Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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The flower-filled island of Madeira
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Highlights

  • Madeira, a lush green island, with its bounty of colourful flora and fauna.
  • Swimming in the natural pools formed by lava in Porto da Cruz.
  • Exploring Funchal’s cobbled streets and browsing the flower market.
  • Following the network of 'Levadas' - ingenious irrigation channels of Madeira.
  • Admiring the vibrant orchids, birds of paradise, magnolias and azaleas.

The flower-filled island of Madeira is full of contrasts; the colonial charm of the towns and villages, the rugged and dramatic coastal scenery, the explosion of colours of the local flora and fauna, its lush green interior and the levadas, the traditional irrigation channels which form a network of paths across this sub-tropical island.

This enchanting botanical paradise still has a sleepy charm which makes it a unique place to visit. The walks lead you through the High Plateau, giving you sweeping views over verdant valleys and on trails where the deep purples and enchanting scents of hydrangea and agapanthus lead you towards the coast.

Day 1: Arrive Funchal and overnight

Upon arrival, you will be picked up for your very short transfer to Machico which is located on the east coast of the island. Machico is a tranquil and historical town where the people who discovered Madeira first landed.  With its ancient forts, beautiful beach and whitewashed houses, it is an idyllic retreat from which to start your trip.  


The community thrives on fishing and agriculture, so you can be sure of some delicious fresh produce when you dine out in one of the excellent restaurants at night.  


Overnight: Residencial Amparo, Machico


This small family-run guesthouse is located in the centre of Machico. A tasteful blue and white décor runs throughout, including the restaurant with its open-air terrace—the perfect place for a cocktail!


Day 2: San Lourenco Peninsula

Today’s walk takes in the beautiful Sao Lourenco Peninsula, a dry and sunny corner of Madeira which contrasts with the lushness of the rest of the island. Take the bus (payable locally) to Canical where you will begin the walk. Today is a fantastic introduction to Madeira with stunning seascapes and views to the north and south, including the Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands).


This is also a great place for bird watching, as many species pass through on their migratory routes. Return to Machico by bus at the end of a rewarding day.


Walk:  7.5 km


Dinner & Overnight:  Residencial Amparo, Machico


Day 3: Levada do Canical to Porto da Cruz

After breakfast you can either take the bus to the Levada Canical (payable locally) or you can walk to the beginning of the levada if you wish. There is also the opportunity to take an extra walk beforehand up the Pico Grande which has incredible views over Machico. Follow the levada along the wild, rugged northern coast to Porto da Cruz, a relaxed and charming village that produces an excellent dry red wine ‘Seco Americano’.  


At the end of the walk a taxi transfer is arranged to take you to Santana, a lovely village, characterised by its small thatched triangular houses, called "palheiros".


Walk: 15.75 km


Dinner & Overnight:  Hotel O’Colmo, Santana


This hotel, located in the heart of Santana, offers a warm ambience and excellent facilities, including a restaurant serving traditional fare, a jacuzzi, solarium, Turkish bath and piano bar.


Day 4: Levada do Caldeirao Verde

After breakfast a private transfer brings you to Pico das Pedras, from where you embark on your enchanting walk following trails through the lush emerald green paradise of Madeira's interior. Then arrive at the "Green Cauldron" which is split by a dramatic waterfall. Upon reaching Ilha you meet your taxi transfer back to your hotel in Santana where you can look forward to a relaxing evening.


Walk: 17 km


Dinner & Overnight: Hotel O’Colmo, Santana


Day 5: Paul da Serra—Levada do Norte-Encumeada

Begin with a private transfer to Bica da Cana, leaving behind Santana and its fairytale cottages for the desert plateau of Paul da Serra, in the centre of the island. Whilst walking on the Levada do Norte you can enjoy impressive views over the Sao Vicente Valley, walking past cultivated terraces.


Don't forget to bring your head torch today as you have negotiate your way through numerous tunnels to reach the Encumeada pass. It is here that you will find the Hotel Encumeada nestled on the slopes of the Ribeira Brava Valley.    


Walk: 11.5 km


Dinner & Overnight: Hotel Encumeada, Encumeada


From this hotel the views from your balcony over the dramatic mountain scenery are second to none. The rooms are rustically decorated, yet comfortable and the restaurant serves delicious traditional cuisine, such as roast suckling pig, accompanied by sweet potatoes, rice and fresh salads.


