For this summer, a trip to the Portuguese Island Madeira was on the list. We decided to spend ten days there. The first 6 days we rented a holiday apartment in Santana in the north of the Island and for the other 4 days we stayed at a Quinta in Estreito da Calheta on the south side.
After an unspectacular flight of 4 hours we arrived in Madeira and picked up our rental Fiat Panda from Avia – probably our most relaxed pick up ever.
When we arrived in Santana we loved the town immediately. It was very laid back, rather quiet (at least in the evenings) and the population density is rather low with houses sprinkled over the hills.
The next days we spent mainly hiking either along Levadas or in the mountains. On our rest day we visited Funchal.
Hikes we did in the north:
• Levada Serra do Faial (which turned out to be our favorite Levada of Madeira)
• Pico Ruivo, along Pico das Torres to Pico do Gato and back. Unfortunately the circle was closed so we had to walk the same way back.
• Levada do Rei
• Levada do Caldeirão Verde
• Ponta de Sao Lourenco (East cape). The east cape is very different as it has almost no vegetation and is very dry.
On our transfer day to the second accommodation we drove all along the beautiful north coast to the north-western town Porto Moniz. After lunch we enjoyed swimming in the old natural swimming pools with a great infinity pool. We could have spent hours there watching the big waves coming in from the rough sea splashing on the lava rocks.
The first day in the south we went to Lombada in the morning from where we hiked the “Levada Moinho” and “Levada Nova”. After lunch and a short refreshment swim in the pool right next to our room we drove 1000 height meters straight up the mountain for another hike. We really wanted to see “Levada das 25 Fontes/Levada do Risco” but as it is very popular / touristy we knew we can’t go there during “normal” hours. So we took one of the last shuttle buses down to the starting point, knowing, that we would have to walk up later. But because we did the hike at the end of the day there was only a hand full of people and it was really nice.
The next day our plan was to sleep in and have a quiet day…but after breakfast we started another hike and somehow ended up at the top of “Pico Grande”. Even though we walked in the middle of the day in bright sunshine it was really worth it. From Pico Grande we had a wonderful view and a very impressive atmosphere.
During our holiday we mainly focussed on hiking and exploring the island. We decided that our last day would be a photography day. We drove over 200km around the small and twisting roads with our Panda – up and down “Encumeada Pass” several times, twice over the high land “Paul da Serra” and even to Porto Moniz again. First we only wanted to catch the sunrise light but then we realized we had to come back to certain spots for the sunset light angle as well 🙂
NOTES & ANECDOTES
the easiest way to overtake a car on Madeira is in tunnels – usually the only part of the road which goes straight for a certain distance… overtaking in tunnels is allowed in Madeira
10% inclination / gradient on a motorway?? no problem on Madeira…
not only did we have the most relaxed & friendly car pick up but also return – we parked the car on the airport parking lot, left the key in the glove compartment and walked away…
one road segment on the south coast starting in Calheta going east:
tunnel – short bridge – tunnel – roundabout – tunnel – short bridge – tunnel – short bridge – roundabout – tunnel
we significantly lowered the average tourist age – most of the people who visit Madeira are rather 55+
we did not meet a single solo traveler – only couples (where we made no exception)