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coastal escape

Walking in Madeira

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8 days
from
$1,049 USD
incl. taxes
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4.4 / 5 from 63 reviews
Walking & Trekking
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Moderate
Activity Rating - Moderate
Trip code: 
TSD
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
16

Explore the verdant landscapes and coastal views of Portugal's largest island

During the course of this week you will have the opportunity to walk through the wild and varied scenery of Madeira, from gentle strolls along flower-lined levadas and spectacular coastal footpaths, to more demanding forays amongst the jagged ridges and peaks of the rugged volcanic interior. There is plenty of time to relax by the sea in the fishing village of Machico and discover the historic importance of Funchal, an old trade centre famous for exporting sugar and wine to the Indies and the New World.

Highlights

  • Superb walking through Madeira's botanical paradise
  • Flower-lined levadas with stunning coastal views
  • Mild year-round climate perfect for walking
  • Picturesque fishing villages and the historic town of Funchal

Key information

  • 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels/pensions, all rooms en suite
  • 5 days point-to-point walking; 1 free day
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 1862m, average 750m
  • Not suitable for vertigo sufferers
  • Transport by private minivan
  • Countries visited: Portugal

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Free arrival & departure transfers 

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) 
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

5

Days of Walking & Trekking
Pace:

Moderate: 5-6km/3-4miles an hour

Terrain:

Low altitude; some rough terrain - good paths with some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 28.0km/4.0miles
Day 312.0km/7.0miles
Day 412.0km/7.0miles
Day 516.0km/9.0miles
Day 612.0km/7.0miles

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

On this trip, we stay in a range of hotels and simple pensions that employs local staff and uses local produce for the meals they provide. Several stops at villages and towns on our route are quite rural and the locals there depend heavily on tourism as a means of income hence, our visit will greatly benefit them. As a walking holiday, we actively encourage clients to interact with the locals, visit local cafes and bars, support local produce and craft and to experience what life is really like in Madeira. Additionally, walking trips like this have very little detrimental impact on the environment and the locals as it is a quiet, low impact activity requiring comparatively little resources to support.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

Machico or Santa Cruz
to
Funchal
  • Day 1

    Start Machico.

    We start at our hotel in Machico which overlooks the beach of Machico Bay and is close to the picturesque historic fishing village.
    *Please note that all groups travelling in January and February 2020 will stay at Santa Cruz Village Hotel.

  • Day 2

    Walk along Ponta de Sao Lourenco, where rocks contrast with the blue of the ocean.

    Today we walk the classic route along the Ponta de Sao Lourenco. Although challenging, this path takes us through some fantastic scenery as we admire wallflowers, stalwarts and many other tiny plants that resist this windy environment and manage to grow in soils with high levels of salinity. Rocks, sculptured by nature, have a great diversity of colours ranging from black to red, and are in stark contrast to the blue of the ocean. Madeira's Nature Park rangers watch over the plants and animals that belong to this eastern extremity of the island, around Casa do Sardinha. We return to Machico for the night.

    Walking time approx 3h30 (Elevation +170m, -270m)

    Total distance approx 8 km
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Spectacular walk along the north coast path to the fishing village of Porto da Cruz.

    This morning we will walk a scenic route along a cliff trail, up to the north coast. We set off along the little Levada do Caniçal, more modest and quieter than yesterday's, then begin a gradual climb up to the crest of the cliffs at Boca do Risco where we enjoy some amazing views along the north coast and may even be able to see the nearby island of Porto Santo. We then head west along the coastal path, a spectacular route in many places cut right into the cliff. We finally descend to the small town of Porto da Cruz, once a bustling port but now a sleepy little town. Later, we transfer to Santana for the night.

    Walking time approx 4h30 (Elevation +200m, –350m)

    Total distance approx 12 km
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Transfer to Queimadas; walk along Levada do Caldeirao Verde to the remote village of Ilha.

    From Santana we take a short transfer (stopping to admire the famous thatched roof houses) to Queimadas natural park where we will walk along the Levada do Caldeirao Verde. We finish this walk at the isolated village of Ilha before returning to Santana for the night.

    Walking time approx 5h (Elevation +90m, –500m)

    Total distance approx 12 km
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Early departure for sunrise at Achada do Teixeira; ascend the island's highest mountain, Pico Ruivo; follow a stone staircase down to Encumeada.

