Splashpacker Travel Blog 26: West Tour & Mountain Peak Levada Walk on Madeira

In my previous travel blog posts, you could read about my first day on Madeira Island, spending my first days in Funchal and my visit to the Funchal Botanical Gardens and Monte Palace Tropical Garden by cable car. In this post, I will write about doing the West Tour and a levada walk on Madeira Island. Please note that this is more like a personal travel blog update. If you’re looking for practical travel information for your Madeira holiday, I suggest clicking here for that post. Or you can click through to the post with the best day tours and excursions on Madeira Island.

Videos about the West Tour and the Pico Ruivo Levada walk on Madeira

Before I continue to write this travel blog about the West Tour and the mountain peak levada walk, I would like to let you know that I also made videos about the West tour, and the Pico Ruivo levada walk.  The videos give you a good idea about this day tour on Madeira Island. You can subscribe to my channel for more videos than the West tour and the Pico Ruivo levada walk. Here are the links to the video.

Madeira West Tour video

Pico do Arieiro – Pico Ruivo levada walk video

Staying in Garajau for doing the West Tour and levada walks on Madeira

I also share about staying in the quieter area of Garajau, which is located or part of (still confused about this) Caniço. Here I discovered Garajau marine reserve, did the Madeira Island West Tour (advertisement) and went for a mountain hike to the highest point of Madeira. This Levada walk is called ´Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo´. (advertisement)

Garajau is a good base for doing the west tour and levada hikes on Madeira Island
Viewpoint at Ponta do Garajau on Madeira

First back to my previous travel post, before I take you to the West tour and my first levada walk on Madeira

But let´s first go back to where I ended my previous travel blog update about Madeira Island. After my visit to the garden parks in Funchal, I went to eat the best icecream in town. The driver from the airport shuttle (advertisement) told me that the ice cream place in the street of the hotel I was staying (advertisement) is the best of Funchal. It´s a recommended hotel, by the way, click the previous link for booking or here for a deal on Agoda (advertisement).

Ready for Garajau to do some day tours and levada hikes

The yoghurt flavour icecream I choose was really nice! I bought a little tray of chocolate almonds for the receptionist to apologise for my first day and also because she always did her best to give me a good service. Satisfied about my days in Funchal I went to sleep early that night and was ready for my stay in Garajau and to explore more of the island, get ready for the West tour and some Levada walks in Madeira.


Travel blog tip for Madeira Island: Gelataria Italiana Da Lorenzo, for the best ice cream in Funchal!
Da Lorenzo: the best ice cream in Funchal (recommended by a local)


Ready for my stay in Garajau, Caniço, to do the West Tour and levada walk on Madeira island

So the reason I choose for Garajau was to stay in a quieter place. Usually, I stay in guesthouses or hostels but, due to the coronavirus, I found a very good offer in the Garajau Dom Pedro hotel (advertisement). I only paid a few Euro´s more than by staying in a hostel and it felt very luxury to me! And I can absolutely recommend this hotel if you like quietness and nature. Once again the previous link was to book your stay on booking or click here for Agoda (advertisement).

Dom Pedro Garajau hotel was a great place to stay for discovering more of Madeira

The place is full of plants and flowers, there are swimming pools and you have a view over the Atlantic Ocean. After dropping my luggage I went to discover the area a bit and found that there was actually a marine reserve located very close to from where I was staying. I came across another cable car to bring me down to a tiny beach, surrounded by high cliffs, where I found the cutest dive centre: in a cave!


Garajau bay marine reserve, view from the cable car
Welcome to Garajau bay, right at the end in the cliff is a dive centre located in a cave!! View from the cable car
next on Splashpacker travel blog: scuba diving the marine reserve in Garajau with Mero Diving Center on Madeira Island
Mero diving center: the cutest little dive centre in a cave I ever saw in my life!

Soon on Splashpacker travel blog: Scuba diving the marine reserve of Garajau on Madeira Island

So I instantly became really enthusiastic about this place. Especially because it was a surprise for me to find another cable car, a beautiful bay with a protected marine reserve and this little dive centre. I had not informed myself about Garajau really, so after arriving I just decided to walk to the seashore. I also found a big statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the bay. Although much smaller, in combination with hearing the Portuguese language everywhere around me, I almost started to imagine myself in Brasil!

