Archive for the ‘masca’ Tag

Island in the Sun – North Coast   4 comments

New Years Eve! An excuse to go further afield in our exploration of this island full of surprises. TJS had been up all night with a sickness virus and wasn’t all that keen to come out. I talked him into it as we were heading for the north coast and he’d been keen to see it. The road plummets down an astonishing series of hairpins to the coast. It’s pretty much a cliff and an amazing piece of road, one of many on the island. It pitches up in the small town of Garachico and very lovely it was too.

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The waves were absolutely enormous, all the more impressive in rising from the deepest blue sea. For a moment it looks incredibly inviting for a swim until you realise you’d be smashed to a pulp within seconds

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Its a lovely little town. It was completely destroyed by a lava flow in 1706 but has been lovingly rebuilt in the traditional style. That same lava flow has created deep channels into the sea that make perfect natural rock swimming pools. Well they would if the waves weren’t crashing around them. Everything was roped off for obvious reasons. You wouldn’t last more than a few minutes in the foaming water

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We spent a happy hour watching the waves over a coke and a coffee. Me and TJF went for a stroll around the harbour. Proceedings were enlivened by a drain hole under the harbour wall where the waves were gushing underneath causing a skirt-lifting rush of air every time the waves broke.

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Despite crashing waves the water was still a deep, clear, tropical blue and very fetching

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On our way back to the car we noticed some dark lumps on the rocks that I first thought were seaweed washed up by the waves. Closer inspection with the camera showed they were crabs. Very colourful ones and lots of them. I’m used to spending European sun holidays by the Med which is pretty lifeless. I forgot that this is the Atlantic and teeming with life

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We decided to head west to find somewhere nice for a picnic lunch figuring it might be less busy. It was an inspired idea. The road is spectacular, climbing high above the sea in a series of hairpins then burrowing through the cliffs in a couple of very long dark tunnels. Considering there is only a banana plantation and a lighthouse at the end of the road it seemed an extraordinary effort of engineering. However seeing as it led to a very fine spot at the Punta de Teno we weren’t complaining. Before exploring we sat down on the lava cliffs amongst the cacti for lunch.

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It was stunning spot away from the crowds, albeit a little hot. TJS was still feeling off colour so he stayed in the car

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The contrast was startling. On one side, towering cliffs plummeted down to a relatively calm sea with views back to Los Gigantes.

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On the other side the coast was being smashed by enormous waves. A 20 foot swell I reckoned.

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They formed perfect “white horses” and I was fascinated. As you know I love to surf on my kayak so big waves always grab and hold my attention. These would have given one hell of ride, emphasis on the one as I doubt you’d survive long after one wave

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The other side of the headland was calm and almost tempting for a swim from the jetty. The water was crystal clear and more large crabs scuttled around on the rocks. I just wasn’t sure I could get back onto the steps without a bashing from the swell

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The views from high up by the lighthouse were fantastic

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There was a small man made harbour on the other side and here it was calm and shallow enough for a dip. The beach was a little untidy as it’s a working harbour with all kinds of boat related detritus. Once in the water though it was warm and clear and full of fish life and it was a wonderful swim to end the day

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Even TJS felt well enough to sit outside on the rocks for a while and enjoy the views

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A fantastic spot that we’d picked on a whim and yet another spot to add the treasures Tenerife has to offer

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Rather than head home on the main road we took the one through the NW mountains. It’s a white knuckle ride of hairpins, narrow bends and oncoming traffic. The views however in the late evening light were just stupendous

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Ridges and deep gorges were the order of the day. Paths led off along and down them just aching to be hiked. We only did the Masca gorge on this trip but there is easily a weeks worth superb walking in this corner

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Out to sea you could see the islands of La Palma and La Gomera floating on the sea of cloud and haze

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Inland, as everywhere El Teide and its neighbour Pico Viejo dominate the island

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We stopped off several times to take in the amazing views (and catch our breath from the hair raising drive!)

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As it was New Years Eve we went into Los Gigantes (TJS stayed home and went to bed) where our friends J&A cooked us a lovely meal and we stayed and chatted until it was time for the fireworks. The hotel complexes put on a decent show which of course you can see for free from the balcony of a friends apartment. A fitting finale to a great day and indeed a great year.

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“Should auld acquaintance be forgot” etc etc

Island in the Sun – Masca Gorge   8 comments

It couldn’t last. The sound of heavy rain beating a drum on the roof disturbed my night’s sleep. Still, a lie in was welcome and a leisurely breakfast inside for a change gave us a taste of home as the rain continued.

