If the Cabildo get their way, visitors will have to pay for the privilege of walking down the Masca ravine.

The official environmental reason is clear, the paradise needs protecting and that costs.

A similar toll is paid to walk through Hell’s Gullie, el barranco del infierno, on the south side of the hills.

Forty years ago the village of Masca was almost com¬pletely isolated. In recent years it’s become such a tourist at¬traction that the paths on the walk are becoming badly eroded and the main bridge was burnt through in the fires.

The other reason may be economic. The mayor of Buenavista, the mu¬nicipality to which Masca belongs, is also keen to do his bit for the environ¬ment but his council could benefit even more from the proceeds from the paying walkers. Ecologist groups like Ben Magec see that economic sideline as the main reason behind the initiative. They are op¬posed to having to pay to walk anywhere.

Others, like the guided walk organisation Patea tus Montes, are entirely in favour of a charge to walk down the Masca ravine. According to their spokesman the damage caused by people walking has been brutal. These guides already charge €18 a head for transport to and a guide during the Masca walk. Anyone who can’t face the walk back up the barranco can pay €10 for a boat trip to Los Gigantes marina.