Let me tell you about the Masca road. I love the Masca road. It’s a driver’s road that invokes thoughts of Aston Martins driven by suave secret agents who are so confident they can even take their eyes off the ‘more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan movie’ in front of them to smile sardonically at the drop dead gorgeous but lethal girl on the passenger seat next to them.
It’s exhilarating to drive; full of twisting turns and riveting views that leave passengers gasping, teasing the driver who’s focussed on the road in front, concentrating on negotiating double-jointed switchbacks, unpredictable nervous novice Masca drivers and, if you’re unlucky, Jeep safaris that show no regard for anyone else on Tenerife’s roller-coaster ride of a road.
Its intestinal route seems to descend forever to the hamlet that is one of the Tenerife attractions that can tempt the masses from their sunbeds and sangrias. Some people are scared of the road, but there’s no need. Take it easy, use the lay-bys (but don’t hog the centre of the road as some do) and it’s not such a difficult drive. Locals know that visitors can be nervous and generally take this into account.
It was Andy’s brother John’s first visit to Tenerife so the Masca trip was a must. As a car man he loved it. After standing on top (almost) of Mount Teide the day previously we needed something special to come close to that experience. A trip to Masca’s Jurassic location was just the ticket.
Following a detour to view Los Gigantes (the cliffs not the resort) and then a plate of the best arepas Andy and I have ‘mmm’d over on Tenerife at the zona recreativa café in Santiago del Teide we took to the Masca road.
We’d picked a Friday afternoon as it’s a bit quieter in the hamlet. Although there were still plenty of visitors, finding a parking space was relatively easy. Last time we were in Masca was to hike the Masca Barranco both ways. This visit involved a much more muscle friendly and relaxing stroll of the village itself.
Masca is simply magical in many senses of the word. Its location, stunningly beautiful though it is, begs the question ‘why?’ Why would people set up a community in such a tucked away spot that’s difficult to access. Tour guides call it the pirate village but that’s tour speak. What’s more likely is that the Guanches were able to keep out of the clutches of the conquistadors in remote valleys like this one. Apart from the enchanted views, magic also comes in the old stories of shape-changing women who walk in these parts after dark… sometimes on four legs.
Ironically, despite the high number of visitors to Masca you can usually easily escape the crowds. The shiny, steep cobbled path leading into the heart of the village deters many who linger in the upper part of the village, causing a few stone surfing moments amongst even those of us who consider ourselves sure-footed. And, like with many tourist attractions, lots of people don’t stray too far from their excursion coach so the route from the hamlet to the Lomo de Masca where the museum is located is rarely well trodden.
Despite Masca’s version of a hard sell – the fruit seller trying to talk us into a bag of organic prickly pears – we opted instead for ice creams which, under a hot September sun, didn’t actually make it to the viewpoint under the emblematic Roque Catana. Licking sticky streams from our fingers, the remnants of the trufi conos that had surrendered pathetically in the heat, we sat awhile and simply absorbed a setting that is so overwhelming it steals your voice and stuns you into awed silence.
As the late afternoon sun turned the cliffs protecting the Masca Barranco golden, we were held totally spellbound.
Did I mention Masca was magical?