19 July 2014

Top of Madeira

During June I visited Madeira Island for one week. I really enjoyed this place! Great scenery and nature, impressive mountains and nice not too hot weather. Of course, I took my running equipment with me and didn't wait for too long before heading to the mountains.

Here is the impressive mountain route I ran on my second day on the island. The route was suggested to me by a guide in a bike rental shop. Indeed, it is a very nice route, passing through really impressive mountain landscape, reaching the highest peak on the Island, Pico Ruivo (1,862m).

The route has two sections. Fist section starts from Encumeada mountain pass at about 1000m altitude and ends on Pico Ruivo. It starts ascending through the lush forest then follows an impressive mountain ridge. As it was quite early in the morning I did not meet anybody on this section of the trail.  I could tell that not too many hike along this route, because there were plenty of tasty wild strawberries along the trail.
Stairs on the way above Encumeada
Above the clouds
On the way from Encumeada to Pico Ruivo
On the ascent to Pico Ruivo
On Pico Ruivo
The second half of the route is the most popular hiking route in Madeira. It links Pico Ruivo (the highest) and  Pico do Arieiro (1818m), the 3rd highest on the island. The route is impressive, carved on the almost vertical sides of the mountains and has many sections with stairs. The route passes several times through tunnels beneath the mountain ridge.
I was lucky with the weather as the clouds were low during my hike. I started in thick fog, but soon I was above the clouds in the sunshine. The subtropical mountain sun can be quite powerful., but luckily, long stretches of the trail were protected by the shadow of the mountain peaks.
On the spectacular trail from Pico Ruivo to Pico do Arieiro
Tunnel shortcut...
Steep Stairs
With Pico do Arieiro in sight 
From Pico do Arieiro,, there are several options to get down to Funchal, the main city on the island. The peak can also be reached by car on a modern paved road. I ran all the way down the mountain on steep roads., often, as most roads in Madeira, too steep for running. I got lost in the thick fog that was covering the lower slopes of the mountain so I cut out this section from the track above. Nevertheless, all downhill roads lead to Funchal...

This was my mountain running adventure in Madeira. I highly recommend this route to experienced trail runners and hikers. However, before leaving check the weather report and check that the trails are open. Also make sure that you have good equipment, especially good running/hiking shoes and a rain coat, as the weather can change quickly on the mountains.

Down in Funchal I ran almost daily on the beautiful seaside promenade from Funchal Lido to Câmara De Lobos village. A great route for morning runs. One day I ventured further and ran all the way up to Cabo Girão, an impressive almost vertical cliff that rises 600m above the sea. The way up was hard, but the downhill on the extreme steep streets of Madeira was even harder!

The complete album of my Madeira photos can be found here.

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