    Today we make the most strenuous walk of the trip. Starting with an early departure to see the sunrise at Achada do Teixeira, we ascend the island's highest mountain, Pico Ruivo (1862m). Our descent follows a spectacular ridge via Torrinhas Pass and over the saddle of Pico do Jorge to Encumeada. As we descend, bees buzz in 'Lily of the Valley' trees and the smell of wild thyme fills the air. After a long day in the hills, we arrive via a long series of stone steps at Encumeada, where we will spend the night.

    Walking time approx 7h30 (Elevation +650m, –1200m)

    Total distance approx 16 km
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 6

    High level walk through beautiful chestnut and eucalyptus woods to Corticeiras; panoramic local bus ride to Funchal.

    We enjoy another fine high-level walk. From Encumeada we walk through woods of chestnut and eucalyptus and then traverse below the rocky escarpment of Pico Grande, enjoying fine views to the south and back to the west. Eventually, we come to a superb viewpoint overlooking the spectacularly situated village of Curral das Freiras and then descend to the village of Corticeiras. We get the bus to Funchal where there will be time for exploration of the town, a visit to the market or shopping if you wish. We overnight in Funchal.

    Total walking time 6h (Elevation +400m, –650m)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Free day to visit the bustling 'Mercado dos Lavradores' (workers' market), Sé Cathedral or for wine tasting in Madeira's Wine Lodge.

    Our last day is free for you to explore Funchal, the Madeira archipelago's capital. The city is easily explored on foot and the must-see sights include the Sé Cathedral which was built between 1493 and 1514, and the magnificent statue of the man who discovered Madeira, Joao Goncalves Zarco, on the Avenida Arriaga.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Funchal.

    The trip ends in Funchal.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

Portugal

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included and usually consist of coffee/tea, fruit juice, rolls or bread, butter and jam, with the addition of cereal or cheese sometimes. Lunch (not included): normally bread or rolls, fresh salad, vegetables, cold meats or tinned fish, cheese and fresh fruit. The ingredients for lunch can often be bought at nearby shops and supermarkets, and prepared before walks. Evening meal (not included): normally a first course of soup or salad, a main course of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice, plus a dessert course. We regularly take our evening meal in our hotel, although there are other options. Madeirans eat a lot of meat and fish with rather plainly cooked vegetables. Vegetarians will normally find they get a balanced diet if they are prepared to be flexible.

Weather

The climate in Madeira is similar to that found around the Mediterranean and is renowned for its year round mildness however there is always the possibility of inclement weather. In May, April, June, October and November, temperatures are pleasant and some rainfall is to be expected. From July to September, daytime is a little warmer and it is typically dry with an average of seven to eight hours of sunshine a day, but the odd shower is still possible. Winter months are generally wetter, particularly at high levels with rain falling between periods of fine, settled weather (so waterproofs are essential). Please note that we may be forced to amend the itinerary depending on local weather conditions.

Is this trip for you?

This trip consists of 5 daywalks and 1 free day. The walks are either fairly easy medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks and reasonable fitness is required. The paths we use are generally flat and well maintained but some of the routes cross rougher terrain with longer ascents and descents. Some of the paths are quite narrow and stony underfoot and require walking in single file. On several occasions where the path becomes narrow and has a steep drop to one side, walkers need a head for heights. Handrails sometimes protect these sections, but we do not recommend this holiday for vertigo sufferers. A few of the levada paths enter short tunnels through the rock but these are easily navigated with the aid of a torch. Should you decide not to walk on certain days, there is the possibility of getting a lift with the support vehicle. Altitude maximum 1,862m; average 750m.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Pensions

Throughout your trek you will stay in good quality hotels and sometimes in standard pensions with en suite facilities.

List of hotels normally used:

Machico: Hotel Dom Pedro. *Please note that all groups travelling in January and February 2020 will stay at Santa Cruz Village Hotel.

Santana: Hotel O Colmo              

Encumeada / Serra de Agua: Estalagem Encumeada  or Pousada dos Vinhaticos 

Funchal:  Hotel do Centro. *Please note that on the 21st December 2019, 9th May 2020 and 19th December 2020 a different end hotel (5-star Quinta da Serra) will be used and this will be located approx. 16km from Funchal. A complimentary transfer to/from Funchal will be offered for those wishing to travel to Funchal for sightseeing.

