Madeira is still an island unspoiled by tourism industry and tourists. If you are keen on hiking and looking for intensive walks this is definitely the place for you.
Located on the Atlantic Ocean 500 km from the coast of Portugal, Madeira will welcome you with a mild climate and quiet strong winds. The island is commonly called “the island of everlasting spring”. The average annual temperature in Funchal, the capital, is about 20C. There are slight differences in temperatures between the seasons. They range from 24C in summer to 18C winter. As Madeira is a mountainous island the more inland you go the colder it is. So raincoats and a warmer blouse will be welcomed. Even in summer you can expect frequent rainfalls and fogs in the mountains. Northern part of the island is less sunny, wetter and windier. Southwest is known to have the best weather.
Madeira is the top of a volcano that rises about 6 km from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The mountainous area makes beautiful landscapes. The highest peak of the island Pico Ruivo is 1862 m above the sea level. The summit is available for hikers from two routes. One leads from Pico de Arieiro, is 10 km long and takes about 5 hours walking and admiring splendid view of slopes, tunnels, cliffs and valleys. The climbing is very not difficult in terms of experience but in some guidebooks is often described as not for faint-hearted”. The paths are precipitous but safe and offer spectacular scenery. Most tourists take a taxi to drive up Pico de Arieiro. You traverse for 7 km to Pico Ruivo and 3 more kilometers from Pico Ruivo to Achada Teixeira, a car park where your taxi should be waiting for you.
Another way to Pico Ruivo starts in a town Santana and is very popular amongst the travel agents. If you buy a hike at a local agent be sure it will be your way. There are some reasons for that. The main one is the safety. The trail takes you mostly through a forest until you reach above-mentioned car park Achada Teixeira. The scenery varies from view on the way from Pico de Arieiro. You walk mostly in dense woods climbing all the time so it is more exhausting but safer comparing to another
route. It also takes 5 hours.
One company – Madeira Explorers, organizes all Levada and Pico Ruivo walks. It does not matter from where and whom you buy, if you buy in a hotel or from a street agent, you will be Madeira Explorers client.
Author of Madeira travel guide: Ewa Witkowska
Read our article about Portugal here.