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Monday, July 26, 2010

Madeira Hike Achada do Teixeira to B das Encumeada 25 July 2010

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Weather forecast was good so rang Amandio the evening before to collect us from the marina in his taxi at 0630 hrs the next morning.

He arrived on time and we sped off in the dark through many tunnels to Santana and then up the winding mountain road arriving at 0730 at Achada do Teixeira at an altitude of 1592 metres.

A glorious sight met us - the mountain tops were golden in the early morning sun, the sky a magnificent shade of blue and a sea of white cloud from the horizon to the foothills hundreds of metres below us - what a marvelous way to start the day.

The 18 km ridge trail we were about to walk is described as being "one of the big Alpine mountain walks of Madeira". It has a height difference of 530 metres in ascent and 1100 m in descent - all in all quite a challenge for us.

There are several mountain shelters on the first part of the trail.

After an hour or so we reached the trail to the summit of Pico Ruivo, which at 1862 metres, is the highest peak on the island.

15 minutes later we were at it's terraced summit and enjoyed the panoramic views and J performed her sun salutations.

Please click below to start the video.

Then back down to the main trail and a coffee at the mountain lodge before continuing.

Unfortunately the description in the trail guide did not match reality and, rather than risk going the wrong way, we back-tracked up the steep winding path for 30 minutes to check that we had not missed a turning - this unfortunately cost us an hour and meant that, as we had to catch a bus at 1600 hrs at the other end of the trail, we did not
have much time to spare.

The trail was a mixture of superbly paved stonework, steep stone steps and sections which were heavily overgrown.

Throughout we had superb mountain views as the trail worked its way up and down the steep sided mountains, crisscrossing from one side to the other of the main ridge.

We passed through laurel forests, broom bushes and under pines.

There was often a magnificent floral display including Margaritas, foxgloves,

blue orchids growing on the damp rock faces and other flowers.

There was almost a constant hum of bees harvesting the nectar from the many wild flowers.

Time out !

The end is in sight !

We reached the Nr 6 bus stop on the Encumeada pass with just 15 minutes to spare - tired, but exuberant that we had completed this superb mountain hike.

(The bus timetable had said the nr 6 bus to Funchal was due at 16.10 - however it arrived 10 minutes early which could have meant an expensive taxi ride).

Madeira, Funchal, 24 July 2010

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Went by bus 113 to the capital, Funchal and wandered round the city .

Palacio de Sao Lourenco, housing the Military Commander's residence. From time to time there is a changing of the guard.

We visited the colourful Lavradores indoor fish, meat fruit & vegetable market.

There we fell victim to the the hard-sell Maracuja (Passion Fruit) vendors who pressed one to sample a small amount of each variety of maracuja fruit - only after we came to pay for the fruit did we realise they were charging 19 euro /kilogram !

Had a very good but inexpensive lunch at the stylish RISO restaurant perched on the cliff by the fort in the old town.

Madeira Hike, Levada Ribeiro Frio, 23 July 2010,

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Joined Leonard, Carola and Corinne in their hire car for the Levada walk from Ribeiro Frio to Portela. Instead going to Portela, we reversed the route once the trail left the levada to descend to Portela as otherwise we would have needed to take a taxi back to the car. The round trip walk took around 4 1/2 hours.

The levada has been relatively recently renovated with new stainless steel sluice gates to control the water flow in the levada.

The whole walk is along a newly rebuilt concrete conduit - not as picturesque as the older versions but, no, doubt more practical.

Please click below to start video clip.

The last part of the levada trail winds in and out of short tunnel sections cut into the rock.

During the walk, several birds perched quite close to us - these proved to be the colourful Madeira Chaffinch.