A walk from the highest peaks of Madeira – Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo (PR1) – is a must-do! This thrilling adventure is included in the recommended routes on the island, and although classified as difficult to perform, it is easy to fall in love with it.
If you catch one of those “WOW” days on the island, you’ll be lucky enough to feel the sensation of being above the clouds. Sometimes the clouds seem to dance around the peaks, leaving the sky uncovered with an intense celestial blue that chases away all stress, an out-of-this-world scenario.
The trail is well signposted and protected throughout the walk, however, we recommend that you go accompanied by a guide. There are some companies such as https://explorenature.pt/walks/ that offer this tour.
If you are in Funchal, the nearest starting point is Pico do Areeiro, where there are parking areas and a café / bar. There is also a small gift shop and toilets. We covered a total of 6.1 km to Pico Ruivo and then 2.5 km to Achadas do Teixeira (PR1.2), where we have access to the road that leads to Santana centre.
Walking time is around 3h30 to 4h in a total of 8.5 km. If you want to do the same route, back to Pico do Areeiro (and not choose to go down to Achadas do Teixeira) you should consider about 7 hours in total. Given the degree of difficulty, it is not recommended for children under 12 years. Altitude requires being careful and fit. There are many climbs, descents, tunnels and steps. The weather changes rapidly and although the hike starts at 1818 meters, you go down at 1491 meters, then climb again at 1862 meters, where you’ll find Madeira’s highest peak, Pico Ruivo. Good footwear, warm clothing, flashlights, water and snacks are required and you should never walk it alone.
The landscape is so beautiful that there are no words to do it justice, #madeiranowordsneeded.
You pass several viewpoints, such as the Ninho da Manta, where you get to see the spectacular central massif of the island, the curious Pico do Gato (cat peak), and Pico das Torres (the second highest peak of the island). On clear days, you can see Curral das Freiras, Ponta de São Lourenço and Porto Moniz.
It is magnificent to see the different rock formations, the different shades of the peaks, the basaltic dykes, the sandy rocks and flowers such as the massaroco (Echium candicans), the Madeiran orchid (Dactylorhiza foliosa) and the Urze da Rocha (Rock Heather).
Concerning birds, it is often possible to see the buzzard (Buteo buteo hartreti) “Manta” (which gave its name to the viewpoint; Ninho da Manta), the Madeiran chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis), the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis) and sometimes the bis bis (Regulus madeirensis), when arriving at Pico Ruivo.
This is also the only identified place for the zino’s petrel nesting (Pterodroma madeira) – one of the world’s rarest seabirds endemic to Madeira. You can see it and hear it at night. If you are interested in watching these birds, there are some local companies such as Birds & Company http://www.birdsandcompany.com that provide this experience.
It’s as magical as the place they chose to nest – somewhere on the Pico do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo trail in Madeira.