Day 2 to 7
During our time on Madeira we will be spending our time exploring the island through a variety of walks. There will also be a free day Some highlight walks that we aim to complete are as follows:
Boca da Corrida to Encumeada or Curral das Freiras - This walk really has the wow factor from the minute you step off the bus at the Boca da Corrida viewpoint. The decision to finish at either Encumeada or Curral is weather dependent, Encumeada being a longer route. Either has spectacular views of the high peaks in all directions. To Encumeada 13km / 8 miles, +200m / -500m, 5 hours.
Ribeira Frio to Portela - A straight forward and beautiful levada walk. There are spectacular views towards the central mountains from Balcoes near the beginning and later, down to the north coast by Porto da Cruz. The walks takes us through lush laurisilva forest of which Madeira is said to have the world’s best preserved example and concentration of this ancient forest. 13km / 8 miles, -200m, 4 ½ hours.
North Coast Path - This is a really nice walk involving little levada walking. From the Caniçal tunnel we cross terraces, slowly rising to the Boca do Risco pass, where suddenly the sea opens up in front of us several hundred metres below. We then follow a narrow cliff path to the pretty village of Porto da Cruz where there will be time for refreshments or maybe a swim in the sea water pools at the beach before returning to Funchal. 14km / 9 miles, +150m / -350m, 4 hours.
The Big Peaks - This is a fabulous walk, some would say one of the greatest day walks on the planet. Starting at Pico Arieiro at over 1800m, we wind our way through spectacular rock formations to Pico Ruivo, passing through several tunnels on the way. Some days you are above the clouds, with the islands peaks poking through and the vast Atlantic beyond. From Pico Ruivo an easy path descends past the strange rocks at Homem en Pe to Achada do Teixeira. On our way back to the hotel we normally stop in Santana to see some of the island’s traditional thatched cottages. 10km / 6 miles, +610m / -830m, 5 hours
There will also be a free day generally on day five; Funchal is a nice place to stroll around and take it easy. Alternatively take the cable car to Monte and come back down in a sled on the cobbles. Touristy but fun. It is also possible to visit some of Madeira’s famous gardens or the basket weaving centre of Camacha. Dolphin watching is also available. Some groups undertake the Ponto São Lourenço walk at the far eastern end of the island, utterly different from anywhere else on Madeira. Here there is bare eroded igneous rock with wonderful colour formations. It is dry, barren and windy, but the views over the rocky landscape and along the cliffs are excellent. The walk is a there and back one, but perfect for an easier day when it might be wet in the mountains. 11km / 6.8 miles , +/-200m, 3 ½ hours