The village of ‘Masca’ in Tenerife

Masca village, which is home to less than a hundred residents (and is often acclaimed as Tenerife’s answer to ‘The lost World’) lies at an altitude of 650 m, in the north-western part of Tenerife, at the foot of the Macizo de Teno Mountains. The setting of the village, between the Masca and the Madre Del Agua Gorges, is simply magical, and its houses, which are precariously perched on the narrow ridges of dramatic rock formations, produces an unbelievable landscape which is nothing-less than breathtaking.

For centuries a small community farmed the precipitous terraces where two gorges meet, and until recently Masca was virtually unknown. In fact it was only when the road connecting Santiago del Teide to Buenavista was finally constructed in the 1970’s that the rest of the world was formally introduced to this amazing village. Today, Masca is unequivocally one of the most picturesque parts of the island, and once one has experienced all of its natural beauty it is easy to see why it is second-only to the Teide National Park, as the most-popular tourist destination on the whole of the island.

However, reaching this truly amazing village is an entirely different matter, as one must be prepared to traverse various winding roads (many of them interspersed with a fusion of hairpin bends) before dropping-down into deep ravines, and negotiating a number of broken -and somewhat slippery footpaths along the way. In the upper side of the settlement known as Masca Lomo, a quaint little museum, which is housed in a typical Mascan-styled cottage, is part-and-parcel of Masca’s booming tourist economy. Virtually everyone in the village is making their living in some way or another -primarily by selling straw hats to protect the multitudes of hikers from the suns’ blazing rays, or by flogging hand crafted jewellery to the hoards of visitors who flock to the village year-in and year-out.

Also, several of the village houses have been converted into cafe-bars-cum-restaurants -the terrace of the El Guanche Restaurant doubling as a viewpoint, offering one of the most spectacular and panoramic views on the island. Contrary to popular belief, the village was not a hideout for pirates (as many would like to believe) but it was actually the last refuge of Tenerife’s original inhabitants, the Guanches, who held out for as long as they could in the caves of its deep barranco (ravine) with its steep surrounding cliff walls, until the inevitable conquest of the Spanish Conquistadores back in 1496.

The walk from Masca to the coast is quite an arduous trek, and it takes approximately 3 hours to cover the six kilometres (4 miles) from top to bottom. As soon as one has finally reached the coastline there are boats departing every hour for the nearby coastal resort of Los Gigantes, although certain people (namely those who are extremely fit) have been known to walk all the way back up to the village of Masca! According to last reports the only accommodation available in Masca is self catering, which is not in abundance, I believe, but relatively inexpensive -and therefore ideal for your average back-packer-cum-hiker.