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

In my previous travel blog posts, you could read about my first day on Madeira Island and how I got COVID-19 tested on the airport, spend my first days in Funchal and visited the Funchal Botanical Gardens and Monte Palace Tropical Garden by cable car. In this post, I will write about my stay on Madeira island 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 and went for a mountain hike to the highest point of Madeira. This Levada walk is called ´Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo´.

Splashpacker travel blog: Cristo Rey Viewpoint at Ponta do Garajau on Madeira Island
Viewpoint at Ponta do Garajau on Madeira

First back to where my previous travel blog post about Madeira Island stopped

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 told me that the ice cream place in the street of the hotel I was staying 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. 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 and do 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)

 

After Funchal, ready for my stay in Garajau, Caniço, 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. 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. 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! 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
travel blog selfie at Ponta do Garajau viewpoint on Madeira Island
Selfie time at the Garajau viewpoint

 

 

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

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

 

On Splashpacker travel blog YouTube channel is a little video about the West Tour on Madeira Island

Before I continue to write this travel blog about the day tour on Madeira Island, I would like to let you know that I also made a video about the West tour. I will copy the video in this post to give you a good idea about this day tour 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, I met two Spanish sisters and a German girl travelling alone, which was a nice travel company for a day tour like that. And the guide explained to us a lot of interesting facts about Madeira Island as well. Here is the link to the video:

 

But back to the travel blog: more of the Madeira Island West Tour

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. 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 🙂

 

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 Madeira Island West Tour

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.

Something to travel blog about: a great day on Madeira Island!

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
travel blog adventure on Madeira Island: the cows during the Levada walk at Paul da Serra plateau
Some cows on the path during our short Levada walk. I forgot to record something of the scary cow moment!

Something else to travel blog about: my first 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. 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´, 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. More about this Levada walk in my next travel blog post about Madeira Island)

More travel blog adventures: Pico de Arieiro, 1818 meters, on Madeira Island
We started our walk from  pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo in the sunshine

More adventures for the travel blog: walking through the rain and fog to the highest peak of Madeira Island

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. 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
Cloudy and foggy durinig our Madeira mountain peak levada hike
Clouds everywhere!

Hiking between the peaks of Madeira Island: walking from the sunshine into the big cloud!

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. Which was also not too bad 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!

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 Madeira Mountain Peak Hike and Levada Walk to Pico Ruivo

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. 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. Once again, I made a little YouTube video about this hike, and here is the link:

 

 

Next travel blog post: more about the rest of my week 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 and do also the Madeira Island East tour. I also visit the nun´s valley 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!

Pico Ruivo: top and highest point of Madeira peak
Cold and wet, but I made it to the peak of Madeira: Pico Ruivo at 1862 meters

 

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