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?
We have a car rented from 8:00 a.m. until 13:00. Masca is our number one priority for Tenerife. We would also like to travel over Mt. Teide. Can we reasonably visit these two locations in a 5 hour time frame? Do you have a recommended route?
It depends on your starting point. I’m guessing that as you only have a car for 5 hours you are on a cruise coming into Santa Cruz?
If that’s the case I don’t think that you would manage both in that time frame. With Masca being at the opposite end of the island it could take at least a couple of hours to get to Masca alone and that would involve driving much of the way on the motorway through some of what is probably the least attractive landscapes on Tenerife.
Knowing the directions well, you could just about manage it. But Not Teide as well.
Masca is beautiful, but Teide is unique. If it were me I’d use the time to drive to Teide along the spine of the island. It’s a beautiful drive with views over the north and south side of Tenerife that takes you straight into the heart of Teide National Park. To get the best it would take about 2 hours each way which should give some time in the crater as well.
If your starting point is somewhere other than Santa Cruz that might change things a bit.
Lovely description, Jack. Ages since I was there, so you have aroused an urgent need in me to go there again! BTW does Andy know you consider her “gorgeous but lethal”??
Thanks Linda. LOL – I think she’d quite like that.
I think I’m starting to enjoy the drive as much as arriving at Masca. This time I was disappointed when we got to it as it seemed to come up far too quickly 🙂
Having done this road many, many times, I much prefer the sardonic smiling role to the gorgeous but lethal one! To drive it is such a thrill, with the arrival at what you so rightly describe as magical Masca as a fitting prize. HOWEVER, I have been working on the Fast 6 film as a driver (not a stunt driver I hasten to add!) and had to drive from Adeje across to Buenavista on 3 consecutive days, taking the cowards way out and going either by motorway or by El Tanque. Feeling brave one evening, as they had wrapped at a reasonable time and we still had an hour of daylight, I decided to take myself off home via THE MASCA ROAD! It was THE BEST fun I have had in a long time. But what astounded me was just how different Masca looked approaching it from the other direction – it was like finding a completely new village on an island I pretty much know inside out. The cloud was moving in and the whole village was twinkling with lights in the mist just hanging there on the mountain sides. It was just jaw droppingly beautiful and I´m so glad I had decided to forego the motorway experience (straight, boring but “safer”) that night.
The next day I was so full of it that I sold it to one of the Universal Studio guys who decided to go back that route – big mistake! He´s from LA and is not used to such roads – ended up in Santiago ded Teide cursing me out with both his brakes and clutch hot as hell, which is just where he thought he´d been!! There´s just no accounting for taste is there?
LOL – That’s a brilliant tale. From LA to the Masca road. Who says Tenerife can’t give people a massive culture shock?
I totally agree with you about the view from the Buenavista side of Masca – a very different perspective that most folks don’t see casue they come in and out by the same road.
Sounds like quite an experience driving for F&F 6 🙂