My kayak had a sense of humour, just when I thought I was on board it rolled over and shrugged me off. Well at least the sea just off Masca beach was warm and soothing and the sun was on top form. This was just the half way point on the charity challenge for Fundacion En Pie and their ongoing support for mental health issues in Tenerife.
It was only a few days before that I was asked to cover the Masca descent and kayak to Los Gigantes but once Silverpoint offered to pay my donation to take part I was soon excited by a more hands on role. I was given Friday night accommodation in a private apartment in Poblado Marinero, perfectly placed next to Los Gigantes marina. It brought back memories of living in the area when I first moved over and also a boozy holiday before that when I stayed in the same apartment block. I resisted the urge to go and explore old haunts and had a quiet meal at The Chicken Shack in Puerto Santiago.
Soon after waking on the big day I met the assembling group at a café on the marina. The sea was calm and the sun was kissing its way down the famous cliffs as a beautiful day dawned. On the taxi ride up to Masca village the road sides were already turning into make shift stands for Sunday’s Subida A Tamaimo uphill time rally. Masca was as glorious as ever and just over 40 of us set off down into the ravine. Despite living here for 12 years and doing regular walks I only added Masca to my list a few months ago. It’s a steep and testing route but so rewarding with outstanding landscapes that hark back to the birth of the islands. The walk is very popular but on this day it was particularly busy and we encountered many organized groups as we set a cracking pace with just one food stop.
It was noticeable that since July there was a bit more moisture around after some welcome rainfall up in the high mountains around Tenerife. Streams trickled and some rocks needed more caution due to wet feet passing ahead of us. In the deepest heart of the path the light and sound takes on a strange quality like it has been preserved in a time warp,that merely made it more enjoyable. My initial Masca walk took just over four hours with several hours but with barely two and a half gone the cliff sides were diverging and the trees thinning out as the sound of the waves filtered through. Breaking through we headed for the beach and a cooling dip before the second phase in the kayaks. Some people did both legs and some picked one or the other so while a few went back on the boat we got ourselves sorted.
I have never tried a kayak before and imagined them more hollowed out like a canoe but they were quite flat with moulded seating areas, some were solo and some doubles. The tethered group was brought close to the mooring point and we had to jump in the sea and haul ourselves aboard. When I sort of got on I had trouble telling which way I should face but once lodged against the support strap with feet braced against the ridged floor I felt ready. They told me we would have a Zodiac with us – honestly when would I find the time to read my horoscope! then I realized that was one of the support boats. With plenty of encouragement from the experts El Cardon and Salitre I prodded the water and gradually got a rhythm with my paddle and dipping the oar on each side moved off with the convoy.
It was hard going but great fun, every now and then we bumped but there was a great spirit among the rowers and a determination not to get adrift of the pack. Rounding the first cliff face and seeing Los Gigantes way up ahead was a big boost, the cliffs look even bigger towering above from close to the water and even in the exposed sea it was lovely and warm. Dolphins abound in this area but I think they were hiding in a group having a good laugh at my cack handed rowing technique. About half way across I swapped to a two man kayak as one chap bailed out not feeling too good. I was at the front and now had to try to consider my poor partner, several times our oars clashed on my back stroke but we made good progress in the centre of the convoy. The last leg was very rewarding, as people waved from Los Gigantes beach as we turned in to the marina and moored up just in front of the bars. My shaky legs were glad to be on dry land and I was even more delighted to hear that there was a beer waiting in Rincon de Antonio.
Dripping all over the quayside we adjourned to the far side where the party was about to start, sponsors did us proud including a large bin full of iced Tropical and later a paella courtesy of Santiago del Teide Ayuntamiento. There was music and even a paragliding display as three pilots swooped down off the cliff top and landed expertly on the harbour wall with red smoke billowing around them. An alarmed local called the police thinking a paraglider had plunged into the sea so we had a surprise visit from the Guardia Civil and their helicopter – it’s good to know they are so quick to respond. The party was chilled, well there wasn’t much dancing in our legs, and the beer helped to numb the aches. I slipped away after a few hours for my journey back south, tired but very satisfied with a wonderful day.