The Canary Islands and, of course, Tenerife, the largest of them, are a real tourist paradise, with long beaches, nice sea - warm all the year round - and bright and tender vegetation. At first sight, the Canaries fascinate you and you attain nirvana - you are truly at peace. It is this state of soothing bliss and emotional delight that is most dangerous for visiting one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, completely unpredictable places for a traveler - the Masca Gorge (‘Masca’ sounds like a ‘mask’ in Russian). Many come to ‘conquer’ it, but most are on their last legs when coming out of the gorge.
What is not written about in blogs
In the posts on the discussion board and in blogs, you can find stories with a lot of memorable im-pressions and exciting photos from the gorge, but few will pay attention to inconspicuous warnings, which you likely just pay no attention to as you are still young, healthy and like long walks. In the offline format, directly on the spot, there is not even a single sign about the features of the hiking tour, and most importantly - along this six-kilometre trek, you will not see a single warning plate, an SOS button or an emergency phone number. My mobile, for example, was useless for most of the tour.
Meanwhile, they tell about the frequent cases when the tourists have to be taken out by helicopter as it is impossible to rescue them from the gorge in any other way. In addition to quite rare stone falls, among the difficulties you can run into, there are falls of ground, mountain streams, huge boulders, steep ups and downs, where you can easily stumble or slip. Nobody knows how and whom you can contact in case of emergency. If you're lucky, the local tourists will, probably, help to contact rescuers.
Some tips for the daredevils
However, let’s make no mountain out of a molehill. If you assess the situation the right way, take it seriously and gear up for a few hours’ trek to the canyon, perhaps, the Masca (‘Mask’) will turn its happy side to you.
Let's start with the beginning! The first and main bit of advice for travellers - it is better to wear comfortable sports shoes, closed and lightweight, with slip-proof soles. Second, your clothes should also be comfortable, better wear jeans or sports trousers, which you can smear or even tear, since it is better to overcome some of the boulders on your buttocks. And, of course, take a sports jacket or a windcheater. In the 1 300-metre deep gorge, it is cooler than on the seashore.
Third, take drinking water along with you and something to have a snack. It will take long to walk along the gorge. It took us more than three and a half hours, although the first kilometre and a half we walked quite fast. The peculiar feature of the gorge is that the trek becomes more complicated. You will have to walk a lot, and also go up the hill, climb over huge boulders, go along a narrow path along a steep cliff, you will forget for a while about a pleasant walk in the mountains and think only about how to overcome the next obstacle.
After the first hundred metres, some people turn back, and if you are not very fit to hike, believe me, this is really the right decision. At least, it’s much better than feeling despair and exhausted in the middle of the trip.
The gorge allures you, and all the time, it seems that you need to go a little more, and ‘round the corner’, you will see a level road and a sea. That is not so. However, getting back is quite difficult, because if you are moving in the traditional way - from the Masca village where the tour begins - towards the sea, you go down all the time, and in some places, the slope is pretty steep. It will be much more difficult to go uphill again.
One more piece of advice: believe me, even if you usually take many pictures, a hike through the Masca Gorge is not the case at all. Here, you are not a photographer here, but rather an extreme tourist. There are many beautiful stunning mountain landscapes around, but it is difficult to take a picture while watching your step and you should always be ready to use your hands. In order to shoot a good photo and not to break the camera or twist the leg, it is better to stop, take out the camera, take a photo, and then put the camera in the case and have your hands free again. By the way, special gloves for fitness, as well as knee-pads, elbow pads, especially for children, if you are with the whole family, will also be helpful. I saw people wearing bicycle helmets. And several times I regretted that my outfit was not that good.
The reverse side of the ‘Mask’
And the last piece of advice. If you are not confident that you are fit to make this tour - obviously, not the easiest in your life - but you still want to go to the Masca Gorge, there is another, much eas-ier and safer way. From the town of Los Gigantes, in ten to fifteen minutes, escorted by very friend-ly dolphins, you can take a boat to a small cozy bay surrounded by large rocks, the same place that the tourist making the hiking tour to Masca Gorge are eager to see.
From here, you can go along the gorge in the opposite direction - along its side that is not very steep, at the risk of only getting your feet wet in the stream. And then when the road goes up the hill or seems more difficult, return to the pier. The natural landscapes here are also stunning, with high mountains, bizarre, swirling rock formations, diverse endemic plants and many varieties of trees, flowers and, of course, cacti. However, I will not assure you that this scenery - from going down the hill on foot or even earlier when you drive along a mountain spiral road by a local ‘cab’ from Santiago del Teide to the Masca village and just get ready to see the gorge - is comparable to the breathtaking scenery that you will see standing high in the mountains.
Back to the mountains
And finally, I can’t help telling you how we were amazed when we finally went through the gorge and were proud that we had reached the pier. There were a dozen boat ticket sellers, relaxed and enjoying life, waiting for us. We were sure that we would see at least a small tent with a red cross or a doctor. They are not there, so take at least a small first-aid kit along with you.
It is not enough to say that the Masca Gorge impressed us. Such strong emotions, both the incom-parable enthusiasm and fear, deep in my heart, are, probably, similar to a unique parachute jump experience only.
This hiking tour was a once in a lifetime adventure and I would not say that we could repeat it. Alt-hough, in the near future, we are going to Crete, and they say, there is the Samaria Gorge, some-thing like the Masca Gorge.
After our tour of the Masca Gorge, a group of German tourists got stuck there about a month later because of a hurricane and they were forced to spend the night in a cave. So, the authorities decid-ed to ‘close’ the gorge for tourists. However, according to the video on the media, a short fence at the entrance to the path heightened the travellers’ interest and not boosted safety. It remains only to believe in the news that most dangerous parts will be equipped with handrails and fences when the path is ‘opened’ again.