Garajau has a great location to do the west tour and Levada walks on Madeira

I also found a nice vegetarian dinner that night and went to sleep early again because my alarm went off at 07.00 am to do the Madeira Island West Tour! In my next travel blog post, you can read about scuba diving this marine reserve on Madeira Island.



Statue of Jesus Christ at Cristo do Rei Garajau Bay
There was also a big Jesus statue at Garajau Bay Viewpoint
Garajau is a good place to do tours and levada hikes on Madeira
Garajau view point



room at Dom Pedro Garajau Nature Hotel in Garajau on Madeira Island
I slept like a princess in this bed in the Dom Pedro Garajau Nature Hotel (advertisement)

Ready for the Madeira Island West Tour

The next morning it again felt like a luxury treat to receive a good breakfast in a hotel like that. Especially after working in hotels myself, it felt very nice to be a guest myself this time! And then I got picked up for the Madeira Island West Tour. It was an amazing day tour which gave me a good impression of the island and its amazing variety in landscapes and microclimate. We first stopped in Camara de Lobos, which is a cute little fishing villages surrounded by banana plantages, before we stopped at more places like the Cabo Girao viewpoint with a glass plate to stand on at 580 metres above the sea level.

The bay of Camara de Lobos on Madeira Island
Camara de Lobos
Fishing Boats of Camara de Lobos on Madeira
Camara de Lobos
viewpoint at Cabo Girao
The view of Cabo Girao


Why I did not rent a car for doing the west tour and levada walks on Madeira

There are a few reasons I booked tours for doing the West tour and Levada walks on Madeira island. Especially because I was travelling alone, and did not feel very comfortable about renting a car on Madeira Island, I was really happy to see Madeira island this way. Also excursions like that was a great way to meet other travels. I met nice people during the west tours and levada walks on Madeira. And the guide explained to us a lot of interesting facts about Madeira Island as well.


A little more about the West tour before I continue with my levada walk on Madeira

But let´s continue with the travel blog! After some stops at the South West coast of Madeira Island, we continued our tour through the Encumeada Pass which was a nice ride with beautiful stops. We stopped at the viewpoint before heading to the cute little village of São Vicente. This village is very peaceful and surrounded by high cliffs.

Porto Moñiz is visited during the Madeira Island West Tour

After some more stops at a waterfall and the bit more rough coast in the North-West of Madeira Island, we had a lunch break in Porto Moñiz were we also could have a swim in the natural pools. By the way,  you can book this tour through Get Your Guide by clicking on this link and I receive a small commission on your booking, thank you :-)


Tours and levada walks on Madeira: Encumeada Viewpoint during the Madeira Island West Tour
Encumeada Viewpoint


São Vicente in the North-West coast of Madeira Island
The lovely and peaceful village of São Vicente


A visit to the natural pools of Porto Moñiz during the Madeira Island West Tour
The natural pools of Porto Moñiz


Last stops of the West tour: a short levada walk on Madeira

After our lunch break, we continued our Madeira island tour over Paul da Serra plateau where we suddenly imagined ourselves in Scotland and where we could do a short Levada walk. We already encountered cows on the road when we were driving here. But during the Levada walk, there were also some cows on our path. The guide told us before that the cows will just move away if we push them a little bit or by stepping our feet on the ground as a bull does. However, we came across a cow who did not want to move and started to push her head against the Spanish girl.

The west tour, with the little levada walk, gave me a good impression of Madeira

I have to say that it freaked me out a bit and I was glad not to be walking here alone! But it all had a happy end. It now gives me something adventurous to travel blog about: the scary cow of Madeira Island! After we returned back to the South West coast where we had a last stop at Ponta da Sol. It was a very nice day with lovely company and a good guide. It gave me a very good overall idea of the island of Madeira. It was quite a long day too and once again, I went to sleep early that night to get ready for my first Levada walk the next day!


Paul da Serra plateau on Madeira Island
We suddenly imagined ourselves in Scotland on Paul da Serra plateau
During the west tour, you do a little levada walk on Madeira
Some cows on the path during our short Levada walk. I forgot to record something of the scary cow moment!

After the west tour, I did my first real Levada Walk on Madeira Island

So the next day I was ready for my first ´official´ Levada walk on Madeira Island. Usually, I do walk a lot, but I am not an experienced mountain hiker. For this reason, I booked an intermediate level Levada walk for my first hike here. However, nobody else was booked in for this hike and they asked me already the day before if I was happy to join the advanced level mountain hike between two peaks of Madeira. I hesitated because I am not very good with heights.

