A few weeks after my trip to Iceland, another vacation trip was about to start; this time, I expected some higher temperatures. As I already knew the Azores from a trip in 2009, and the Canary Islands from a trip in autumn 2016, there was still Madeira, so: Let's have a look!
Madeira is known for its rugged landscape, for its countless hiking trails that are not quite easy to walk, and for its flowers.
After eight days on the island (again with Sunwave), my summary is ... well, somewhere in the middle. It was fairly good, but this trip will not reach a top 5 rank. Eight days are an appropriate travel time, but I would not go there for two weeks or longer. I know that many people are overwhelmed by this island and praise it to the skies, but my personal favorite is clearly Iceland. I'll tell a bit more at the end of the page.
(And hence you can guess why I did not put too much priority on that report, which was published two years after the trip.)
Our hotel was the Royal Orchid in Caniço de Baixo.
Below you can find the pictures of this trip. I grouped the eight days into four parts to make them easier to browse. Like the other travel reports, you will only get the public pictures unless you have an appropriate login.
Day 1-2: After our day of arrival, we go for our first hiking trail along a levada. These channels are used for spreading the water on the south side of the isle and are typical for Madeira. On the afternoon, we return to our hotel. There is enough time for relaxing, even though the weather is not too inviting.
Day 3: Today we spend the whole day in the capital of the isle, Funchal. We go for a stroll through the parks, have the famous toboggan ride, visit the botanical garden, and the city market. Later we have a Poncha in a local pub.
Day 4-5: On the fourth day we cross the island to its north side. We have a walk through the fog and reach the natural lava swimming pools of Porto Moniz. On the next day, we take another tour along a levada, the Levada do Furado.
Day 6-8: On the eastern part of the island, we take an impressing hiking trail on the Ponta de São Lourenço, approaching the easternmost tip of Madeira. On the following day, we have a spectacular walk to the town of Curral das Freiras (Corral of the Nuns). Finally, on the eighth day, we take our flights back home.
There are some video clips from this trip as well.
Aren't you expected to state that this trip was "the best one" you had for years? - Well, I need to be honest; Madeira was not the overwhelming experience for me. It's OK, I did it, but I don't plan to take another try too soon. Of course, this is just my personal view, and I hope the people of Madeira and the tourism industry are not too upset by my words.
- I think I never saw an island that is so hilly, similarly set up of valleys and mountains, with almost no straight ways. If you are prone to motion sickness in a bus, this may not be a good place for you. Luckily, no one of us got sick during our bus trips.
- It proved almost impossible to go for a relaxing stroll. In our town where our hotel was located, we had this one promenade to walk, and this was done in about half an hour. Of course, you may try to walk somewhere else, but unless you are well trained, you may regret it. Walking to the restaurant meant to climb up some roads and try to get your breath again before the meal was served. Even the road near our hotel was so steep that you got some training when you attempted to walk along.
- Almost no beaches. Well, I am not that fond of beaches with my type 1 skin, but if you wanted to go for swimming you had to walk down some stairs in the hotel, and then climb down a ladder into the sea. We had a beach in Machico - beneath an overcast sky. So what would you do after returning from the bus trip in the afternoon, apart from sitting in the hotel room and waiting for the dinner? Maybe try the hotel spa.
- If you are a hobby photographer like me, you most likely want to shoot some pictures with a wide landscape, with a lot of depth. Well, this is not so easy on Madeira. While I was sitting in the bus I could rarely find some interesting sights: On one side of the bus you see the rock wall. On the other side, you see some trees. Of course, I am glad that the trees have not been cleared, but as I said, there are no good opportunities for photographs, unless you are crossing the plateau in the middle.
- Madeira is often called the "flower island", but I may have missed the good places for that, or maybe the proper time. You can, of course, visit the botanical garden, but you can find those at enough other locations in the world.
- If you have some fear of flying, don't let you be informed that Madeira Airport has one of the most demanding approaches for the pilot due to side winds. Pilots even need a special training to qualify for landing on Madeira.