Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Walking above the clouds in Madeira

Walking in Madeira: February 2013

Linda's been off again - this time to Madeira, on a walking trip with Stefano Spinetti, one of our favourite guides, "It was amazing, the first walking holiday I've ever been on. Stefano took us walking all day, up, up, way above the cloud line. I feel really fit now, really enjoyed it....." gushed Linda on her return. For those who don't know, Linda is our Operations Manager, and travels to many of our destinations, assisting, and making sure the trip runs smoothly, seeing where improvements can be made, forging relationships with clients, hoteliers, tutors and guides. She's a keen photographer, has been on many painting trips.....but never walking!

We hope all the eight walkers felt the same way as Linda! We've had some great reports from our clients; Catherine told us, "I work really hard so that I can go on your holidays - Madeira was great, thank you." Thank YOU Catherine, that's a wonderful testimonial.

Arriving at Hotel Pousada dos Vinhaticos on the first night there's time to explore the area before supper time, and by morning Stefano has them all listening to his introduction about 'levadas' - irrigation channels running across a large proportion of the mountain sides, taking water down into resevoirs at the bottom of the valley. The Rabacal Valley is incredibly lush, green, teeming with wildlife, and water, water everywhere!

The channels provide the perfect walking routes, to some of the remotest parts of the island, high up above the clouds - fabulous three hundred and sixty degree views! From the easternmost point of the island, with views of Islas Desertas (Deserted Islands) a Portugese archipelago floating between Madeira and The Canary Islands, the minibus takes you higher still where you climb the rest of the way up to Pico Ruivo, the tallest peak on the island with breathtaking views.

All the way, Stefano is teaching, talking, encouraging - he's well known as an all-rounder, historian, ecologist, with a keen interest in the wildlife, flora and fauna. Packed lunches are provided for the walks, and on a rest break, Linda delights in the poetry readings from Stefano, "he's just great - he always gives more than we expect.....and we didn't expect poetry!"

Evening meals are dotted with interesting anecdotes and wine tastings. Day trips include cheese and olive oil tastings. Have a free day exploring Funchal, the capital of Madeira for the past five centuries, relax or swim, and visit the tropical gardens.

Other highlights include a spectacular levada on the islands Northeastern point which takes us past a waterfalls and long tunnels, back to Porto Moniz, a natural spa.

Fancy a warm bath in volcanic pools? Why not, you're on holiday!

There will undoubtedly be another trip to Madeira in 2014, but in the meantime take a look at our website for more tempting journeys:

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