 

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed June 2019
    Christopher Simpson

    Walking in Madeira

    A week of varied walking and a chance to get away from the crowd. We were impressed by the stunning scenery in challenging terrain and weather conditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk Westward, along the cliffs from Machico to Porto Santo was dramatic without being too scary. The most strenuous day (5) up to Pico Ruivo was spent mostly in clouds/rain, but when the clouds lifted, we had astonishing views down into the valleys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    André Pontes was an excellent guide, with a real passion for the mountains, and great knowledge of the often unique Madieran flora and fauna. He encouraged us through relentless ( unseasonable he said) rain and kept our spirits up. He was a very good judge of the strengths and weaknesses of our group, and offered help when needed, and kept us all safe en route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Conditions change rapidly in the mountains..... Take a range of good ( waterproof ) clothes and sturdy boots.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were not returning to the airport with the rest of the group, but on Monday 17th June at 18:00. You had arranged a taxi transfer for us, which André and the hotel both confirmed, but it failed to turn up at the Windsor Hotel. At all. This induced in us a minor panic. The hotel called a fresh taxi for us (this cost us 30 Euros) and we made it to be the final check-in customers for Easyjet! .........so you may wish to talk to the taxi Co. about this.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Margaret Proud

    Walking week

    Great holiday, good walks

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Great guide who brought the island, walks and its flora alive

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent!!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    S J REYNOLDS

    A very enjoyable trip in Madeira was had by all!

    Just returned from Madeira, whilst the weather was pretty miserable we still had a great time. Andre our guide had to substitute a couple of our walks due to the weather conditions. Very impressed with Madeira and the locals who very helpful, but I would suggest maybe going at a different time of the year, (Not April). Exodus planned everything from we lifted up the phone until we were left back to the airport. The hotels, the pack lunches, the walks, flights etc.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The entire trip. Each day was very different and a great experience. The only downside was the weather. It meant that two days had to be rescheduled, but a great trip none the less.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was good, very approachable and nothing was a problem for him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Following the tips by Exodus and the things which you need to pack to take with you. As you have been given this list for a reason.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Pierre Vinsot

    Best way to discover a beautiful island

    Very well organised trip in a magnificent natural place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking up in the cliffs of the northern coast.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Graham Williams

    A good trip

    An interesting and enjoyable walking tour of Madeira.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Dramatic cliff walks and beautiful levadas.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was excellent. We were all glad that he rearranged the walk on day 5 because of bad weather in the mountains.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I went in March, when the climate was nice for walking but few flowers were out. Apparently late April, May or early June would be better for flowers but not too hot.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The local tap water is good to drink and most of us had refillable water bottles to save unnecessary plastic waste, but both the hotels who supplied packed lunches included TWO plastic bottles per day, with no option to just have the food. The receptionists were not interested in my comments on this but it might help if Exodus had a word with the hotel managers.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Helen Botham

    Fun in Madeira

    Lovely bunch of folks , lots of laughs and good local guide who always made sure we could eat together and knew some great restaurants. He also found us chances to swim in the sea at the end of some walks. Great weather and varied walks amongst the flowers, plants and mountains of subtropical Madeira. Plenty to do in Funchal in our free time, beautiful gardens.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being with such lovely people

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was lovely . He was up for a laugh and happy to answer all questions. He made sure we understood what we were doing with a meeting the previous evening. He was young and fit and had the transport , local buses and minibus , well organised and also knew good bars for an after walk drink and a good variety of excellent restaurants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it. That was my first holiday on travelling on my own and it was excellent. I recommend going from your local airport if you can. I went and returned a day early so that I could fly from Manchester and this fitted in well with the holiday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you Exodus.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    CLIVE Beauvais

    WALKING IN MADEIRA

    THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS WALKING HOLIDAY

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    NO PARTICULAR OUTSTANDING MOMENT

    What did you think of your group leader?

