a Dorada reward.
For car drivers and masochists, the trail back up Masca Barranco is not only as arduous the other way, it’s also unrelentingly uphill.
Stroll this way
Thousands of visitors descend on Masca village every day of the week and very few of them take on the Indiana Jones mantle of the barranco walk. Instead, paths wind their way through the hamlet, alongside terraces filled with fruit trees and giant agave plants to the charismatic little museum of El Lomo de Masca where you can get a glimpse of the harsh reality of farming life in this paradise before the construction of the road from Santiago del Teide to Buenavista in the 1970s which brought the outside world and tourism.
A sloping stroll to the very end of the path at the bottom of the village takes you to a circular cul-de-sac where you can sit and look back over the palm groves of the village above which the daunting bulk of Roque Tarucho looms. Guanche legend held that the rock had to be bound with a reed rope each year to prevent it from falling on the village. It’s a tradition that remains in place today and it seems to have worked…so far.
Peaks: For me, there is nowhere else on Tenerife to match the Jurassic drama of Masca Barranco. It really feels as if you’re the first person to discover this incredible landscape, tucked so deeply away from the view of all those day trippers.
Troughs: The down side for me is that unless you go with a tour group or have two cars, one parked at Los Gigantes, you have to face the return trek and your thighs will be bitching at you for days afterwards.
My view: 4 Stars ““ A truly unique location which tests the nerves and soothes the senses in equal measure.