Masca Valley, Canary Islands: Ubiquitous Volcanic Landscape.


Within the depths of rugged ridgelines in the volcanic landscape Masca Valley, sharp and unforgiving, leads you quickly from sea to sky. Beginning at the ocean with the goal of reaching the small village of Masca at the top end of the valley trail. The accent as good an excuse as any to get moving for the afternoon.

Masca Valley is on the south-west of Tenerife island of the Canary Islands. Aptly named after the tiny and long standing village, Masca,  near the top of the valley. The trail itself is only about 5kms long, however, it is the impressive lava shapes and defined structures blanketing your view which made me swoon.


Staring at sea level, you have to access the bottom of the gorge via boat from Los Gigantes, the area itself huge lava cliffs standing tall over the surface of the atlantic. Once the vessel lands you back on dry land, the beach, you have the hike ahead of you and a 600m climb to the town of Masca. A fairly easy trail to follow, cliffs on either side allows you to follow the valley floor most the way up. As the southern side of Tenerife is so dry there is no worry about a sudden influx of water though the few streams that you come across during your accent.


The journey to Masca feeds through narrow passages with gigantic cliffs, passes by many a lava sculpture and even a natural rock archway. As you climb the gorge you are at times belittled by the size of the volcanic architecture around you. Sides of the valley reach 100’s of meters high and narrow to as little as 20 meters wide. As a tiny little human you can’t help but to appreciate the power of Earth’s processes whilst standing dwarfed by the lands we inhabit.


Scrambling towards the top of the valley in the heat, forget sweaty pits it is more like an electrolyte bath. It isn’t gross, it’s a biological process. For sure you would be foolish to forget your water anywhere in the Canary Islands. The latter sections of the hike see the valley walls open up and widen as you come up under the village. Looking up the valley, ridge lines everywhere. Leading out of the valley a steep hairpin road glistens in the sunlight and the small village is perched aside the sheer mountain faces.


Masca is an isolated little village amongst the volcanic landscape on Tenerife. During the early afternoon it is lit up with sunlight and shows its real beauty. Come about 5pm as the sun moves west the valley falls back into shade, but the cliffs to the east show a pallet of colors with the last afternoon sunshine. The drive out of Masca is up to the top of the valley on a road that leads you back to the main highway, this road has a few places to stop and enjoy the visual charm of Masca Valley from above.


If you’re someone wishing to make a full day out of this venture a return trip to the ocean is possible with the water taxi back to Los Gigantes. Masca village will provide you with a view and short respite if at the top before delving back into the valley to be woo’d by the light intermittently creeping into the valley from above.


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