Sitting somewhere on the coast, sipping on a cocktail, and feeling the sun on your face? This can be perfect! But to be honest, we think it would be a shame to just keep doing this. Why? Because Tenerife has an amazing landscape of steep mountains, deep ravines, wild rock formations, and beautiful flora. And proof of this lies in the beautiful Valley of Masca.
How to Get to Masca?
Getting to Masca – whether you enter the valley from the north or south – is incredible. The road trip is an adventure in itself and can take hours: only because of the many, many stops you are likely to make to take photos. If you’re coming from Santiago del Teide, you’re likely going to be stopping now and then to let cars from the opposite direction pass. The road is quite narrow so we recommend an experienced driver to do the magic here.
If you have the opportunity to reach Masca Valley quite early in the morning – do it. Otherwise, you will find yourself in tribes of tourists, arriving from all parts of the island in their big tour buses. Not to mention it’s going to be impossible to find a parking spot. There is little room to park along the winding road and to enable more people to stop during the day, you are only allowed to park here for 2 hours on certain days and times. So if you can, leave your car either in Santiago del Teide or Buenavista del Norte, and take the public bus to Masca.
The Lost Village
Masca is a small mountain village, situated at an altitude of 650 m in the Macizo de Teno mountain range that stretches all along the coast to the most north-western point of Tenerife.
Originally it was a Guanche settlement before the Spanish conquest in 1496. Nowadays, only about 100 people live in the area – apart from the daily crowds of tourists, of course.
Until the eighties, Masca was only accessible by foot, horse, or donkey. That is why it is sometimes called the “lost village” of Tenerife. The village is divided into several small parts, and where it was possible, people created terraced fields to grow citrus fruits, prickly pears, the opuntia cactus, and many other delicious things.
The nature around Masca is breathtaking. If you let your gaze circle through the cacti, palm trees, and rocks, you can see the ocean on the horizon.
Not up for a Hike? Nevermind!
Not feeling like hiking or you haven’t been able to obtain a permit? Nevermind! Just seeing this beautiful village is enough for an amazing experience! But if you want to take it to the next level, we recommend sitting down at one of the restaurants with a terrace overlooking the valley, and trying one of the local specialities such as the opuntia lemonade, grilled goat cheese, or chickpea stew. You won’t regret it, we promise!
Now off to the Canyon…
To ensure the protection of nature and the safety of visitors, access to the Masca Ravine is restricted. So before you visit, make sure to either book with a tour operator or obtain permission to enter on your own. Either way, you are going to need good hiking boots (otherwise you won’t be allowed to enter the ravine), enough water for a multiple-hour hike, and appropriate clothes.
We also recommend taking some snacks & sunscreen as it can get very hot and exhausting. And in case you want to swim in the ocean, consider taking a swimsuit with you (but remember, the official insurance doesn’t cover you outside the ravine).
Upon arrival, you need to check in at the info center where you’ll be instructed on safety in the ravine, and you will get a helmet that you need to wear throughout the whole hike. And then you’re finally good to go!
The trail has nearly 5 kilometers one way, which means you’ll hike 10 in total, as the boats that used to take the tourists to Los Gigantes don’t operate. Depending on your physical condition, this can take between 5-8 hours; the officials state 7 hours as a standard.
That is caused by the fact that you have to conquer over 1000 m of altitude in one way, so over 2000 m in total. The descent can be a little adventurous, but the real deal is the ascent here as it’s steep. That’s why it’s recommended that you make sure to be in good physical condition. And seeing some people absolutely exhausted while climbing back up, it’s easy to see why.
Still want to do it? Good! Because it really is worth the trouble! The canyon of Masca must be one of the most beautiful on the whole island. The views are breathtaking, the rocks above your head are huge and the whole place just makes you feel tiny compared to the power of Mother Nature.