Day 6: Faja Escura Walk

From the Residencial Encumeada, a short steep climb leads you to the first track of the day which is gently undulatinideg. This walk crosses beneath the Pico Grande and through a valley, which, until the 1950's was completely isolated. Eventually the path descends rapidly in a series of hair pin bends and ending in the hamlet of Faja Escura. From here a taxi transfer takes you to your accommodation in Funchal.


Walk: 13.9 km


Overnight:  Quinta Penha Franca, Funchal


This very charming Quinta Penha Franca was built over 150 years ago and was originally the farmhouse of a residential estate. Relax in the beautiful gardens or on the terrace and take in the harbour views. The Quinta has been extended over the years, and now boasts a heated seawater swimming pool, a restaurant and a cocktail and piano bar.


Day 7: Boa Morte to Cabo Girao and Camara do Lobos

A transfer brings you to the edge of the village of Boa Morte, where you once again join the Levada do Norte as it winds its way through eucalyptus, sweet chestnut and pine trees, above the cultivated fields of the alluvial plain. The sights and sounds of village life greet you from below as you pass high above the villages of Corugeria, Campanario and Quinto Grande.


Finally, after traversing a short tunnel, you work your way up to Cabo Girao with its spectacular cliffs and after taking in the views, you have the option of continuing down the steep valley sides to the quaint fishing village of Camara do Lobos, where you can enjoy a beer or a coffee in one of the many harbour side cafes, before catching a bus back to Funchal.


Walk: 16km,


Overnight: Quinta Penha Franca, Funchal


Day 8: Onward Travel

An included transfer to Funchal Airport is included today and from here you can take your onward flights.


Accommodation

The accommodation on this walk is a combination of 3* and 4* hotels and small guesthouses. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and an authentic experience.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the remoteness and nature of the terrain. Single rooms are available and a single supplement is payable.



 

 

 



Residencial Amparo - Machico



Residencial Amparo - Machico

This small family-run guesthouse is located in the centre of Machico. A tasteful blue and white décor runs throughout, including the restaurant with its open-air terrace—the perfect place for a cocktail!


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel O'Colmio - Santana

This hotel, located in the heart of Santana, offers a warm ambience and excellent facilities, including a restaurant serving traditional fare, a jacuzzi, solarium, turkish bath and piano bar.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Encumeada - Encumeada

From this hotel the views from your balcony over the dramatic mountain scenery are second to none. The rooms are rustically decorated, yet comfortable and the restaurant serves delicious traditional cuisine, such as roast suckling accompanied by sweet potatoes, rice and fresh salads.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Quinta Penha Franca - Funchal

This very charming Quinta Penha Franca was built over 150 years ago and was originally the farmhouse of a residential estate. Relax in the beautiful gardens or on the terrace and take in the harbour views. The Quinta has been extended over the years, and now boasts a heated seawater swimming pool, a restaurant and a cocktail and piano bar.


 

 

 

Availability

This tour is available to start any day of the week all year round (subject to availability). Whilst the weather is cooler in the winter months and there is a risk of rain, it is still warm enough to walk.


Grade & Terrain

This walking tour is graded moderate. On most days there are quite significant elevation gains and losses (anything up to 700m elevation gain and 900m elevation loss, but on most days it is not as significant as this - please see your route notes for specifics). There are alternate walking choices on some days. Please check your route notes for this information. It is essential that you try some walking with some ups and downs for a few weeks before your departure so you can make the most of this tour and feel comfortable while you are walking.


The walks are predominantly along levadas, but there are also stony paths, paths cut into cliffs and through forests and along cliff tops. Many of the paths have steep drops alongside, without any walls or barriers, and so this tour is not recommended for anyone who suffers from vertigo. Walking poles are highly recommended.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Some of the walks on this trip are way-marked but many are not and you will need to follow the route notes and maps supplied.


Please note that due to the nature of Madeira and its fragile terrain, it is not uncommon for the paths and therefore walks to change at late notice; this is due to rainfall, potential landslides and other weather conditions.  If an alternate walk needs to be taken our local partners in Madeira will be in touch with you.  It is therefore recommended that you keep a flexible attitude and are prepared to alter your plans.


Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred between your accommodation as per your itinerary. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.


Meals

7 Breakfasts are provided and dinners on Days 2, 3, 4,and 5. On some days you will be able to buy supplies for a picnic at local shops, but on the days when this is not possible you can ask your accommodation to make one for you. Please request this on the previous evening (payable locally).  On the evenings when dinner is not included, you can eat in your hotel restaurant or at a local restaurant.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sunhat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includeds standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a daypack.


Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.

Getting to Madeira

By Air—Madeira—Funchal Airport is the only international airport and can be reached directly from Bristol, Manchester and London in the UK. The flight time from London is approximately 3H45.  You will be transferred to your first and last hotel to and from Funchal Airport.


Other international flights connect to Madeira (Funchal) via Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, where it is possible to add an overnight stay as necessary; please contact our team if you would like to arrange this.

Included

  • 7 Nights in 3* and 4* hotels & guesthouses
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 4 Dinners
  • Baggage Transfers
  • Transfers to and from Funchal Airport
  • Transfer to and from the walks as described in the itinerary
  • Detailed route notes and information pack and a 1:40,000 map
  • 24/7 support from our local partner and the UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to and from Funchal
  • Lunches
  • 4 Dinners
  • Local buses where necessary
  • Drinks and Snacks
  • Personal equipment
  • Mountain rescue/emergency assistance

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Additional nights

How fit do I need to be?

This walking tour is graded moderate. On most days there are quite significant elevation gains and losses (anything up to 700m elevation gain and 900m elevation loss, but on most days it is not as significant as this - please see your route notes for specifics). There are alternate walking choices on some days. Please check your route notes for this information. It is essential that you try some walking with some ups and downs for a few weeks before your departure so you can make the most of this tour and feel comfortable while you are walking.

When is the best time of year?

Spring and Autumn tend to be the best times of year as these are when the migratory birds can be seen in the area, sometimes in abundance. April - June and late September - December are the best. The weather during the summer months is usually considerably hotter than at other times during the year. Wet weather can affect paths and lead to necessary changes to the walks, and our colleagues in Madeira will update you so that you make the best of your time on the island.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this area is extremely popular. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans so just ask. During peak times, such as the flower festival, it may be necessary to accommodate you in alternative hotels and guesthouses; these will be of at least the same or greater standard than those highlighted.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a day pack and hats/gloves etc.

Which is the best airport?

By Air: Funchal airport is the only international airport and can be reached directly from Bristol, Manchester and London in the UK. Flight time from London is approximately 3hrs 45 mins.

Other international flights connect to Madeira (Funchal) via Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, where it is possible to add an overnight stay as necessary; please contact our team to arrange.

Enchanted Island

5

It remains a mystery to me why Madeira remains so undiscovered by Americans. The island is magical, with an extraordinary abundance of flora, delightful towns and villages, a wide variety of stunning trails (including along myriad cliffsides, in the middle of jungle terrain, along a semi-arid tail-peninsula, through haunting forests and charming villages) and unique challenges galore (such as balancing on narrow levada-channels, navigating lengthy dark tunnels, hopscotching through waterfalls). The accommodations put you close to the trailheads, and that geographic convenience trumps creature conveniences, but all were comfy enough and the food plentiful if not dazzling. The on-the-ground support provided by Nubelia was outstandingly responsive, with her recalibrating timetables to adjust to our pace and supplying advice on a number of issues. A word to the wise. At a bar at one trail's end, the social center of a small village, one of our number left her phone in the washroom by accident. In the two minutes it took her to realize she had left it, the phone had been purloined by someone else. A search of the bar and village yielded no sign of it. Even in a locale as picturesque and charming as Madeira, you have to be vigilant with your possessions.

Tom

Chicago

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OK, but not great

3

Slow response from mac's adventure team setting up holiday. Overall, accommodations ranged from a C grade to an A grade so definitely a mixed bag there. Of the 6 hikes we rated 3 to be a B- or worse so some real room for improvement in that department as well. We would have liked a couple hikes a little more off the beaten path. The northwest part of the island looked like fun but we were not sent there. The half board option was particularly bad at Hotel Villa Bela in Porto Da Cruz and should be avoided. High praise for the support team at Madeira Active Holidays while on the island. They were by far the best!