    GROUP LEADER, ANDREAS, WAS EXCELLENT. OBVIOUSLY VERY PROUD OF HIS ISLAND. HE HAS GONE TO A LOT OF TROUBLE TO LEARN AS MUCH POSSIBLE ABOUT FLORA AND FAUNA. HE WAS FUNNY AND ENTERTAINING THROUGHOUT.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I THINK THIS PARTICULAR EXODUS TRIP COULD BE IMPROVED BY REDUCING IT'S LENGTH BY ONE DAY. WALKING SUNDAY TO THURSDAY AND FLYING HOME ON FRIDAY. THE FREE DAY ON FRIDAY WAS SOMETHING OF AN ANTI-CLIMAX, ESPECIALLY AS WE AGAIN HAD TO KILL TIME ON SATURDAY UNTIL THE BUS LEFT EARLY AFTERNOON TO TAKE US TO THE AIRPORT. I APPRECIATE THAT YOU RARELY USE THE HOTEL IN WHICH WE STAYED ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT, BUT, IN MY VIEW, IT WAS UNSUITABLE. IT IS IN A VERY ISOLATED SPOT, WITH NO CAFES, SHOPS, OR RESTAURANTS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE. IT WAS UNFORTUNATE THAT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT HAD SOMETHING OF A NIGHTMARE ON THE THURSDAY EVENING DUE TO BEING EXTREMELY SHORT-STAFFED.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Martha Knight

    Stunning views, wonderful walks, excellent company

    I'm just back from a fabulous week's walking in Madeira. The scenery, weather and company could not have been better. Thank you to Andre, our guide, for helping to make this week so successful. There was lots of laughter along with some strenuous walks set against the majestic background of mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. I highly recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the walks were completely different but the second day's walk was stunning covering both the mountains and the ocean and including the levadas. The drink at the end of the walk was a welcome reward in a bar set next to the ocean. Pretty perfect.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Andre, was great. He was knowledgeable, fun to be with and always seemed to be aware of our safety needs without being intrusive. He clearly loves Madeira and managed to pass in this love to the group. The arrangements went smoothly and all transport and luggage transfers were seamless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Madeira!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the walks was hard because of the climb up the mountain consisting of many flights of steps. Be aware of any personal limitations such as knee problems. The walks are considered of moderate difficulty but that one was tough and many of us felt it had been under graded. The views at the top, however, were worth it!
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Chris Moss

    Madeira walking

    The walks were well planned and we were lucky to have a well rounded and very pleasant group. The first two days were rather "easy" but after that the walking took us further afield and we spent plenty of time off the beaten track in some wonderful landscapes. Overall I think the walking could have been a bit more challenging, overall only just a "moderate" walking grade. The hotels were fairly modest, they were simple, but fine, twice there was no wi fi in the rooms though. Funchal worth a visit in its own right.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The levada's are fascinating as well as unique, the walk along the Levada do Caldeirao Verde was really memorable and it was a glorious day. The early rise for sun rise on Pico Ruivo and the walk to the summit and back down into the Nuns Valley to the hotel was the longest day and the best and the hotel has a stunning location - a really memorable "five star" day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was very on top of his job, he planned and explained well and was always pleasant company with a well rounded knowledge of the island although perhaps with a bias towards flora and fauna, I'm not sure I picked up much about contemporary social and economic life on the island.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Robert Rutter

    Walking in Madeira

    Holiday was very good once in Madeira. Booking and office support from Exodus UK was poor. We paid a surcharge of over £300 pounds to get flights six months prior to departure. There were people in our group who arrived later in the day that didn't pay any surcharges. We could have got a later flight also.... No one has come back to me about this after my first survey. Also, Exodus don't have enough staff in the London office to even answer your phones. Dreadfull in light of the money we your customer pay. SORT IT OUT. That was my fourth holiday with Exodus, I doubt personally that I will book another in light of the London office. It's a shame you let all of your reps that are actually in front of your customers down. Learn the lesson. Rob Rutter

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't book via Exodus

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Rob for taking the time to provide us with feedback both on his holiday evaluation form (HEF) and in his review. Whilst HEFs are read by 2 members of staff, we endeavour to make it clear both in the email we send inviting clients to complete their HEFs, as well as at the end of the survey itself that due to the volume of feedback we receive, we are unable to respond on an individual basis to the comments our clients make. We do, as a result of this, provide an email address which clients are welcome to use if they would like to raise any specific concerns to our customer services team. We would like to apologise if this could be further clarified. Flight prices can vary quite significantly throughout the year and even when flights are booked early, sometimes a supplement can be applicable, as explained in our trip notes. We were pleased Rob enjoyed his time in Madeira, but we are nonetheless very sorry that he was disappointed with the support he received from Exodus prior to travel.  –  Marta Marinelli, Product Manager.

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