Erjos to Masca - an uphill-downhill-uphill walk

by BardofEly

Erjos is in the northwest of Tenerife and a popular starting place for walks. Masca is a mountain village popular with tourists. Many people enjoy exploring Tenerife by bus.

My walk from Erjos to Masca
I have often seen a party of trekkers and a guide get off the bus in Erjos and set off up a footpath and I wondered where it led. Looking on a map, as the crow flies it appeared that over the mountain lay Masca, and seeing as this Shangri-la of Tenerife is one of my favourite places I thought I'd see if I could walk there.

Valle de Arriba

Tenerife village in a valley
Valle Arriba

Erjos ponds

Freshwater ponds of Erjos
Charcos de Erjos
Charcos de Erjos

Freshwater ponds in Tenerife

It is unusual to find freshwater pools in Tenerife

The hikers always have rucksacks and walking sticks and waterproof clothing and look prepared for problems they may encounter. Bearing this in mind, and knowing that it is often shrouded in cloud on the mountains I packed a light anorak, only to find that the day turned out to be a scorcher.

Setting off up the pathway I had a splendid view of the freshwater pools of Erjos below and continuing upward but looking down on the other side I could see Valle de Arriba and the wonderful patchwork of fields and terraces in the valley that goes down to Santiago del Teide. The ponds of Erjos, by the way, are home to the two types of frogs in Tenerife. Most of the island is lacking suitable natural habitats for these amphibians.

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Santiago del Teide

View over a Tenerife mountain town
The road to Masca starts here
The road to Masca starts here

Canary Bellflower

An endemic wild flower
Canarina canariensis
Canarina canariensis

Wild Thyme

Wild flowers

I also spotted some pretty little purple flowers of the Sand Crocus (Romulea grandiscapa) peeking out of the short grass and some clumps of Wild Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and couldn't resist crushing a bit and inhaling the wonderful aroma.

My path went up into a pinewood I normally see from the road below. It was full of the smell of pine needles and that lovely earthy scent you get in such places. Unfortunately the path petered out and gave way to some very steep ground and so I decided to go back and see if there was another route.

I found another path and discovered a huge patch of the beautiful Canary Bellflower (Canarina canariensis) in one section of a wood I went through and it was doing so well it was even creeping up into the trees.

I continued on the path, which led on to another and soon it was a matter of steep rocky paths downhill followed by a climb uphill and then through more forest and then onto a mountainside from where I spotted way down below the winding road into Masca.

There was no obvious pathway down and all I could do was keep going. I was thinking it was a good job I was on my own because if I had had anyone with me by now they would have been saying "How much further?" and all I would have been able to say would have been "It's over that way!"

El Palmar

View over valley and El Palmar
In the Teno valley of El Palmar
In the Teno valley of El Palmar

Buenavista del Norte

El Palmar

After more up a mountain and down a mountain walking I found an incredible view in the other direction looking down towards Las Portelas, El Palmar and Buenavista. A sign pointed to Las Portelas but I wanted Masca and after another bit of climbing I at last found a path going downward.

I ended up by the "mirador" on the road out of Masca towards Buenavista and after my long journey I stopped off for a bite to eat. I had goat's cheese and cactus jam and a cool Dorada - heaven!

Looking at my watch I saw that it was only 2pm and I knew from my bus timetable there was a bus to Santiago del Teide at just gone 4. I sauntered down into Masca feeling well pleased with myself for having found a way of walking to the mountain village.

I wandered down into the barranco a little way where I was pleased to find some Euphorbia atropurpureaspurge in bloom with its attractive dark purple-brown flowers. Almond trees were pretty in pink, the sun was shining and I was thinking what a successful day I was having.

Eventually it was time to catch my bus but this is where my day started to go downhill fast. I waited till 4.30 but no bus.

I came to the horrible realisation that I was the odd one out, and it wasn't just because of my green beard. All the other people were couples or families with cars, tourists in guided parties, young guys on motorbikes or people who worked in Masca.

I waited for the 5.15 to Buenavista but it didn't arrive either. I tried flagging down a taxi but that didn't work.

Almond blossom

Almond trees flower in spring
Blossom of the almond trees
Blossom of the almond trees


Tenerife's Shangri-La
Mountain village of Masca
Mountain village of Masca

Hairpin bends

Tenerife Sun

I knew the only way back was the nightmare walk uphill all the way along the zigzag road with the hairpin bends and I was dreading it. I was soon hot and sweaty as I started the steep climb and had to take a breather on the wall.

As I pondered the right mess I had gotten myself into a car pulled up and offered me a lift. The driver who was from Los Gigantes could see my predicament and he dropped me off in Santiago del Teide. Thank you again to a true Tenerife knight of the road.

Footnote: This story first appeared in the Tenerife Sun as Ups and downs of life on a mountain walk.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

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Updated: 01/10/2013, BardofEly
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