two major Mountain walks, which I consider to be the islands best choice: the very
famous and quite well equipped traverse from
Pico do Areeiro to
Ruivo (frequented by hikers) and the
Grande, which I like most among all mountain walks, and which, of course,
is more serious, especially in bad weather conditions and is tempted by far
Some of the flora on the way to the peaks
traverse of Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo is well described in many guide
books. It takes about 3 hours and follows the main range of the island in a
south-north direction across several tunnels and steep steps, contouring the
peaks of Gato and Torres with impressive jaw-dropping vertigo tingling downward
views into the canyons of Cidr‚o, Faj„ de Nogueira and Gato.
is getting to the starting point and from the end, Achada do Teixeira, back
down. You will
have to improvise transportation by either chartering a taxi on both sides or
having patient friends who may bring you up and down.
To save money
you may take a bus from Funchal to Monte and negotiate a price with a taxi
there to go up to Areeiro. From the other side at Achada do Teixeira, where the
walk ends, you will have to take a taxi down to Santana on the north coast and
then continue by bus.
average altitude of the walk leads you at around 1700 mts. across the heart of
the island, beware of the weather:
normal conditions clouds appear almost certainly at around midday, sometimes
even earlier. The best time to start is early
in the morning. The weather is still reliable and the views, especially
for photo shots, are spectacular !
in high summer you have nice weather all day round and then you may walk late,
too. In August and September it can get hot even there, but clouds, rain and
mist, strong winds can appear at any time of the year and change the conditions
dramatically within hours.
mountain walkers who want to be sure of getting the best conditions as early as
possible can stay overnight at the Pousada do Areeiro, or, in a more mountaineers
way, take a tent and sleeping bag and put it up somewhere (not quite usual on
the island, but...)
Pointing the way to Pico Grande
prepared: most of the walkers underestimate the mountains ! Cold, wet and
slippery conditions can turn the walk into a very severe one on its exposed
Accurate predictable weather
forecasts for the island are difficult to find, not only since the best ones
are in Portuguese, but because Madeira enjoys several micro-climates Ė the best
information is given at the airport, the least reliable by the local newspapers
or the TV!