TOP 5 WALKS IN MADEIRA

1. HIKING PICO AREEIRO TO PICO RUIVO

This walk connects two of the highest peaks of Madeira Islands, this is a stunning walk, involves tunnels, and some steep ascents and descents, with fabulous views of the central core of the mountains.

Along the way, we find various caves dug out of the volcanic tuff where the cattle took refuge and which served as shelter for the shepherds; we can also see various birds, some of the more important ones being species restricted to Macaronesia, the canary (Serinus canaria), Berthelot’s pipit (Anthus berthelottii madeirensis) and the plain swift (Apus unicolor), as well as other subspecies found only in the Madeira archipelago: the Madeira rock sparrow (Petronia petronia madeirensis), chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs madeirensis), and the firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis).

For those who enjoy plants, this area is known as a high-altitude heath and is marked by the presence of various endemisms of Madeira, which include the Madeira violet (Viola paradoxa), Madeira grey heather (Erica madeirensis), the rock orchid (Orchis scopolorum), and the Madeira kidney (Anthyllis lemanniana).

Near the Pico Ruivo shelter, you will find footpath PR 1.2, which leads to Achada do Teixeira. At Achada do Teixeira you can see “Homem em pé” (Standing Man), a basalt rock formation found on the way down the slope after you pass the shelter at Achada do Teixeira.

Distance: 10 Km

2. LEVADA DAS 25 FONTES

The 25 Fontes (25 Fountains) levada is one of the most popular in Madeira Island. Its name lives up to the number of fountains or little waterfalls that’s possible to count once you arrive there.

Starting in Calheta and going to the 25 Fontes, the path, which has a tunnel, reveals many landscapes and wonderful sensations. Along the way it’s possible to admire a wide variety of endemic species of the flora and fauna of the region. Enjoy the contact with nature and absorb everything that it has to offer!

After arriving to the 25 Fontes delight yourself with the landscapes and the environment, like the waterfalls gushing toward a magnificent lagoon. Take a break and open your mind. There are even people that dive into the gelid waters.

Rabaçal is a unique and magic place, abundant with cascades, fountains, lagoon and much more! Come and discover!

Distance: 4.6 Km (+ 4.6 Km return)

3. CALDEIRÃO VERDE

Beginning in the Queimadas Forestry Park, this walk is ‘out-and-back’, and crosses some spectacularly steep slopes, but is one of the finest ways of penetrating the deep valley of the São Jorge brook on foot; you’ll need a torch on this walk, which passes through a tunnel.

This trail begins at the Queimadas Forestry Park and winds along the walkway of the levada of Caldeirão Verde at 980 m elevation, in the municipality of Santana.
The levada of Caldeirão Verde is an impressive work of art built in the 18th century that begins in the main stream bed of the Caldeirão Verde brook. Passing through steep cliffs and mountains, it carries the water that runs off the highest mountains of Madeira, to be used to irrigate the farm lands of the parish of Faial.

This levada is used for agricultural purposes, but it is also an important means of reaching the interior of the deep valley of the São Jorge brook on foot, offering the traveler a spectacular view of the mountainous terrain of the interior of the island and the opportunity to walk through tunnels carved by hand out of the rock.
At the Queimadas Forestry Park there is a shelter (Casa de Abrigo das Queimadas), which retains the original features of the typical houses of Santana, including a marvelous thatched roof.

Worthy of mention are the excellent specimens of elegant Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica), European beech (Fagus sylvatica) with their dense reddish foliage, Canary Island junipers (Juniperus cedrus), Madeira laurel (Ocotea foetens), Pau branco or southern olive (Picconia excelsa), hundred-year-old broom heath (Erica scoparia) as well as some specimens of lily-of-the-valley tree (Clethra arborea), and Madeira blueberry (Vaccinium padifolium), which can be seen along the trail.

Species of indigenous avifauna that can be seen include the chaffinch (Frigila coelebs), the firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis), the Madeira long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz trocaz), grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea schmitzi), and the buzzard (Buteo buteo harteti).
Close to the Queimadas Park one can see off to the side a small settlement called Achada do Marques, a site that has been designated as Protected landscape, noted for its traditional farm terraces and old stone cow huts.

After you pass through the 4 tunnels on the route, Caldeirão Verde appears on the left of the levada.
The Caldeirão Verde lake is formed by water that falls from the bed of the Caldeirão Verde stream bed from a height of approximately 100m.
Indulge yourself and revel in the surrounding scenery and catch your breath for the return trip.

Distance: 7.5 Km (+ 7.5 Km return)

4. PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

Visiting some of the finest cliff scenery on Madeira, this walk explores the long thin peninsula at the eastern end of the island. The paths are good, but undulating - whether you get close to the edges is up to you.
The trail follows S. Lourenço Point, the eastern-most peninsula of Madeira island, named after the caravel sailed by João Gonçalves de Zarco, one of the three discoverers of Madeira island, who on coming near this piece of land shouted to his ship “São Lourenço, that’s enough!”.

This peninsula is volcanic in origin, and is mainly made of basalt, although there are also some limestone sediment formations. At the end of the Point there are two islets: the Cevada, Metade or Desembarcadouro Islet, and the S. Lourenço Point, Farol or Fora Islet. The stone partition marks where the Regional government’s land begins, and is part of the Madeira Natural Park. The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve and the Desembarcadouro Islet is a total natural reserve. All the land and sea by the North coast, up to a depth of 50m, is part of the European network of important community sites - Natura 2000.

The semi-arid climate and its exposure to North winds have sculpted the low vegetation and explain the lack of trees, which distinguish this area from the rest of the Island and is a veritable natural heritage. Here you can see the Island’s basal plate at its best and several rare and endemic plants. Of the 138 species of plant identified on the peninsula, 31 are endemic (exclusive) to Madeira island. In terms of fauna there is one of the largest colonies of seagull (Larus cachinnans atlantis) in the region, which nests on the Desembarcadouro islet.

Along the route you can often see several bird species such as the Berthelot’s Pipit (Anthus bertheloti madeirensis), the Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis parva), the Common Canary (Serinus canaria canaria), and the Kestrel (Falco tinunculus). Protected marine birds also nest here such as Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro), Bulwer’s Petrel, (Bulweria bulwerii), and the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). The Madeiran lizard (Lacerta dugesii), which is the island’s only reptile, is very common here. Another interesting aspect of this area is the high number of endemic land molluscs (24), commonly known as snails.

In the sea, you may be lucky enough to spot the world’s rarest seal, known in Madeira as a Sea-wolf (Monachus monachus).
At the end of the trail, you can dive in the Sardinha port, named after the old owners.
The Sardinha house is the base for a group of Rangers who work for the Madeira natural park, and who are responsible for watching over the area.
On the horizon to the South you can see Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and to the North the Porto Santo Islands.

Distance: 3 Km (+ 3 Km return)

5. LARANO AND BOCA DO RISCO

On this trek we will have the perspective of exuberant beauty of the northeast coast of the island, where the contrast between the land and the Atlantic Ocean makes this landscape simply unforgettable.

Along the way, there are incredible views surrounding the city of Machico with its, landscaping, houses and buildings. Then we will pass through the path of Boca Da Risco where we will reach a viewpoint that offers a wonderful view of the north coast of the island.

Distance: 12 Km

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