Start Location: 28.304292, -16.840489
Hidden deep in the foothills of West Tenerife’s mountains lies the beautiful village of Masca. Masca village is the starting point of this walk and is most accessible via car, public busses or the private walk tours run on the island. The drive itself is enchanting as it snakes through the surrounding peaks and lava tunnels overlooking the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of metres below.
Difficulty: Medium/Intermediate level walk.
This walk requires some level of physical fitness and prior preparation. Due to the length and conditions of this walk, it is vital that sufficient food and water is packed (2-3 litres) as well as first aid in case of trips and falls. The climate of Tenerife is predominantly hot and sunny which makes sun protection (sun cream) vital on this walk. Hats would be recommended for people with very fair skin.
This walk has something for every type of adventurer. Whether it’s the high cliff faces, animals or plant life that peaks your interests, you won’t be left unsatisfied. The walk is without question a favourite amongst the tourists lucky enough to find it. There are also some locations that are great for a bit of swimming and snorkelling on the beach at the end of the walk. Near the boat taxi area, only strong swimmers should consider this as the surf can sometimes pick up and pull towards the boat pick-up point.
We’ve been lucky enough to do this walk several times and have experienced everything mentioned above first hand. Wildlife that may also occur on this walk (although much rarer) include the bird of prey known as the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). When on the boat taxi back to Los Gigantes we have even encountered incredible animal sightings such as the flying fish, a super-pod of short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) containing around 200-250 individuals and fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus).
The route begins off to the left-hand side of a stony walkway that runs through the centre of Masca village. It is a very easy to follow route as it flows in a single direction sloping downwards. Soon after the walk begins, cliff faces rise-up and tower hundreds of metres above on both sides, guiding you towards your goal of the Atlantic Ocean below. At their tallest, the cliffs reach around 600m and at their narrowest are less than 20m across. The first most memorable feature of this walk for a lot of people is not just the intense and warding cliffs at either side, but the wild flora of the canyon floor. Soon into the walk, bamboo-like reeds shoot skywards just off to the right of the track and present the walker with various mini tunnels to explore. Although these tunnels loop in circles and lead to dead-ends, it is a magical experience to be lost in time for a brief moment before returning back to the path.
During the walk, short breaks are advised, not only to catch your breath but to experience the wildlife this walk has to offer. With a little patience and quiet sitting, the animals of these canyons become very brave and inquisitive. Small lizards, songbirds and barbary partridges will take food from your hands (take adequate bird food and do not feed the wildlife human food). Other notable features of this walk will present themselves one by one with each being difficult to miss. If you are lucky enough to find yourself on this trek after rainfall in days previous, then you are met with small but beautiful waterfalls plunging into pools of crystal blue or green water depending on time since last rainfall (blue immediately after rainfall and green once moss has taken root). The route continues downwards with parts of the walk becoming a scramble and sometimes requiring use of your hands. Soon the familiar sea winds will begin to meet you as you approach the refreshing Atlantic Ocean. The path opens into Masca bay, a beach where you buy tickets for and catch a boat taxi. One side of this beach is rocky and full of wildlife such as rock crabs, perfect for agile rock-poolers with a keen eye. On the other side lies one of Tenerife’s volcanic black sand beaches for those that want to relax after the awe-inspiring walk they’ve just conquered. Both sides of this beach are surrounded by the mighty cliffs that guided you.
The boat taxi is almost as rewarding as the walk as it gives a full panoramic view of the “Acantilados de Los Gigantes” or the “cliffs of the giants” with a chance of seeing the resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) known and loved by the locals of Tenerife. Finally, the boat pulls into Los Gigantes harbour – the final destination of your adventure.