Making the Most of Masca

Wed, August 10th, 2011 - By Andrea Montgomery

As the island’s second most visited location after Teide National Park, the little hamlet of Masca is a real Tenerife must-see. But with hundreds of thousands of visitors descending on the village annually, it’s a good idea to know what’s worth seeing and what you can expect.

Tucked into the folds of the Teno Mountains where two gorges converge, Masca was virtually undiscovered until the road from Santiago Del Teide to Buenavista was constructed in the 1970s. Before that, only mules and feet were capable of making the perilous descent to the hamlet.

Tour guides tell tales of Masca being a pirate village, but there’s no evidence to support that. What is known for certain is that  Masca was the last stronghold of Tenerife’s original inhabitants, the Guanche following the Spanish invasion of the island.

Getting there
Most people choose to join a tour group to go to Masca, simply because the village is a considerable drive from many of the island’s tourist resorts, the exception being Los Gigantes, Alcalá, Playa de San Juan and Puerto de Santiago which all give easy access to drivers. Letting the tour take the strain is an easy option for avoiding the white knuckle drive to Masca from Santiago Del Teide but it does mean that you’re never far from the crowd. Independent travellers should avoid the hours of 11am and 4pm to by-pass the tour groups and have the village, and its limited parking, to themselves.

What to take
Masca’s streets are cobbled and very steep so leave the Manolo Blahniks in your hotel and opt instead for sensible sandals. If you’re planning on hiking the Masca Gorge and taking a boat back to Los Gigantes, you’ll need a sun hat and plenty of water and if you’re planning on doing the trek both ways (as I did), you may want to consider ordering a stretcher- bearer for when you get back.

What to see
If your nerves can take it, stop at one of the small lay-bys on the descent into Masca and drink in the precipitous views, they’re quite simply stunning. Once you get into the village, head down the hill and take the left turning which will take you to Masca Lomo and the small museum. Inside you’ll find life as it was before the advent of the road and tourism. Tiny rooms with bamboo cane roofs to keep mice and lizards on the outside; an inside, open fire for cooking on and primitive agricultural tools with which to toil the steep terraces.

Head back down the path from the museum and follow it for as far as you can until you arrive in the little circular cul-de-sac at the end of the village, then drink in the views back up towards the Teno Mountains.

Where to eat
There are plenty of restaurants in Masca, all of which are perfectly good and reasonably priced given their location but if you really want to get a feel for what it must be like to live in Masca, head to the well signposted Guanche restaurant housed in the former schoolhouse. The food’s organic and vegetarian and the tranquil views from their terrace will have you believing the rest of the world has disappeared – and you won’t really care.

Posted : Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
Category : days out
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4 Responses to “Making the Most of Masca”

  1. […] about Tenerife’s resorts, browse any guide book and you’ll stumble upon Garachico, Masca and Teide National Park. But away from the big guns of coastal tourism and the must-see […]

  2. […] a busy interchange for walkers on the way to the Chinyero lava trail and jeeps heading down into Masca. This west Tenerife village has plenty to say for itself if you give it a […]

  3. […] week thousands of visitors pile into the tiny hamlet of Masca in their cars, coaches and safari Jeeps. Once disgorged, they wander down its ridiculously steep […]

  4. […] to evacuate their homes and destroying thousands of acres of woodland and a large section of Masca. Simultaneously, much of the municipality of Tunte on neighbouring Gran Canaria burned. While […]

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