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Mountain walks on Madeira

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Madeira has a clear volcanic origin just like its neighbours, the Canary Islands, to the south of Madeira in the Atlantic.

Volcanic activity, followed by erosion, formed an  impressive landscape: steep cliffs, large canyons and gullies, dominated by a number of peaks and needles, which thrust themselves from the abyss out to the heavens in walls of verdejante green – conquering the vertical and providing awesome jaw-dropping vistas.

The great escape from the office!

Although the island has peaks and mountains of considerable elevation, Pico Ruivo being the highest one with 1862 m in altitude,  reaching these peaks by hiking from all the way from the bottom of the valleys  has not been very popular, and as such is still something of an undeveloped sport or pastime on the island.

Mountain walking in general appeared only quite recently, a few decades ago, mostly brought on by the very intrepid English who sought initially to take advantage of the very lesisurely level walways along the levadas (water irrigation channels of about a metre wide) for which the island is now famous for.

The heart of the island lies in the eastern part. It is a crater like hole – the remnants of a former volcano – where we find the village of the Nuns Valley or “ Curral das Freiras”. A popular lookout point or belvedere is situated at Eira do Serrado (1095 m) above the village. This has been a popular destination for recent mountain walkers.

Views down canyons, gullies and ravines

The second most popular spot for looking at the awesome peaks of Madeira from close has to be the Pico do Areeiro. At 1818 m above sea level it is the   highest accessible point by road and has an outlook top including a 4 stars Pousada (a type of hotel) plus parking with restaurant at the road head below it.

This is the traditional way on Madeira: walking far is unlikely what both the islander and the usual tourist want or are used to!

And mountain huts, like in the alps, aren’t just simple shelters but comfortable hotels for the slightly more advanced in years to look out at the scenery from behind the window. But things are changing and younger people are starting to discover Madeira as a spot for various mountain sports.










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