Rushing. Trickling. Gurgling. Flowing. Bubbling. The sounds of water. Live-giving water. A rare sight on the southern side of Tenerife, where cactus barely are able to scratch a living out of the dusty volcanic soil. We never expected to encounter a flowing stream, but deep in the barrancos (canyons) of Tenerife, it seems anything is possible.
This would be our third visit to Tenerife, and we were determined to not repeat any of our previous hikes, since there were so many trails still waiting to be explored. The Barranco de Masca was one of those, suprising that we hadn't done it considering it was probably the most popular hike in the book. Of course, its popularity could be due to the fact that after the descent down to the ocean, it is possible to save the pain of hiking back up by taking a tourist boat ride along the cliffs of Los Gigantes! Plenty of tourists seemed to be taking this option, carrying only some water and a camera into the depths of the canyon, while I was loaded down with lots of food to help us hike back out again.
The tiny town of Masca sits deep in a valley of the Teno mountains, in the northwest corner of Tenerife. Narrow roads cling to the hillsides, and even getting to the start of the trail is an adventure. The hiking trail sinks quickly into a deep canyon and follows every twist and turn of the hills; dropping over boulders, around cliffs, over the stream, and through tunnels of reeds.
And the flowing water followed us all the way to the sea. We hadn't expected to find water, but it provided the means to give life to the canyon, filling it full of flowers, palms, cactus, and grasses. The trickling liquid was music to our ears, and we realized that Masca gorge is popular for more than just an easy ride out at the bottom. It is truly beautiful.
One last twist and the crashing waves were in front of us, the sound booming up the canyon long before we could see it. A snakey line of people were waiting to board one of the last boats of the day, but we were the lucky ones. We got to see the whole canyon again, empty of people, with the afternoon sun reaching long rays into the depths of the cliffs. And Rob even had a swim in a crystal clear swimming hole!
Distance: Roughly 12 miles, 6 hours, and 2000 feet of elevation gain (and loss).
This walk was #27 from the Tenerife Rother Walking Guide (2000)