Masca and Teide National Park Trip
We booked this excursion through TripAdvisor as it looked like a very good way to see quite a lot of the island. We were not disappointed. It was organised through Tenerife Ticket, which is part of the Tenerife Sunshine Company.
We were picked up promptly from the bus stop, just down the road from the CLC Paradise resort. The coach had several pick-ups around Costa Adeje, Playa de las Americas and Los Christianos before we headed up the winding mountain road towards the Teide National Park and Volcano.
The guide was multi-lingual, with all the information being in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. It was very interesting as he told us a lot about the formation of Tenerife, the history and customs.
We stopped for a short toilet break at a lovely little cafe and gift shop and then continued upwards from our starting point of sea level to the Visitor Centre in the heart of the Teide National Park, at over 2000 metres above sea level.
Teide National Park is a UNESCO protected Heritage site and has the volcano, Mount Teide, as its centre piece. This is a very interesting and varied landscape. Much of the mountainside is covered with the Canarian Pine tree, which is extremely important for the whole eco-system. We could see hundreds of walking trails leading off in all different directions.
As you come closer to the top, you come out into a huge plateau area with some curious rock formations. This has often been referred to as a moon surface, as it is miles and miles of lava and volcanic rock that has been left after various explosions of the volcano.
We drove across to the major viewpoint area and stopped to take photographs. It is an awe-inspiring landscape and looks like something out of one of the old Western films. Mount Teide rises steeply in the background to a height of over 3700 metres, making it the highest volcano in Europe.
From there we went back down the mountain to a little place called Santiago del Teide, where we had lunch. The guide organised this for us. We had a traditional soup, Canarian chicken and potatoes, fruit, wine, water and juice- all for 13.5 euros per person, which I thought was good value for money.
After lunch, we proceeded down some very winding roads to the old town of Icod de los Vinos to visit the famous Drago Tree. This tree is apparently over 1000 years old, although no-one really knows for certain. This village has a lot of lush greenery and tress, which is quite a contrast to the arid areas of the National Park. We did not realise at the time that there are also lava tubes here where you can actually go inside the volcano. That will be a trip for the next visit.
Pole Walking at Garachico
From here we went further along the Northwest coast to Garachico, which has been dubbed as the Unlucky Town. Up until the late 1700s, it was a very prosperous town, forming a convenient trading place between the Americas and the rest of Europe and Africa. It was almost wiped out by the lava flows from a major eruption in 1706 and has endured many other misfortunes including plagues of locusts, storms and attacks.
There are natural pools, which have been formed from the lava. These make a great area for sunbathing and walking, although you have to be quite careful as the waves can come crashing over the walls.
There was a person demonstrating a walking a climbing using a pole, which was fascinating. This is something that comes from the Island of La Gomera, where people need to be able to easily get up and down the very steep valleys and gorges.
From here we went past the vast tracts of Banana Plantations, which produce one of the Island’s biggest exports. They are very tasty bananas.
We headed back into the mountains to the hidden-away little gem of a place called Masca. WOW! The views were absolutely breathtaking. There is a steep path down to the water and for many years this was the only way of accessing Masca. The guide told us that Masca remained undiscovered for more than 50 years after the various invading forces landed here and it is easy to see why.
This is also the only place that serves the yummy delicacy of Cactus Ice Cream, made from the copious supplies of cactus that readily grows on these mountain slopes.
Masca is nestled amongst mountains and gorges that rise steeply from the sea, in a landscape that time clearly forgot and which looks like it should belong in the set of a fantasy film.
The journey back out of Masca was quite hair-raising, as the roads are a series of hair-pin bends, with steep cliff-side drops. Sometimes these roads were not wide enough for two vehicles and fortunately drivers were very patient and allowed each other to pass. There were a couple of occasions where our coach driver could not clear the bend in one turn and so had to stop and reverse back slightly to make a second attempt. This is not really what you what you want to experience when the back end of your coach is perilously close to hanging over the edge of a cliff.
The mountain road rejoined the main road at Santiago de Teide. We made our way back along the coast, through a little place called Los Gigantes, on the Northwest coast. This has several large sea stacks, which are reminiscent in shape of the sea stacks at Yesnaby Head, in the Orkneys, Scotland.
We came along the Adeje coast back to the resort and were dropped off right outside the CLC Paradise Resort.
We had bought ourselves plenty of food in the supermarket the day before so we enjoyed our evening meal with a lovely bottle of wine, sitting on the terrace of our apartment, watching the sun go down over the bay.
For more information on the excursion, you can go to Mount Teide and Masca Valley Tour on TripAdvisor