We have one final week to finish tramping around the mountains of Portugal’s Island of Madeira. Must wake early tomorrow for a drive up to Madeira’s third highest peak, “Pico do Areeiro,” and catch sunrise over the jagged mountains.
Shades of light over the rocks need no photoshop. This well-maintained trail passes sharp drop-offs with panoramas of rugged landscapes.
A bit nippy up here, but climbing rocks and steps warms you up in no time.
A thunderstorm awakens us the next morning. Socked-in all day with downpours and beads of hail. Snow covers the mountains, and locals tell us that there is no memory of snow at such low levels. Thus, our planned mountain hike to the second highest peak will not happen today as the road has been closed.
No problem. We will stroll around the Botanical Gardens near downtown Funchal and take care of travel business as well. Shall schedule the mandatory COVID PCR tests less than twenty-four hours prior to our flight back to the United States. Fingers crossed.
Might as well give a plate of grilled limpets another chance to fancy our taste buds.
Turns out that they taste way better than the first time we ate them. It must be time to go home, as our food cycles start repeating.
A hike at lower altitude takes us through dense mountainous forest with unique flora complete with waterfalls.
This “Levada do Alecrim” hike promises an easy 4.6-mile (7.4 kilometers) level walk. Thick forest protects us from the strong winds as we make our way looking for the Levada. Nothing level about this hike thus far.
“Levadas” are channels of water with a gentle slope created to move water from the north of the island to the south. There are 870 miles (1400 kilometers) worth on this island, and smooth maintenance trails run alongside them making for pleasant walking.
The air is at its freshest. Good thing. Because we get lost and turn a relatively easy hike into an 8-mile (12.8 kilometers) aerobic marathon! We finally find a Levada, but by then figure it best to hike back the same way we came, as we have no idea where this Levada leads.
Ain’t no stopping us now. The following day’s hike brings us on a heart-pumping trail to the highest peak on Madeira Island, “Pico Ruivo,” where snow and ice still linger from the storm.
Clouds cover most of the panoramic view, but much to appreciate, nonetheless.
We gaze across to Pico Areeiro and the trail we plan to traverse to Pico das Torrres, the second highest peak. Still covered in snow, we skip it.
Definitely earn some beers and a dinner of pan grilled sardines back at Cliff Residence. Fresh, huge sardines taste so much lighter than the canned versions. Plus, we need this superfood to fuel up for our final hike.
Back to the old reliable Ponta de Sao Lourenco. The most eastern point on this island, and our favorite trail. To pay our respects, we hike each side trial along the way to the top, about three of them. That makes the hike 7.2 miles, (14.6 kilometers).
Usually, we get to this trail early in order to avoid the onslaught of cruise ship tour bus crowds. This time, we greet them upon our way back to the trailhead. No problem, the walk offers plenty of rugged beauty for all.
Our legs are officially shot. What a fantastic finish to our final days on Madeira Island.
Tomorrow, we hope to test negative for COVID so the USA will allow us to come home after three months of travel. If not, there are definitely worse places to be stranded.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!