A demanding walk along crevices, through tunnels and near shear drops.
|Difficult (lowest 1500M, 4921ft. Highest 1826M, 6109ft).|
|Walking on shingle and paved paths.||3 - 3.5 hours (including breaks).|
|Starting/ End Positions||Distance|
|Pico do Arieiro to Archada do Teixeira.||4 miles (6.4 Kilometres).|
Map Guide: No Ordnance Survey map available for this walk.
Warning! This is quite a difficult walk, and vertigo sufferer's should not attempt. Also if bad weather sets in or you encounter a landslide then please turn back. In the summer months sun block and plenty of liquid to drink will also be required.
Start at either Pico do Arieiro (1818M, 5964ft) (or you may start at Archada do Teixeira). It may be difficult getting to the start so it may be best to hire a car with a small group, take a taxi or there are also good guided tours available. A torch will be required as tunnels will be encountered.
From Arieiro follow the few steps from the building and follow the path. This quickly gets very narrow in between two chasms. You will shortly come across a viewpoint with railings protecting from a steep drop into the valley. Follow the path upwards and approx. 15mins later you reach steps leading to a steep descent. Dramatic scenery can be seen all around here, reminding the walker that this island is volcanic.
The path is fairly straight forward and in 20mins you will reach the first tunnel. This passes through Pico do Gato (Cats peak). Once through keep to the left ( do not go through the gate on the right) and the second tunnel should appear in another 15mins, followed by the next two tunnels.
From here the Pico Grande can be seen if it is not too misty (the clouds can become quite thick here limiting the view). The last tunnel in reached in another 15mins. Do not take the path to the right as this is a derelict trail to Pico das Torres. Carry on walking to the left and you'll eventually see the caves were the men cut into the rock for shelter when making the trails many years ago.
On this side of the valley it is very different to the start of the walk. You will notice lots of heath trees, which are hundreds of years old. Follow the path for 50mins until a crossroad's is reached (you will see a signpost also). Turn left here up to the resthouse (which has running water and toilets!). It will be beneficial to rest here for a while until you start out up the hill to the highest peak of Madeira, Pico Ruivo (1862M, 6109ft).
The trek to the highest peak will be slightly more difficult now as the air is around 15% thinner that at sea level. Magnificent views can be seen from here when the mist blows away. If you are lucky you may even see a brocken spectre (when the sun shines from behind your head and casts a shadow onto the mist below, forming a halo around your head in the shadow). You should also be able to see the resthouse from the peak also, and the way onwards past it to the rest of the walk.
Rest at the peak a while to gain strength for the final trek. Head back down past the resthouse and head eastwards following the paved path towards the next peak. Follow this up and across to the other side. More fine views are to be seen here down to the valley below. You will pass a small stone building here were the locals of Madeira come in the summer to have their picnics. From here you will see running water that is pumped up to the resthouse you just came from.
In 30-40 mins this final paved stretch eventually leads you to Archada do Teixeira (1550M, 5085ft) where the walk ends and you pick up your transport back to Funchal.
Walk first completed: December August 1999
Walk last updated: November 2001