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.
The grade 7 walk includes the ascent of Pico Grande at 1654m, the best outlook mountain on the island as it looks west to the high Paul da Serra plateau and east to the cauldron of Curral das Freiras. 15km / 9.3 miles, +800m / -900m to Encumeada or -1235m to Curral
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.
The grade 7 walk has an optional ascent of Pico do Suna and continues to Porto da Cruz. 17km / 10.5 miles, -600m (or +200m / -800m with the ascent of Pico da Suna), 6 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 grade 7 walk starts in the village of Caniçal, thereby including the south as well as north coast. 18km / 11 miles, +/-550m, 5 ½ hours
Levada do Paul & 25 Fontes - A walk which allows us to experience a completely different part of the island. We start this walk at Christo Rei close to the plateau of Paul Da Serra. We walk along the quiet Levada do Paul with uninterrupted views to the south coast. Upon reaching Rabaçal we continue through Laurissilva forest either on Levada das 25 Fontes or Levada do Risco, both of which have impressive waterfalls at the end. 25 Fontes (springs) is a group of waterfalls 30m high tumbling down to a rock pool and has become a premier tourist spot in Madeira, therefore extremely busy. Returning from the waterfalls we continue through the Calheta tunnel, then taking a pleasant woodland path to Atouguia and the end of the walk. 15km / 9 miles, minimal ascent / -850m, 5 hours
The grade 7 walk is similar but includes a levada extension via Florencas. 17.5km / 11 miles, minimal ascent / -850m, 6 ½ 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
The grade 7 walk is normally the same. However new routes are occasionally engineered between the Big Peaks. If such a one within the grade is available when we do this walk, we will take this route.
There will also be a free day generally on day five where 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