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Madeira long-distance hike: 105km Island Crossing

Madeira is an Eldorado for hiking. An evergreen dream of absolute beauty. Experience the most impressive views of Madeira on this long-distance hiking trail and marvel at the mystical and misty landscape in the midst of pure nature. I found the tour magnificent. Chapeau!

Madeira Hiking

Content

1. Journey

2. Route

3. Accommodation

4. Weather and best time to travel

5. Further information

6. Recommended stages

7. Packing list

8. GPX and map information

9. Conclusion


Introduction: Are you perhaps just starting your annual holiday planning? Then this is the opportunity for one of the most beautiful long-distance hikes in Africa. The archipelago of Madeira is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, located about 600 km off the north-west coast of Africa and 1000 km south-west of Lisbon. It is a colourful all-rounder for botanists, hikers and pleasure-seekers. The rugged volcanic landscape is criss-crossed by levadas, old irrigation channels with footpaths that are now used as hiking trails. The high mountains, narrow valleys and steeply sloping coasts of Madeira form a wonderful backdrop for extensive hikes.

madeira long distance hiking

Journey

Flight: The best option is to take a flight to Funchal, to Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (FNC).

Taxi: You can take a taxi directly from the airport to the starting point, the small roundabout in Ponta de Sao Lourenco (Baia dÀbra). The journey with a Bold taxi cost around 15 euros.

Bus: There is also a bus from the airport to Canical. You then have to walk about 15-20 minutes to the roundabout.

Footpath: You can also walk to the starting point. Leave the airport via the stairs and then walk along the pavement next to the motorway to the Caminho da Fonte do Seixo roundabout and then continue to Machico or Canical.

Allow an extra day for this.

Tip: If you still need food or a gas cartridge, I can recommend the supermarket "Modelo Continente Machico" in (Sitio da Queimada de Baixo, 9200-017 Machico, Portugal). The nice Bold driver made a shopping stop there with me. Before starting your tour, please check for yourself whether a gas cartridge is in stock. There should also be some outdoor shops in Funchal.

As always, I recommend my video of the tour:

Route

Length: You have to cover approx. 105 km and 6000 metres in altitude. I needed a total of five days for the tour, which is very sporty. I would recommend 6-7 days for the connoisseur.


Day 1: As already mentioned, the tour starts at the small roundabout in Ponta de Sao Lourenco (Baia dÀbra), on the east coast of Madeira. I really liked the atmosphere there. You could see hikers and nature-loving people everywhere. I had a feeling of adventure there! Enjoy the beautiful rugged rock formations and the breathtaking views.

Tip: I spent my first overnight stay in a tent at the "Ponta do Bode" viewpoint. Unfortunately, the campsite is no longer available. However, you can also use the campsite in PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO. Alternatively, you can book a room in "Canical", "Machico" or "Porto da Cruz".


Due to the long distance and the sweaty altitude difference, I would like to recommend my ultra-light hiking gear at this point:

I would also like to recommend my beloved Salewa trekking shoes because of the mountain and jungle landscape and the challenging mountain trails:

"Only where you have been on foot have you really been". Quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
 hikes in madeira

Day 2: After a brilliant sunrise, I was immediately greeted by blue skies. My hiking heart was beating faster and I was looking forward to the upcoming coastal hike. A path along the beautiful north coast awaits you up to the Boca do Risco viewpoint, and then further along the water channels called levadas. You will then experience the jungle for the first time with all its facets until you finally reach Ribeiro Frio. I would recommend taking a longer break in Portela. There are some viewing platforms there that invite you to linger, as well as a great steak restaurant. The rest of the hike along the water channels was very adventurous and really exciting. But it was also wonderfully quiet and apart from the gurgling of the water and the birdsong, you won't hear a thing. In Ribeiro Frio you have the option of booking a room or staying in a tent. There is a campsite there called RIBEIRO FRIO.

hiking madeira

Day 3: Now it's time to gather your strength for the climb. On the third day, you'll be sweating your way uphill to the Pico de Arieiro and then continue along the King's Path via what is probably the craziest but most beautiful path I've ever hiked to the highest mountain in Madeira, the Pico Ruivo. As you have already left the jungle and there is little shade and you are constantly exposed to the movement of the air, I recommend my beloved Piz Buin Mountain sun cream with SPF 50+ lip care, as well as my ultra-light sun cap and wind blocker.

Sun cap

"The sun also shines behind the clouds." Quote from Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander

There is a mountain hut and a small campsite on Pico Ruivo where you can spend the night. The hut is called "Casa de Abrigo Pico Ruivo" and can be found under the following link: https://picoruivo.com/pt/. There were also many tents right next to the mountain hut. The landlord was extremely relaxed with me back then. I think it might still be possible to camp next to the hut for a small fee. Tip: The sunrise and sunset on Pico Ruivo were an incredible sensation. Goosebumps! Enjoy the following pictures in the slider!