Ready for Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo Levada walk on Madeira

But I decided to do it anyway and so today I was ready for the Levada peak walk called ´Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo´ (advertisement), the highest peak of Madeira. If you like to book Levada walks on Madeira Island you can also use Get Your Guide and I recommend also to do the 25 fountains of Rabaçal (advertisement). More about this Levada walk in my next travel blog post about Madeira Island).


Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo levada walk on Madeira
We started our walk from  pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo in the sunshine

Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo levada walk on Madeira

They say that the weather on Madeira is always a surprise. It reminds me of the movie ´Forest Gump´ and the phrase used in this movie: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get. Well, that´s exactly the case of the weather on Madeira Island. I started my Levada walk with sun protection factor 50 on my face, a short pair of trousers and a cap for the sun.

The changing weather during the mountain peak levada hike on Madeira

Fortunately, our guide recommended me to put the leggings I had brought with me and also to put on my warmer rain jacket. And I was very happy she gave me this advice. When we started the hike, it was only 8 degrees Celcius but it was still sunny.

Madeira Levada Mountain Peak Walk: PIco do Arieiro - Pico Ruivo
We soon walked into a big cloud
Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo mountain hike and levada walk on Madeira Island
Hiking from Pico de Arierio to Pico Ruivo on Madeira
Weather changed from the west tour: cloudy during my first levada walk on Madeira
Clouds everywhere!

My first levada walk on Madeira: hiking from one mountain peak to the highest point on Madeira

However, as soon as we start walking, we walked into a huge cloud! And this cloud did not really disappear for the rest of the day. It was either foggy or rainy and windy during the complete hike. Somehow, since I was not very good with heights, I did not really mind the fact that we missed all the beautiful views from here. But I did get very cold.

The highest peak of Madeira: Pico Ruivo at 1862 m.

It was also a good thing, after spending a hot summer on the Canary Islands. The complete hike included 4600 steps and it was an adventure but a nice adventure. I really had a great day and did make it to the top of Madeira. It´s called Pico Ruivo and located at 1862 meters above the sea level! Click here if you like to book this hike too! (I receive a small commission on your purchase through this link).

Madeira Mountain Walk to Pico Ruivo, the highest point of Madeira
I did not mind that I couldn´t see how high we were walking!
Stairs and slippery road at Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo Madeira Levada walk
Be prepared: 4600 steps and sometimes the steps look like this. Put comfortable, preferably waterproof, shoes and with a good grip!
Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo on Madeira
An idea about the view of Pico de Arieiro (on the less cloudy moment of the Madeira peak hike)

Tip for your hike between the mountain tops and this levada walk on Madeira Island

As already mentioned, the weather is unpredictable and therefore I highly recommend to bring clothes for warm and cold weather. But one thing you really have to do is put on shoes with a good grip. Especially when it starts to rain, it can get very slippery. Also, you pass some tunnels but if you do a guided hike the company will give you waterproof torches. You can also have a look at the blogpost about an affordable waterproof cellphone that I love for my adventurous travels!

If you like to do this levada walk on Madeira by rent a car

If you like to do this Levada mountain walk on your own, which I do not recommend, then take at least a flashlight with you (you can use your cellphone but the tunnels can also get very wet). Also, keep in mind that this is not a circular hiking trail, so don´t forget to organise your transport back to the car at the beginning of this trail, if you go on your own.

Next travel blog post: more excursions, day tours and levada walks on Madeira Island

As always is my post getting longer than planned. so I leave it with those three days and continue about the rest of my week in my next travel blog post about Madeira Island. I will go scuba diving in the marine reserve of Garajau, do another Levada walk called 25 fountains & Rabacal (advertisement) and do also the Madeira Island East tour (advertisement). I also visit the nun´s valley (advertisement) on a half-day tour before returning to Funchal and get ready for the Azores Islands. Stay tuned if you like and feel free to sign up for my mailing list below. Happy and safe travels to all of you!

You can also check out my post with practical travel information for a holiday to Madeira, and the best tours and excursions for Madeira Island.

*As an associate from Booking, Agoda, 12go.co and Get your Guide, I earn from qualifying purchases

Pico Ruivo: top and highest point of Madeira peak
Pico Ruivo at 1862 meters, levada mountain hike on Madeira


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