O MADEIRA !
A Floating Botanical Garden in the Atlantic Ocean
READY TO HIKE ?
Only 50 by 20 kms in size, Madeira is an island of flowers, a floating botanical garden in the middle of the Atlantic! Luxurious tropical vegetation from around the world was brought by sailors returning to Europe from far flung destinations. You will find grandiose terraced landscapes, craggy summits, cliffs suspended between the sky and the earth, waterfalls and walking paths along the high canals that give us the impression of being suspended above the canopy. The Laurisilva forest is unique and World Heritage listed. It is a relic of the laurel forests that covered Southern Europe 15-40 million years ago, and now only exist in the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira. Having not been subjected to the disruption of glaciation, they survived intact. Superlatives are not sufficient to describe the diversity of the island, the grandeur of its landscapes and the exuberance of its vegetation. A cocktail of wonders, which is perfectly topped off each day day with a “poncha”, Madeira’s famous punch, symbolising its singular way of living. Our base is a comfortable but basic hotel in the middle of this wonderful island, providing traditional food and a warm welcome. Each day offers different possibilities for walking, and the constant 20°C temperature is delightful !
• World Heritage Listed Laurisilva Forest
• Luxuriant and diverse vegetation
• Comfortable, traditional hotel base
• Fabulous traditional food (and Madeiran punch!)
This price includes :
• 6 days guided walking
• Accommodation (twin or double)
• All breakfasts, dinners & picnic lunches
• All transport during your stay
• Last night in Funchal with excellent restaurant !
Arrive in Funchal, the capital. Impressive and surprising runway above the forest. Close to the port where the first Europeans, Zarco and his followers, arrived on the island. They say Madeira was Colombus’ favourite island, before he headed further west across the Atlantic to discover the Americas. We transfer to Sao Roque where we are welcomed by Anna in the family run hotel where we spend the week in a peaceful and traditional village.
Vérada de Lombo Grande e lévada do Castelejo. An excellent warm up walk and introduction to Madeira. Terraces and more terraces, and we discover the start of a levada (the canals that form the agricultural base of the island – often with walking trails next to them). Option to climb the back of the Aghia (eagle). 5-6 hours walking and 500m cumulative climb/descent.
Caldeiro Inferno o Verde (option by tunnel), Ilha. A transfer to Queimadas (20 mins) brings us into the heart of the island. We admire the flowers in the bucolic Queimadas garden (dandelions that are 3m tall…!) and then follow a levada leading us to Caldeirao Verde and then to Hell’s Gorge, where we pass through tunnels and ledge paths (well secured). Very impressive but without danger. An area of wonderful waterfalls, deep gorges and luxurious vegetation – the famous Laurisilva forest. Descent into the hamlet of Ilha and a visit to Santana. 6h walking, 200m gain and 550m descent.
Sao-Roque-Machico or the other way… VERY beautiful traverse. After following the first levada which dominates Machico Bay and winding our way through wonderfully flowered houses, terraces filled with crops and acacia forests, our path leads to the Boca do Rico pass. From here we overlook the ocean, 350m below us. A magnificent balcony path above the ocean leads us to the Porto de Cruz, allowing us to descend to a volcanic beach for a well deserved swim. 15 mins transfer return to hotel.
Sao Lourenzo and rest day. An easy walking day and a swim. We transfer to the Baia d’Abra (20 mins) for a peaceful walk bringing us to the extremity of the Sao Lourenço point. From here we admire the view over the Abra Bay to the south, and the disrupted and dramatic northern coast. Volcanic cliffs and multicoloured karstic formations plunging into the ocean. Coves and turquoise waters, and in we dive! Fish and crabs galore – this is the spot that gives us a real idea of Madeira as an island. 3-4h walking, 300m ascent/descent.
Sunrise – Ariero and Ruivo traverse to Quemadas. A 50 min transfer to the Pico do Ariero where a wonderful traverse awaits us. We climb to the Arieiro Peak (1818m), then descend into a cirque of extraordinary landscapes. Walls of red and black rock… plunging into the mists below. Truly unreal surroundings. The sea of clouds coming in from the north often attempts to pass over, rolling and breaking up on the ridges of Encumeada. Wonderful views onto the surrounding summits and the Curral das Freiras valley. From here we continue to Pico Ruivo (1862m, the highest mountain on the island), where again the view is outstanding. Descent to Achadas do Teixeira and past the strange natural figure of the “homem em pé” (standing man). 6h walk, 500m ascent and 800m descent.
Camacha – Levada Serra de Faial + los Tornos – optional tunnel climb. Our last day of walking (about 4 hours walk with 100m ascent/descent) leaves us with a beautiful impression of the island and some lovely surprises on the way – we are reminded of all the things we’ve seen: forests, waterfalls, levadas, and we make our way back to civilisation gently. Picnic just before Monte and a free afternoon with options for you to choose from :
• Descent in traditional basket
• Visit of Monte village, its church and one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world
• Descent by cable car
We enjoy a last dinner in Funchal on the marina, and a night in Chafariz in a hotel opposite the cathedral in the centre of town.
Morning visit of the market. Departure depending on your plane times.