Day 4: The magnificent sunrise had a lasting effect on me. During this spiritual event, you can feel the connection with nature and inner peace. I hope you experience similar moments at this place of power. Now, however, the easy descent route begins for you, although it goes up and down again and again. This route is a real experience, similar to the Königsweg. At some point, you will finally reach Boca Encumeada. This is a great place to take a break, as it is roughly halfway along the route. There is also a restaurant with an inviting viewing terrace. You then walk along the Levedas and through an approx. 1 kilometre long tunnel, as well as over numerous steps, to Seixal. The tunnel is a real sensation and perhaps unique in the world. At least I don't know of any comparable hike with such a monster of a tunnel. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you should probably avoid the tunnel. In Seixal you can book a room again or spend the night in a tent en route.


Don't forget to take an emergency bivouac with you. It consists of an emergency blanket that is cold-resistant, a whistle and a mini compass. It should be in your rucksack on every hike anyway.

As the old Scottish saying goes: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!"

Please note: The toughest stage is definitely on day 4 from Pico Ruivo to Seixal.

You have to cover approx. 29 km and quite a few metres in altitude. However, you can easily split up the stage. You can then use the shortened days for shorter levada hikes in the surrounding area, for example, and thus build on the tour. You can easily find accommodation along the shortened stages via "Booking" or "Airbnb". I would recommend Encumaeda here. There is accommodation within a radius of 4km. You can also head for the BICA DA CANA campsite and visit the Riso waterfall from there before continuing your journey to Seixal. The waterfall is a real gem, but unfortunately also overcrowded with tourists.

Tip: Seixal has one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. It is covered in black volcanic sand, which is shiny and extremely soft. The village is also extremely idyllic. Enjoy your time there!

madeira long distance hiking trail

Day 5: Now it's time to grit your teeth again. It's another sweat-inducing climb up to the laurel trees of Fanal Pond. Tip: It is most beautiful when the trees are shrouded in mist. It then has its very own mystical atmosphere. You may recognise this from numerous Instagram photos. You then walk downhill to Port Moniz. Porto Moniz is the most north-westerly town in Madeira and is best known for its impressive natural swimming pools surrounded by lava rocks. Head to the western end of the town and gaze out over the vast Atlantic Ocean. You will have reached your destination. Congratulations! If you've made it, you've earned my respect! Not an easy journey but unforgettably beautiful. It is my absolute favourite tour!

Madeira Hiking

Accommodation

Trekking camps on Madeira: On the map below I have marked all the campsites, the mountain hut on Pico Ruivo and other bookable accommodation (Booking.com and Airbnb). Alternatively, you can also visit the official website HERE. I have listed the campsites below.

Fonte do Bispo – Calheta

madeira trekking

Registration for the campsites: The island offers a number of campsites that can be used free of charge by adventure-seekers. All but a few of the trekking campsites on Madeira are free of charge. For your trekking adventure, however, you must register once at the following link and reserve a pitch. You will then receive a pdf document for your reservation. In rare cases, rangers come by and check the trekking campers. http://www.madeiracamping.com/permission/

Facilities at the trekking camps: The campsites are all equipped differently. On the official homepage you will find signs and information about what is available on the campsites and in their surroundings.

Booking.com and Airbnb: You can book a hotel or flat in any city. The best way to do this is with "Booking" or "Airbnb". You can also simply halve stages if they are too long.


Mountain hut on Pico Ruivo: There is a mountain hut and a small campsite on Pico Ruivo where you can spend the night. The hut is called "Casa de Abrigo Pico Ruivo" and can be found under the following link: https://picoruivo.com/pt/


For optimal preparation for any tour, I recommend the workouts on my YouTube channel:

Weather and best time to travel

In Madeira there is often a mix of sun, wind and clouds. The temperatures are actually always between 18 and 30 degrees. The least rainfall occurs in July and August. The months of April, May and June are also excellent for hiking. Generally, you can do the tour all year round, but in winter there might be snow on the mountains. So check before you start your tour.

Proverb from Madeira. Come into my garden. I want my roses to know you. Richard B. Sheridan 1751 - 1816.
Madeira Hiking

More information about the island crossing

Money: ATMs and credit cards are available in many places. You should still take enough cash with you on your trip. They only take cash at the mountain hut on Pico Ruivo.


Water: Unfortunately, you won't always find this. Make sure your water tank is always well filled. I usually had around 2.5 litres with me. You shouldn't drink the water from the lavedas. This is industrial water for agriculture. Sometimes there are also waterfall basins or fountains along the way. However, you should definitely use a water filter. No matter how clear the water may be, it may still contain impurities such as animal faeces or dead animals. However, you can also boil the water.

Water at the campsites: You won't find any water at the trekking camps themselves. You won't always find it on the route either, but there were never any real problems getting water. In the mountains it was possible to fill up at waterfalls (be careful: use a filter anyway!). Otherwise, there is a well or local supply in every larger village. Sometimes there is also a tap at houses. Thanks to the friendly inhabitants, I was able to top up my water supply. Nevertheless, I always used a water filter to be on the safe side.


Catering: Local catering is available in every larger town and at the hut on Pico Ruivo.


