There must be nothing worse than to get old and say you regret not having done something. That is how I felt as I reached my 65th birthday and after hearing such wonderful stories of walking down the Masca Gorge I thought, I can do that! Well I have walked on the Great Wall of China and that wasn't an afternoon stroll.
Once the seed of the idea was planted it seemed that fate took a hand and by chance I stumbled upon a video (see bottom of page) and that was it. It looked straightforward, there were people of all ages involved, although I couldn't understand what was being said they were laughing and of course the person taking the video must have been walking backwards a lot of the time. So what the heck, with the normal routines broken by Christmas and New Year, I decided to give it a go.
The walk down is supposed to take around 3 hours, but I knew before I even set off that it would probably take me longer. I allowed plenty of time and reserved a place on the last boat of the day. I would rather sit around waiting than find I had to climb back up the gorge. I also hoped this would give me time for taking photos (which I did but only a few because these were taken as I stopped for a breather and as you can see the hand was very unsteady). I also dressed appropriately; for once flip-flops weren't going to be suitable.
The walk itself is beyond words (mainly due to lack of breath) seriously though, it is mesmerizing and breathtakingly beautiful. The track from top to bottom is around five kilometres and because of the number of people who do the hike, it is obvious where you go – turn left after the signpost and follow the crowd. It starts easy enough, and after crossing a small bridge and leaving the cultivated terraces behind, the trail criss-crosses the barranco in what seems to be endless turns and switchbacks. All the while, passing waterfalls and caves and sometimes running directly through the stream-bed.
The track is difficult in parts; often steep with lots of loose rocks, which even for the young and fit required sure-footedness. I felt without the helping hands for support these areas were dangerous at which point I suddenly thought of the number of people that had been rescued. I didn't want to ponder on that!
I had deliberately waited for the cooler winter months before attempting the walk and thank goodness. I can´t imagine what it would be like in the height of summer. It is shady in parts where the rock walls are several hundred metres high. In other areas even on what started as a cloudy day, the sun can break through and burn if you are not careful. I found it worth wearing a baseball cap and generally I don’t like anything on my head other than perhaps a pair of sunglasses.
High above the barranco can be seen overhanging rock walls and at one point, it looks as if a large boulder blocks the route. I was starting to find my daring descent in the rocky labyrinth strenuous in the extreme.
At long last, I heard the welcoming noise of waves growing nearer – fantastic! The path finally descends through a rocky arch. The steep walls recede and the sea and black sandy cove appear ahead. To this particular sticky, sweaty-bodied individual, the beach looks beautiful, the bay stunning, and the relatively strong sea breeze never more welcoming.
The Masca walk is one of the most spectacular on the island but don´t be fooled. It may be easy enough for die-hard walkers, relatively experienced hikers or mountain goats but it also requires great physical effort. I have done it once, I could not have completed it without the helping hand of my 70-year-old OH (it is fair to say that he is fit in all senses of the word for his age). After several days I still ache in places I didn't know I had and I firmly lay the blame at the door of this guy – it was seeing this video that made me think I can do that. Well I have and while I will never do it again, it was an adventure worth taking.