A toboggan ride in Madeira’s wicker sledges (Monte Baskets Cars) is an incredible experience. This attraction is in Funchal (Monte), and is unique in the World!
What are the Monte Toboggan Rides or “carros de cesto” ?
They consist of a kind of car without wheels, made of wood and wicker. It slide (sledge type) through the picturesque and steep streets of the city, for 2 km. It’s about a 10-minute ride that you will never forget … a different, fun and exclusive experience.
How did the Monte Toboggan Rides were invented in Madeira?
They appeared in the middle of the 19th century as an alternative and fast means of transportation of people and goods, from Monte to Funchal. It is believed that the wealthy owners of some Quintas (local Manor Houses) in Monte were the first to use this form of transport. With the growth of tourism at the end of the 19th century, these wicker basket cars became very popular among visitors. Today it is one of the highlights in Madeira.
How are Wicker Toboggans made?
The toboggans are manufactured manually locally, in Monte. They are made of eucalyptus wood, coming from Santo da Serra, and wicker from the Curral das Freiras. Once the frame is fitted, the passenger seat is upholstered to provide more comfort. The car is then placed on two “malhares” wooden slats, greased with tallow to slide more easily on the road. To assist in driving, two holes are made at the ends of the “malhares”, also called muzzles “focinhos”, where strings are inserted (a rope at each “muzzle”). There are currently 100 active Basket Cars.
Who are the Carreiros do Monte?
The “Carreiros do Monte” are responsible for maintaining and preserving this secular tradition. Currently, there are 150 Carreiros do Monte, the basket car drivers. Each of them is assigned a fixed number, which dictates the order in which they drive the car. For example; if on a given day, the last journey was made by the number 37, the next day, it begins with the number 38 and so on. The “driving art” of the basket cars is transmitted between drivers and apprentices – for example, if the number x driver decides to retire, he teaches the future driver (which will have his number) the skills of driving this basket car.
They drive the basket cars in pairs, wearing white trousers and a white shirt (where their number is visible). They also wear a typical straw hat with a black ribbon. The traditional boots are original from Câmara de Lobos. They are essential in this type of driving because they have rubber tire soles to aid in braking.
At what speed do the basket cars go down and which way is the ride?
It begins next to the Church of the Monte (in the Caminho do Monte nº 4) and ends in the Estrada of the Livramento (in the Caminho do Monte nº 82/84). Depending on the weather conditions, the speed of the tour varies between 15 km and 38 km.
At the terminal station, there are several transportation options to go to the centre of Funchal, to your hotel or to another locality of the island. You can take a taxi, bus no. 19 (from Horários do Funchal Company) or even touristic buses. If you want to walk to the centre of Funchal or back to the Church of Monte, the journey takes about 30 minutes.
How much is a ride?
This experience costs € 25 for 1 person, € 30 for 2 people, or € 45 for 3 people. The opening hours * are Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Walking in the basket cars of Monte is undoubtedly something that cannot be missed in Madeira. You either try it here during your holidays on the island or you will miss this experience as you will not find it anywhere else in the world! Help us to preserve this tradition and have fun!
* Know more at http://www.carreirosdomonte.com/v2/en/aboutus.php