Levadas of Madeira: Central mountainous massif
The mother of all walks, a paradise for hiking lovers, demanding, with steep slopes but with views and rock formations that compensate for any physical effort. These are the main characteristics of this important path that joins the highest peaks of the island Pico Areeiro to Pico Ruivo and that in turn offers multiple connections and alternatives to travel, always in the middle of an ancestral flora unique to the Island of Madeira and always accompanied by friendly endogenous birds.
Sunrise on Areeiro Peak
It’s here, at Pico Areeiro, at an altitude of 1818, and still in the darkness of the night, where our adventure begins with one of the best places to appreciate this beautiful show of colors that nature offers us. To get to the Pico you need a private vehicle or rent a car since there are no public facilities for this place. It is essential to be well wrapped even with gloves especially if you go on a motorcycle even in the summer, for more heat and sun that sits at sea level, the height marks the significant temperature difference. With luck on the road you can find a lot of rabbits, like a plague in the middle of the road.
Ninho da Manta
Although quite crowded, especially by young people waiting in groups at sunrise, in my opinion is not the peak itself the best place to see it. So we started our first trip to the Ninho da Manta viewpoint. You have to pay close attention to this section of just 8 minutes, in some cases unprotected and often whipped by gusts of wind that complicate the stability of the walker. This place is said to nest a bird of prey known as Manta and is where we will take a small breakfast while the sun welcomes us, opening before our eyes the curtain of darkness and show us a steep valley with spectacular rock formations with the islands of Porto Santo in the background, in the middle of the ocean.
Unforgettable steel stairs
From here to the front, begins a succession of narrow steps with steep climbs and descents finding some tunnels thus crossing the heart of the mountain massif of the island. Almost all the way is in good condition protected by steel cables “removes fear” in some cases on both sides of the road and that protect us from an imminent fall to the abyss. The old road that climbed the peak of the tower is temporarily closed by a landslide so the signs indicate continuing to the left where you climb a series of unforgettable steel stairs.
Shelter house of Pico Ruivo
At the top of these stairs we stop to contemplate the landscape, take pictures and of course we also recover the air. The road becomes warmer and facing the sun in the middle of a forest that seems petrified in time. Another climb is surpassed and once reached the shelter of the Pico Ruivo, we take the opportunity to recharge water. It should be noted that this is the only water point of the entire trip.
Pico Ruivo and alternatives
Finally we start the final stretch to Pico Ruivo, a steep climb to the highest point of the Island of Madeira with 1,862 meters above sea level and the third highest point in Portugal. From here, with luck, on a day of good visibility you can see a fantastic view of the whole island and its formation. Here we have multiple alternatives and variants to continue our journey: to return the 7 km to Pico Areeiro along the same path; take east 2.8 km to Achada do Teixeira where a taxi can take you to Santana; take the 11.2 km of road less traveled to Encumeada where approximately 7 km in the Boca das Torrinhas offers another variant to descend to the valley of Curral das Freiras.
Wear boot-type shoes that offer extra protection on the ankle, with a good grip sole and quite comfortable. Use a system of layers of clothing consisting of a first that allows transpiration away from the body, a second coat and finally a short windproof in case of rain. Trekking sticks. Headlamp; It is common to find walkers using the flashlights of their cell phones and they perfectly cover these needs, however in this pronounced way, of so many kilometers it is better to always keep all our belongings protected. Remember that the minimum tripping can mean losing not only the flashlight but also have to say goodbye to the phone.
Much of the way there is a cell phone signal, I insist that you will not get water, only in the shelter of Pico Ruivo, not even in Areeiro Peak, and you will need at least one liter per person or more. Sunscreen and eager to venture. For more information, do not hesitate to contact me and enjoy this demanding path.