Today, we have come to the conclusion that Madeira Island is a ’hiker’s haven’. The island is absolutely full of trails running up and down mountains, into ravines, to waterfalls and along stunning coasts. The trails go from being quite easy to extremely challenging. Some are short and others quite long. With so many choices it is hard to choose which trails to go on. The one thing in common though, is that there will be amazing views and the walk will be up and down.
We had heard from a local shop keeper that the hike to the top of Pico Ruivo is a fairly short medium-level hike of around 6 km return, with spectacular views. Pico Ruivo is the highest mountain on the island at 1862m high. We could drive to a parking lot and start the hike at 1592 m. It would take around 3 hours. We were cautioned to take warm clothing and a waterproof jacket due to the drizzly weather in the clouds. At some points, it could be very windy. Since we tend to take shop keepers’ advice, we decided to go.
The drive to the nearest town to the mountain, Santana, didn’t take very long - in and out of tunnels through the mountains - about 40 minutes.
Then we started our ascent along an extremely windy road from sea level to the parking lot at Achado do Teixeira at 1592m. Before we got there though, we saw a sign for a mirador and decided to have a look. Well, if that mirador was anything similar to the hike we were going to take, we knew we were in for a great adventure. The short trail was not for the faint of heart! But the views were spectacular.
On we went. We parked the car just as the clouds rolled onto the mountain top. Almost from the start of our hike, we were enveloped in a dense fog and blowing, wet winds. The trail was a flagstone-like trail so the walking wasn’t too bad. In fact, because we were in a fog, it wasn’t even too scary considering the height we were at and the steep drops on either side of us at times. We were so happy that we had taken warm clothing with us. It was cold, wet and windy!
When we reached the top, we really couldn’t see anything but that was okay. We did it! Chris is an old hand at mountain climbing and gave me lots of encouragement as we neared the top. There was a moment when I thought, ‘No more mountain hiking for me’ but maybe...
The walk to the peak was around 3 km long with 800 steps as well as lots of steps in flatter areas. Coming back added another 800 steps. It was good that we took a dose of Vitamin I (ibuprofin) before we started.
Along the way, there were 3 shelters just in case the weather got really bad. We ate our egg salad sandwiches in one of them on the way back down as it was raining pretty hard.
So funny. When we reached the base of the mountain, it was warm and sunny. No wonder it is difficult to forecast or tell the weather here. Within a few km, and depending where you are, the weather is completely different. It’s crazy!Read more