I told you at the beginning of the Madeira diaries that it is a mountainous island. And maybe you too have at least heard of Pico Ruivo :). So far, however, I have told you almost nothing about the mountain area. So today I thought I'd tell you about 3 mountain trails (vereda in Portuguese) worth doing in Madeira.
I'll start with the most famous and most "instagrammable" of them. It is the one that connects Pico do Areeiro (1818 m), the third-highest peak in Madeira, to Pico Ruivo (1862 m), the highest.
1. Pico do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo
Unfortunately, there are no buses that drop you off at the trailhead. The only ways to get here are by rental car or taxi. The road is paved up to Pico do Areeiro, where the route starts.
Although I had read that it is best to hike this trail early in the morning, we caught some gorgeous weather in the afternoon.
The route is not very difficult, but I advise you to protect yourself from the wind. There are some areas where it blows strongly. Especially when you leave from Pico do Areeiro. That is, exactly on the portion that can be seen in the picture below.
We were a bit in awe of whether or not to do the route that day. That's because, at the very beginning, the wind was blowing so hard that I felt like I could barely stay on my feet.
But that only happened on a short stretch of the trail. Once inside the heart of the mountains, it was much more sheltered.
Also, be sure to bring a light source with you, because you'll be going through some tunnels.
Before reaching Pico Ruivo (1862 m), look carefully around. At some point you will make out the Caldeirao do Inferno, which I told you about in the last diary.
Caldeirao do Inferno – the caldera that can be seen distinctly in the middle of the picture
Once at the top, stay on your feet (because the wind is blowing hard) and enjoy the views.
2. Boca da Corrida – Pico Grande
To get to Boca da Corrida you need either a rental car or a taxi. Once here, enjoy the views this lookout offers over the village of Curral das Freiras, then head towards the trail entrance.
The path will follow the curve for a long time and will take you among more and more colorful flowers. This is until a fork, where you will have to turn right.
You will see a path going uphill and only after going a few meters uphill you will come across these signs:
If up to this point, the climb was easy, this is where the hard part begins. This is because you will have to climb up to Pico Grande continuously. First, you will cross a section with chains. After that, you will reach a plateau, where you can catch your breath before the final climb.
The peak has a specific shape and can only be climbed by climbing. There are chains to help you and the stone is quite grippy so you don't have to worry about slipping.
But the 360-degree view of the island is worth all the effort of climbing to the top. And if you're lucky enough to catch a sea of clouds, it's even more spectacular :).
You have a view of the Paul da Sera plateau, but also of Pico do Areeiro (easy to recognize by the ball at the top) and Pico Ruivo to the right of Pico do Areeiro as you can see in the picture.
3. Boca da Encumeada – Curral das Freiras – Boca da Encumeada
We did this entire route, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it in this form. You can walk the part of the ridge and then return to the car (if you have a rental car). Or you can go down to Curral das Freiras and take the bus from there.
The first part is quite spectacular, with views both north and south. If you look at a map, you will see that Madeira is quite narrow from north to south. So don't be surprised if from here you will see both Sao Vicente, which is in the north, and Ribeira Brava, which is in the south.
Once the ridge section is finished, you will begin the descent through the laurel forest. As I told you in a previous journal, this forest entered the UNESCO Heritage in 1999.
Although you see boards everywhere with information about this forest, I found it best outlined on this descent.
With its laurels as tall as bamboo and smelling of spices, this forest makes you think of Asian rather than European landscapes. And although the descent was quite steep, I really enjoyed the experience through this forest.
Once down in the valley, we stopped to refill with water and eat ice cream at the village bar, together with some women, out for a beer :).
But to get back to the car, we had to climb everything we had previously descended... So we took a nice walk among the houses with cherry trees at the gate, from which I admit that I couldn't resist picking a few :)), and I started the climb. In 25 minutes we were up, but the way was much longer than we expected.
Although it followed the curve, we crossed 6-7 valleys, so at some point we got bored. Only after 11 hours of departure did we manage to reach the car.
That was about our mountain experiences in Madeira. Stay tuned because the most spectacular viewpoints in Madeira are coming!
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