The hike down Masca gorge is one of the most recommended activities you can do on the island of Tenerife, in fact, it is the second most visited natural site just behind mount Teide. Hiking in Tenerife is one of the main tourist attractions.
Walking down Masca means you can admire great and tall walls that were formed sometime between 7 & 9 million years ago. The trail allows you to appreciate huge volcanic walls shaped by wind and rain that flows into the famous cliffs of Los Gigantes.
Masca, great and rewarding views in Tenerife
The hamlet of Masca, located in the northwest of the island, belongs to Teno Rural Park and although there is not many people living there it does receive an estimate of 800,000 visitors per year. Statistics make Masca one of the most visited and popular areas of Tenerife.
The small neighborhood has barely a hundred inhabitants who originally lived out of agriculture but today thanks to tourism have moved mostly to work with local restaurants, bars and rural houses you can rent to stay there for the night.
The history of Masca goes back to the time of the Guanches, the aboriginal inhabitants of Tenerife used to walk up and down those hillsides.
Sepulchral remains have also been found, as well as petroglyphs in roque Tarucho. Masca is also related to the pirates because some legends say that it was a perfect hiding place to surprise and take over the ships that arrived from America.
How do you get to Masca?
Masca is located on the northwestern side of Tenerife and belongs to the municipality of Buenavista del Norte. This area is very steep, so the corners and bends are very sharp (a perfect place to test your skills as a driver), the road is quite narrow.
The ideal way to get to Masca is by car as public transport does not have a really adequate frequency (check here for the timetables). That said the easiest way to drive to Masca is via Santiago del Teide which is only 5 km away. Alternatively you can get there via Buenavista del Norte.
Organizing a walk down Masca gorge
The beginning of the Masca trail can be easily found within the hamlet and it ends at a black sandy beach after a little more than 3 hours of walking. From the beach of Masca the best way to avoid climbing back up the ravine again is to take a short boat trip (or a kayak) to Los Gigantes marina where the excursion ends.
Therefore you have 2 options to organize the trip down the ravine. Go first to the marina of Los Gigantes, park the car and take a taxi to Masca to start the trip down the ravine (the price of the taxi is 27€) or going directly to Masca, park your car and then take the taxi from the marina to the hamlet when you have finished the route.
A DIY walking tour down Masca gorge
We began our hiking trip in the hamlet of Masca where we had parked our car not without difficulties. It would have been easier to park in the marina and taking a taxi up to the hamlet. Spaces are limited, very limited so bear this in mind.
In spite of being 650 meters high and the month of February we hardly notice cold (17ºC). We dress in shorts, the sun is not shining directly on the ravine so once we get into the gorge it’s a little bit chilly. It should be noted that inside the ravine there are several microclimates so it is not a bad idea to wear something warm.
Just before leaving the hamlet and following the path itself, a sign “welcomes” us, it´s a warning of the danger of landslides along the way. We wouldn’t want to be stuck inside those walls in a windy or rainy day so it is important to always make sure you have at hand a good weather forecast.
The Canarian palm trees and some abandoned farming terraces are the main sight during these first steps through the Masca gorge. At first glance, besides the beauty of the area we are struck by the large number of people.
In Masca there are only about 10 houses but you can see that the trail is very popular because we all go in the same direction. Everyone arrives and starts walking down towards the sea. Slowly we say goodbye to the small farming lands and enter a rocky universe.
We feel tiny surrounded by those tall 400 meters high walls. Our eyes are constantly moving towards the various basaltic dikes that we have seen along our route, different colors crosses the walls of the gorge longitudinally. Geologically, the Masca gorge is incredible. There are also some stone arches along the way.
After a little more than 2 hours and a half of trip down the Masca gorge we begin to hear the sea but we cannot see it. Behind a wall, we hope to find it but we only find ourselves in front of another wall and so on for about 25 more minutes.
We have reached its mouth, our final steps are close. We are almost equally amazed. In front of us, we see a small dock that is almost paradise for us; we will not deny that we arrive a little bit tired after more than 3 hours of hiking.
To our right is part of the cliff that closes off the way to the north, to our left is the small beach of Masca, which covers a distance of up to 40 meters and is 15 meters wide with low tide. Facing the sea we can see the island of La Gomera, the last stop of Christopher Columbus on his way to America.
Tired from the continuous stepping on stones we sit on the beach to eat our sandwiches. We have decided to take the boat back to Los Gigantes marina so we book two seats back (10€ each).
Flora and fauna in the Masca ravine
The Masca gorge is one of the most important spots in the Teno Rural Park. It is home to a large community of endangered plants and endemic species.
During the hike you can see cardons, tabaibas, palm trees, verodes, agaves and some almond trees. Also you can see potatoes, onions or pumpkins on the sides of the path.
In regards to the fauna you can observe some goats in the distance but also numerous invertebrates like small lizards, birds and mammals (rat, mouse, hedgehog, rabbit).
The “guincho”, also known as “osprey” is one of the most endangered species in Spain and this area of Tenerife is where you can find 3 of the 7 pairs currently living on the island. This gives you a clear image of the degree of vulnerability of this species.
Recommendations if you are walking down Masca
• If you want to park in Masca you need to arrive as early as possible. The parking spaces are limited and the amount of visitors important. The day we did the descent of the Masca ravine we walked together with hundreds of people (there are a lot of tours going down the ravine every day).
• Important: comfy clothes, water and some food. That is the minimum required. Do not forget the swim suit and a towel if you wish to take a swim once on the beach.
• The Masca gorge trail has a 5 km length with some steep sectors. You not need to be an athlete but a minimum fitness is mandatory. Think about it, once you start walking there is no way out of the ravine, either you continue down or you walk back up.
Top tours and attractions in Tenerife
Tenerife has all you may need to enjoy your holidays. Renting a car is a must to get around at your own pace and to discover those hidden gems (Mount Teide is one of them) that booked tours rarely get to show you. Anyhow if you are in a package tour but still want to do some tours by yourself please check this selection ↓
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