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Madeira Island: Experience Nature Vacations of breathtaking beauty.

Are you planning your next escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life? If you enjoy outdoor sites of natural beauty consider visiting Madeira Island on your next vacation. It has much to offer a visitor hoping to “get away from it all”.

Madeira Island is 500 km from the African coast and 998 km from the European Continent, just a 1 hour 30 minutes flight from Lisbon. Because of its privileged geographical position and mountainous relief, Madeira Island has a temperate climate, with very mild average temperatures (in both summer and winter), and a moderate level of humidity.

There are many sites of great natural beauty to visit on the Island but two of these are mandatory visits for the nature lover: the Grutas (Caves) of São Vicente and Pico Ruivo (Red Peak).

In São Vicente you can visit both the Caves and the Volcanism Centre. The Volcanism Centre seeks to spread technical and scientific information so that your visit to the Caves will be more rewarding. The Volcanism Centre fuses culture and knowledge with leisure and entertainment. 90 visitors at a time watch audiovisual shows that recreate the geological evolution of the Caves, the eruption of a volcano and a simulation of the birth of the Archipelago. This Centre complements your visit to the Caves, using them as an example of the geological formation of Madeira Island.

The Caves of São Vicente were formed by a volcanic eruption 890 thousand years ago at Paúl da Serra. As the lava descended to the sea, the outer portion was exposed to lower temperatures and solidified rapidly. The inner portion of the lava continued to flow. The many interior gases created a series of lava tubes that form the caves of São Vicente. The same Caves which you will walk through on your visit. This set of eight “volcanic tunnels” extends for more than 1000 meters, with maximum heights varying between 5 and 6 meters. It is the largest known cave system on Madeira Island.

Pico Ruivo (Red Peak)

This Walk is probably the best known high level route on Madeira Island and consequently one of the most popular. The walk to the top offers stunning views of landscape, as well as views of a variety of flora and fauna. This explains its popularity. The whole route is of moderate difficulty, well marked and in good condition. Route finding is not a problem.

Levada Walks

Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and go for a walk along the famous water canals known as “Levadas”, used for irrigation in olden times, The most popular such treks are the Rabaçal levada walk, towards the 25 Fountains; the Queimadas levada walk, until Caldeirão Verde; the walk between the Areeiro Peak and the Ruivo Peak; and the walk from Ribeiro Frio to Portela. A special footpath has also been thought out for persons with limited mobility. This path, between the Pedras Peak and Queimadas, is equally stunning, despite its ease.

Remember of course that for your own safety you should heed the following:

  • Before starting out make sure you have updated route instructions
  • Let someone else know where you’re going and when you expect to return
  • Be sure to confirm the time it will take so that you can finish before nightfall
  • Take some extra food and water with you
  • Wear suitable clothes and shoes
  • If possible take a mobile phone with you
  • Don’t take risks
  • Memorize the following contacts:

Emergency number: 112 and

Civil Protection: 291 700 112

Join me next week for further suggestions about what to visit on Madeira Island. See you soon!

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