Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours


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The flower-filled island of Madeira
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Highlights

  • Experiencing Madeira, a lush green island, with a bounty of colorful flora and fauna.
  • Swimming in the natural pools formed by lava in Porto da Cruz.
  • Exploring Funchal’s cobbled streets and exploring 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 colors 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
  • 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.

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