Animals or vermin: There are virtually no pests on the island and it is free of dangerous insects and bugs. Take care when pitching your tent, though. I had a bloody big spider in the undergrowth. It was a bit of a scare.


Surefootedness: To be safe on the trail, sure-footedness and the right footwear are the most important factors - after all, falls due to tripping and slipping are the most common cause of accidents when hiking. So remember: the right footwear and the right walking technique are therefore incredibly important. You are sure to find the right footwear in the article below!


Long-distance hiking trails in Europe: 90 routes, all countries

Wild & adventurous: these are the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in Europe.

Safety advice

All the safety rules of mountain sports also apply to hiking and trekking! You can find the safety rules in the link below:

Madeira Hiking

Recommended stages for the island crossing

1) Roundabout Ponta de Sao Lourenco - Canical approx. 15km (alternatively use the campsite in PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO or rooms in Canical, Machico or Porto da Cruz)

2) Canical - Ribeiro Frio approx. 20km (campsite available)

3) Ribeiro Frio - Pico Ruivo approx. 18km (campsite and mountain hut available)

4) Pico Ruivo - Seixal approx. 29km and approx. 1200 metres in altitude (note: very long stage, but can be shortened). Alternatively, you can book a room in Boca da Encumeada or use one of the two campsites nearby. The campsites are called CHÃO DOS LOUROS and BICA DA CANA.

5) Seixal - Port Moniz approx. 20km (campsite available)


Travel guide and hiking maps: I would also recommend a travel guide to help you prepare for your trip. The guidebook also describes lots of little side hikes that you can add to your tour.

On the way you will cross the following peaks:

Pico do Furado

Pico das Roçadas (379 m)

Pico do Arieiro (1.818 m)

Pico Ruivo (1.862 m) - Highest mountain in Madeira

Pico do Jorge (1.691 m)

Pico do Tapeiro (1.331 m)

Pico Ruivo do Paul (1.640 m)

Pedreira (1.242 m)

Fanal (1.236 m)

Pico do Caldeirão (418 m)

Madeira Hiking

Packing list

Here I recommend the most important hiking equipment that I own, have tested myself and have also bought myself. I pay a lot of attention to the weight and quality of my equipment. The equipment should simply feel good on longer tours and also be light. I can recommend the equipment for women because my wife uses it and it is basically the same as the equipment for men.


Note: Please keep in mind that the packing list is general and you will have to adapt it depending on the season and your needs!


Advertising note: These product links are affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, I will receive a small commission without you having to pay more. This is for the maintenance of my blog and you support me with my project, for which I am very grateful. Thank you very much!


Clothes

Hiking boots

Hiking shorts


Long hiking pants


Functional shirt


Hybridjacket


Fleece-jacket


Rain jacket


Functional underwear


Hiking socks


Other hiking equipment:

Sun cap


Hiking backback (approx. 60 litres or as required)

by EXPED - unfortunately not available on Amazon.

Backback - Ospray (was my old one and is also good)


Technology and orientation:

Compass

• GPS device or GPS watch if necessary

• Binoculars if necessary


Catering:

• Sweets to keep up morale :)


Health & first Aid:

First Aid (small and light)

Tape

• Toilet paper


Other:

• Passport/Insurance certificate

• cash

• Gas cartridge


Film equipment:

Camera

Drone

Tripod

Clip

madeira long-distance hiking trail

GPX and map information (Madeira trail map)

The GPX files are available for download from the following providers.


Outdooractive: https://out.ac/I3hJdc




Here is the route on the map (Madeira trail map):

Madeira Inselquerung Trail map

Conclusion

The island crossing with a length of almost 105 km is a fantastic long-distance hiking trail that offers an incredible amount. It shows a cross-section of the beautiful landscape of Madeira. I really enjoyed the tour! It is my absolute favourite tour. Have a great time and good luck ;)


As always, I would be very happy to receive feedback via one of my channels.



You are also welcome to leave me a comment here.

 
Hikingfex owner

Hello, I am Christian, the chief globetrotter of this Site and an enthusiastic adventurer, hiker and filmmaker. I love to explore new paths and inspire people with them, and I love to share my hiking knowledge with you! You can also find my videos on YouTube! On my blog you can find tips for beginners and professionals on the greatest and most beautiful hiking tours there are. I want to encourage people to explore the world as a hiker, whether in the countryside, through the forest or in the mountains. True to the motto: If you haven't hiked, you haven't seen the world,


On my blog, I also write about hiking gear, the right summit training and nature conservation, as well as tips and information about hiking.


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Guest
Aug 25, 2023

Hi,

I would like to do this crossing, and I would like to know if it is necessary to leave in total autonomy or we can buy food all along the route

Thank you

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Christian Sommer
Christian Sommer
Oct 23, 2023
Replying to

Hello,


In almost every village there is the possibility to buy food. I would recommend Google Maps, so you can adapt your tour to your needs.


LG Christian

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Guest
Apr 20, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I am planning the tour for July. Thank you for the information.


see you soon

Ina

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