Masca – one lovely little special place

My last morning in Costa Adeje was set to goodbyes and packing. Weird enough, the same stuff that came in my backpack, didn’t fit in it anymore. Why? Total mystery.

Later that day, the wind from Africa, La Calima, started to blow and spread sand from the Sahara desert through the Canary Islands, very much lowering the visibility. Charles, the Frenchman, decided to join me to Masca, but first he wanted to see Los Gigantes. I decided to take that route as well.

Good day gone wrong

The bus to Los Gigantes was late because of some holidays we didn’t know about and the frenzy in the traffic so I missed my connection to Santiago del Teide, and then the bus at 13:00 to Masca. The day was getting from good to bad to worse.

Buses that were supposed to come didn’t, some were running on different routes or not at all, Google maps was showing me one schedule, the timetable we got from a bus driver was saying something else, and the timetables in the bus stations didn’t fit any version. Everything was a mess.

We ended up walking around like idiots chasing buses in the sun for a few hours and on top of that, Charles couldn’t have found a better time to teach me his life lessons. He kept on talking and talking.

It was that kind of day. I was tired. Tired of Charles, tired of tourists, of buses and timetables, of the wind and the sand and the sun. I only wanted to get home. Wherever that was.

On the way to Masca

Santiago del Teide

Later on, Charles decided to go back due to the mess with the buses and I finally made it to the little town of Santiago del Teide, which surprised me in a very good way. It was love at first sight. The air was cooler and the town had a vibe that made me feel a lot better, washing away all the nonsense from earlier that day.

Situated at around 1000 m above the ocean, in the wonderful Santiago Valley and surrounded by canyon-like peaks to the west and pine forests to the north, the tranquil little town of Santiago del Teide is the gateway to the village of Masca. There are no fancy places and not too many tourists, only a chill and cozy atmosphere and the low white buildings on the main street. I felt right at home there.

Santiago del Teide - the gateway to Masca

The road to Masca

The bus ride from Santiago to Masca was one hell of a ride. Imagine a road as wide as one lane and a half, hairpin turns, tour buses, rental cars with fearful tourists behind the driving wheel and the local bus drivers which took their buses for fighter jets. And then add more hairpin turns. It was dangerously amazing.

Gazing out the window to the sights of the village below and the Masca valley with its canyons and ridges was breathtaking. Not to mention that I caught all of that in the warm light of the sunset. I couldn’t have wanted more from life.

It was the perfect ending of a bad day. To which I added a beer from the village bar aka minimarket aka place where you get all the basic stuff.

The road to Masca

Wandering around and above Masca

The next day I didn’t have much for breakfast because of that only beer I had bought in the evening before. So I had to be back from my wanderings by 6 pm, when everything in Masca would close. Nothing moves around after that hour.

And speaking about wandering, that’s what I did. I avoided the famous Barranco de Masca and walked up the road to a point where I could start hiking the Guergues ridge, the first one south of the village.

The trail was an unmarked one and at some point it became nonexistent, because locals don’t use it anymore and tourists don’t seem to venture around those places. Besides one. Me. I strayed from any visible path and sometimes even crawled trying to find my way – any way – through the bushes, cactuses and rocks. Why? Just to see what’s on the other side.

making my way through rocks and cactuses

And did I? Hell yeah. I saw Los Gigantes. From above, because I was on top of them, wandering around like an idiot. But a very happy one. I saw Playa Seco down below and the unused water tunnels that fill those mountains. I couldn’t comprehend how many secrets those Teno mountains can hold and how many weeks, not days, I would need to explore them.

above Playa Seco

trail above Masca

above Masca

On my way back I had to hurry to try my Spanish again at the local bar. Got back right on time and even realized that my Spanish had improved – with the prior help of Google Translate – and managed to get some eggs, cheese, bread and water. You know, the basic stuff. I had forgotten about beer though, but it was too late when I realized that.

My other day in Masca was lazy after walking around 30 kilometers the day before. I went back to Santiago because it was too good not to explore some more of it, tried the Canarian soup for lunch – which felt like it had every ingredient from every soup possible – and while on my way back, I decided to go for a run on Barranco de Masca, catch the sunset on the famous Playa de Masca, and then run back up again before darkness fell over the village.

That I did. Forty minutes down, one hour up and some impressed tourists – everybody will tell you that the trail is long, hard and dangerous, but if you’re a seasoned hiker it’s nothing near that. And then there’s that wonderful beach. Awesome place. The trail in itself was nothing impressive. I’ll go even further and say that it’s overrated. No wonder, since it’s the second most visited place on Tenerife after the Teide National Park.

But the village of Masca, with its clusters of stone, white buildings hidden away behind rich vegetation, it’s superb. Especially after six pm, when there are no more tourists left around. It’s the perfect place for at least a few days of quieting down the rush of the other resorts swarming with tourists.

Surrounded by tall, prominent mountain ridges from three sides and a ravine that couldn’t have ended better than with a lovely beach on the Atlantic Ocean, Masca is one very pretty and special place on the island of Tenerife. One I might go back to one day. For more than the three nights I had last December.

In the village of Masca

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