Yo HT3

Philadelphia Pa. USA

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We will definitely book again

5

This holiday surpassed expectations, lots of interesting and varied walks covering o lot of the island

Intrepid Mouse

Sheffield(peak district)

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Great week walking in Madeira

5

We had a great holiday in Madeira. It was our first time there and we found the walks to be superb! There are lots of different types of walks, along high sea cliffs, through stunning mountain scenery, and along the fascinating levadas which are irrigation channels networked all around the island. Lots of the walks started high and finished low so there was plenty of level walking and descending without too much ascent, which was just as well because the terrain can be steep. A good head for heights is needed in some places along the walks but there is nothing too terrifying! The accommodation and transport arrangements were excellent and we enjoyed the local food. All in all, Madeira comes highly recommended for a great walking adventure.

Dakota1

Dublin

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This is a fantastic trip

5

This is a fantastic trip and a unique walking experience. All of the walks chosen by MacsAdventure are really beautiful and thrilling. You definitely need some head for heights. From start to finish it is very well organized. It's worth particularly mentioning Paul and his team of lovely taxi drivers, who picked us up promptly every morning and were always waiting for us at the end of each walk. A fantastic service. Each of the hotels were comfortable, particularly the last Hotel, The Quinta de Penha de França in Funchal.

TripScout60

Dublin

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Wonderful scenery and varied walks

5

Lovely week to celebrate my mother's 70th birthday. Great walks and super varied terrain every day.

Jackie T

Cheshire

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Great walking in a stunning location

5

We loved this holiday! It's our second with Macs and we are as impressed as we were last time. The organisation was faultless and everything ran like clockwork; our queries prior to the trip were handled well and quickly - the service feels very personal. We enjoyed all the hotels and particularly the Quinta da Penha Franca at the end, which is like a separate little world in the centre of Funchal, and has a fabulous swimming pool overlooking the sea. The walking is very varied - a mix of very gentle gradients on the levadas and some steep downhill sections. Slightly less uphill walking as some height is gained using taxis! We had dry weather throughout (August); some of the sections would have needed a lot of care in the wet. Walking poles are essential and generally, you need to watch your feet and stop if you want to look round! I was a bit apprehensive about the possibility of sheer drops alongside the paths, but once there never felt concerned - and there are guard rails on lots of sections. Walk directions are good and the map and guide book provided by Macs are also very useful. The taxi drivers were all very pleasant and punctual and the drive from Santana to Bica da Canha in particular is stunning - our lovely driver that day told us lots about life in Madeira and stopped at a viewpoint for us to take photos. We booked an extra night in Santana so we had a break in the middle - we took the bus to Faial where we had lunch on a terrace with a great view, than went down to the sea to swim. We loved being able to swim in the sea most days; beaches / lido complexes are very well run (1 or 2 Euros entrance fee), clean and supervised by lifeguards. We also booked an extra few nights in Funchal at the end of the trip - it's a lovely city with plenty to see. Local bus services are good and inexpensive so it's easy to get around (though not necessarily fast - the terrain means there are some very winding roads!). Now looking for next year's trip with Macs!

C&C from Warwickshire

Warwickshire

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Highly Recommended

5

Macs staff could not be more helpful

TR

St Albans

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A great holiday on an amazing island.

5

The taxis were excellent. The drivers were always on time and very helpful. To end a day's walking in the hills to find a taxi waiting patiently to return home was pure bliss. The taxis really opened up the range of walks which could end in tiny villages without the worry of how to get back to the hotel. The hotels were very good - comfortable, welcoming and serving good food. We had the good fortune to stay in Encumeada on Valentine's Day and the evening meal was incredible. As was the rose presented to my wife and the photo given to us. The local agent, Nubelia, was fantastic. When the weather turned against us she rapidly reorganised the walks and taxis resulting in us making the most of our time on Madeira.

Gulliver Travels

Chorley

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Good November walking if prepared for mixed weather

4

Beautiful lush island. Just be prepared for mixed weather. We had stormy weather and snow up in the hills and one of the tunnels was flooded. The local agent contacted us to alter one day's walking which was helpful and gave us a free day in Funchal. And the sun shone at last!

Helen

Leeds, West Yorkshire

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Madeira: The Flower Island

4.8 21

95.2

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