MADEIRA ISLAND: THE ATLANTIC GARDEN
A week of pure wellness and nature.
Back from Madeira, here's my new article!
Madeira was my first long-awaited trip, after months of coronavirus pandemic.. that's probably why the universe was so kind, giving me a week of sunshine and perfect weather, without wind and without a cloud, with a Caribbean coloured sea!
They call Madeira 'the garden of the Atlantic'; those who live there call it 'our piece of paradise on earth' ... in fact, it is.
A wonderful island, with a mild temperature all year round, which smells of coloured flowers.
It is the perfect destination for those who love walking in the lush, exuberant nature of the Laurissilva forest.
An amazing nature where high rocky mountains plunge into the ocean. Impressive cliffs; virgin fajas that, when seen from above, captivate and contrast with the crystal-clear waters of the ocean; hidden beaches of black sand or pebbles, clear evidence of the island's volcanic origin, and some that can only be reached by cable car... because Madeira is the island of tunnels and cable cars! The European funds used for the construction of the tunnels now allow for faster and safer travel throughout the island, significantly improving connections between different areas.
It is a destination that combines sea and mountains, where everyone can enjoy a variety of fun activities and experiences: from canyoning (Madeira is one of the best places in the world to try it, thanks to the presence of so many rivers and waterfalls!!) to canoeing and boat trips to spot and swim with dolphins; from diving to rock climbing and countless trekking: there are more than 50 official ones!
The highest mountain is Pico Ruvio, at 1862 metres. It is always windy up there, but it is the best place to enjoy the view of an unforgettable sunrise. It is also the starting point for one of the most challenging and scenic treks on the island, an up-and-down trek across three mountains: Pico do Ruvio, Pico das Torres and Pico do Areeiro, at 1810 metres.
Let's say that Madeira is not the destination for a "beach and relaxation" holiday (for this type of holiday, there is the nearby Porto Santo, which you can reach by ferry in about 2.30 h) but it is the destination for those who love active holidays (like me!!)
Funchal, a lively Atlantic city where most of the population lives, is the ideal starting point for exploring the island. A tourist city par excellence, it has everything you need: a thousand restaurants, shops, souvenirs, museums, theatre, parks and beautiful gardens, including the botanical garden, which you can reach by cable car from the old town to the upper part of the city, from where you can enjoy one of the most sensational views of the coast and the Funchal marina. Lose yourself in the narrow streets of the 'old part' of the city, admiring the colourful doors of rua Santa Maria, painted by local artists who have turned this street into an open-air museum.
Visit the famous market (Mercado dos Lavradores) that is packed every day and whose stalls are teeming with fresh flowers and tropical Madeiran fruit. Taste some of the endemic fruits that you can't find anywhere else, such as the maracuja banana, and get to know the fresh fish that arrives daily directly from ocean waters on the market counters.
Climb to the top of the city, Monte, from whose church there are amazing views and, if you wish, try the typical basket sledges, - a Madeiran tradition!
Madeira is an ideal destination for those who love unspoilt nature. The choice of hiking, trekking and walking among the levadas is vast.
Walking along paths between steep cliffs overlooking the ocean, following the path of the levadas (irrigation channels used to bring water to the cultivated fields), walking along the veredas or reaching a waterfall and diving into its cool waters for a regenerating bath, is the prerogative of a Madeira holiday.
On sunny days, a bright light illuminates the sea and the blue sky, reflecting the green of the mountains, the colours of the thousands of flowers that paint the island and the endless banana plantations... Madeira bananas: such a delight!
Madeira is a fertile land where, thanks to its microclimate, tropical fruits, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and maracujas grown up easily. Don't miss a tasting of the liquorous Madeira wine and have an excellent poncha caseira: (I love that one made with agua ardente and maracuja!) the typical beverage to drink with friends in one of the many bars overlooking the sea.
Here you can taste delicious fresh fish dishes and enjoy the folklore of the local people, who are welcoming and always ready to chat with those who come to visit from the mainland.
What I propose to you is a journey of exploration, in an exuberant nature; trekking through unique landscapes; sunrises on top of the peaks of Pico Areeiro; views of fantastic sunsets, swimming in the natural pools of Porto Moniz or enjoying a glass of wine near the lighthouse of Ponta do Pargo...
You can choose a 'fly and drive' programme to experience the island in total freedom (following the advice I will send you in the file with your booking, so that you can enjoy the best of the island and reach those typical places where the massive tourisms don't arrive!) or you can decide to participate in one of the scheduled group departures (small groups, maximum 12 people).
Madeira is a destination that, due to its mild and temperate climate, can be visited all year round. The month of May is its high season, due to the flower festival that sells out the island every year, so it should be avoided if you don't like the hustle and bustle.
Of course, being able to escape for a week during our dreary winters or in those quieter months like October, November and March is the ideal solution... cheaper prices, less tourist pressure and an Eden to enjoy, completely at your disposal!
Are you ready for a new adventure?! Immerse yourself in the green heart of this protected corner of paradise in the Atlantic Ocean and feel all its energy.
Write me an email to receive your ideal travel programe, and find out the dates scheduled for group departures, already for this summer 2021!
Madeira is waiting for you!
P.s. COVID RULES: Nowadays, a negative covid19 PCR test is sufficient to enter Madeira. There is NO quarantine requested. Travelling here is simple and safe.
To see some videos and more photos, you can find the 'Madeira' album on my fb profile Ilaria Bonfante and on the official ila travel tips page.