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 to 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.


 

 

 


 

 

 




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.

Madeira Island hiking was an amazing experience

5

This trip to Madeira Island was truly a bucket list experience. The Island is beautiful. We saw every shade of bougainvillea imaginable, flowers in every yard, an ocean so blue it seemed painted, and trails that almost defy description. At one point I wondered if we would meet the Jurassic Park dinosaurs or King Kong. The trails were often very steep, there were stairs and hand rails where we needed them. There were several challenging tunnels which added to the adventure. The directions were great, and when we somehow lost our way, there were friendly people willing to help. The rooms started simple, but the last hotel was luxurious. Everywhere we went people were helpful, spoke English, and laughed with us. And I must mention, the local wines were a treat. I will use Macs Adventure for my next trip!

Turquoise Gypsy

Denver

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Yes

5

Madeira is a beautiful island full of contrasts. The support we had from Nubelia in the Madeira office and the drivers was excellent. I had a sore knee and was unable to do two of the walks Nubelia immediately organised for me to get transported through with the wonderful driver who picked up the luggage. The walks have a lot of very long, steep downhills which put a lot of pressure on your knee. Nevertheless, I loved the trip, and the variety that everyday brought.

Killer Knees

Melbourne

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Varied walking and excellent logistics

5

The first two days of walking include dramatic coastal scenery. The next few highlight both the laurel forests and high mountain terrain. The last is through an agricultural landscape. It was this variety that made the holiday so very interesting and the flora and how it changes are fascinating. All taxi transfers were bang on time and drivers friendly and helpful. Hotels are clean and comfortable and the food tasty and filling. The slight caveat is that I would not have the "included" meal at the hotel in Machico - there are better options elsewhere in the town or pay to access the full menu. Finally, when I left my phone in the restauarant on our last night - Nubelia was really helpful - collecting it for me and mailing it back to the UK.

Sarah

Cheshire

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Excellent walking itinerary in Madeira

5

Would definitely recommend MacsAdventures to anyone who enjoys self-guided walking holidays. Very well organised. Just the right amount of information and advice. Will use MA again if going on another walking holiday.

Caroline

Surrey, UK

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Unique hiking experience

5

The communication with the local travel partner was friendly and efficient. The hikes we're challenging at times in part due to weather. Accommodations were varied but comfortable. Enjoyed the experience of hiking along levadas and coastal cliff paths. Would highly recommend this trip!

Anne

Toronti

Fantastic walks in a beautiful setting

4

Beautiful, varied walks. Some quite challenging. Easy to get around this small island. Good accommodations and food. We were a bit unlucky with the weather but still a lovely holiday.

JoPo

Newcastle

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A great easy walking holiday

4

Easy set of walks mainly along Levadas. Transport between hotels was first rate. Accommodation was good standard. Meals were mixed quality possibly because we were there at quietest time of the year. We had good wether every day bar one which was the day with potentially the best views but still had a good walk.

Hugh

London

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Walking in November

5

Very well organised on the ground..... Taxis and hotels. Excellent support from Hamish before we went and route notes and maps good. More advice and support to clients is required after heavy rain. One of the wooden bridges was washed away and we had to turn back and one of the long tunnels partially flooded and we were walking along calf deep in water in the tunnel. on the route notes instead of direction arrows compass directions would be preferable.

Helen

Mansfield

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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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Madeira: The Flower Island

4.8 29

96.4

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