But not for long. The clouds started to break and things looked promising. By lunchtime there was sunshine and we headed to the beach. The nearby beaches are exposed to the Atlantic swell so we headed for the shelter of the large, brash and very well known resort of Playa de las Americas. I was hoping to avoid these heavily built up resorts, really the kind of place I hate but in fact it was rather pleasant. Sure it’s heavily developed and rather “Brits Abroad”- you know, “Ye Olde English Pub”, Full English Breakfast and lager, but it was all relatively tasteful and spotlessly clean and tidy.

It was the beach we’d come for and it really was a good one. PdlA has several beaches adnd we picked, or rather stumbled onto Playa de las Vistas. Water was crystal clear and warm and not excessively crowded. The weather had completely reverted and was now clear blue and sunny again. The rain had washed away the dusty air. It was perfect

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We spread our rug and spent a very nice afternoon swimming and chilling out

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You can see the collection of large inflatables laughingly referred to as a “Water Park”. We had a play without realising it wasn’t free and were told off by the owners. We had to spend a short penalty period on the naughty sandcastle.

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There were even waves for a little body-surfing

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Towards the end of the afternoon everyone heads home early so you have an hour when the beach is peaceful. Again it was nice to think that back home we’d more than likely have been sitting watching it get dark through rain-spattered windows

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As the sun went down we strolled across the sands and watched the waves

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I was really surprised how much I liked the place. There are no roads along the beachfront so it’s all walkways and it was a delight to wander about in nice relaxed family atmosphere. It’s probably a heaving mass in the heat of mid-summer but on a warm winters afternoon it really was stunning. It certainly teaches you not to believe all you read in the press and I was pleased that PdlA had surprised me so much

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We were back home for sunset and the obligatory end of day photo. Rain in the morning, glorious again by the end

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Back to the title of the post. Masca gorge is one most famous walks on the island. It scythes down through the NW mountains and down to the sea in a twisted gash of lava rock. I thought this would be a good family walk as it’s all downhill and you get a boat ride at the end. Takes a bit of organising. Taxi ride to village of Masca before the boat home. The drive is itself a spectacular one twisting up and then down to the isolated hamlet of Masca at the head of the gorge. It’s a truly breathtaking spot

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After pithering around the village for a while and soaking up the stunning views we pitched down into the gorge

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Along with most of the population of wester Europe. I said that this is one of Tenerife’s most famous walks and that means busy. Despite the fact that its remote and seriously awkward place to get to, it was heaving. It’s absolutely amazing with the gorge twisting and turning in serpentine fashion like a science experiment cross section through the layers of volcanic rock

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Trouble is you share it with several hundred other people. Many of whom are brash, noisy and disrespectful of the majesty of the place. Many of whom are completely ill-equipped or up to the task of 300 foot descent down a narrow rocky gorge. Many of whom are too selfish and rude to stand back and let people past. Basically we had to queue to get down, most unsatisfactory and was well irritated by the time we finally reached the bottom

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I should have used this guy’s stick to beat a path (I had no idea what he was using it for)

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It really is a special, magical place that should be savoured. I’ve done similar gorge walks Greece and had them to myself and they are marvellous. It was such a shame that the Masca gorge was hard to love. My friends J&A (who were coincidentally on Tenerife at the same time, more on that in a letter post) had the right idea and walked it on Xmas day when it was deserted. It would be well worth making the effort to walk it either at first light or the end of the day to watch the sunset from the beach at the then simply walk back out again. I certainly wouldn’t want to walk it again in the middle of the day

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We’d been pinning our hopes on a swim in the sea at the end of the walk. Problem was the “beach” was just huge boulders and crashing waves, far too dangerous for a swim. Possibly could have jumped in from the boat jetty but by the time we realised it was time to go

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Still, the bay was magnificent in the afternoon sunshine

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Getting on the boat was fun as the gangway rose and fell alarmingly with the waves. Timing your jump on-board was an added excitement

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At least the ride along in the speedboat past the immense cliffs was breathtaking and made up for the few disappointments and frustrations of the day

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We took a chance for a swim on the tiny beach at Los Gigantes. The waves were huge and the red flag was flying although the life guards seemed oblivious. I was happy to swim but the Funsters were edgy having been battered by waves and dragged across the sands a couple of days before

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And yes TJS did get slapped on the back by the wave in the photo below 🙂

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A day to class as an experience rather than one quite as fondly remembered as others. I’m glad we did it but I’m not sure I’d want to walk it again.

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Back home for winter light on the surrounding mountains and yet another stunning sunset

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Back to less crowded walking the next day

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