Thanks to our absolutely wonderful host in Madeira (no publicity intended, but someone might need it one day :D), we did get a second tour of the island, this time without German grannies. This was also a more adventurous one, taking local routes with spectacular views. Not sure the car enjoyed them as much as we did!
Our first stop, coming from the eastern town of Machico offers great panoramas of the mountains, and of the Northern coast:
The ground is dry and rocky, and the flora there is very different to the heather scrub in my previous post:
We continue our way westwards, and stop at the even more spectacular (although a bit touristy) Pico do Arieiro. An air defence radar was built a few years ago at the peak which is 1818m high. There’s also a pathway going to the highest peak in Madeira, the Pico Ruivo (1861m).
The peak can get frost and snow in winter as well as high winds, so as you would expect from that sort of habitat, the plants are low growing and tend to take shelter along rocks and crevices.
After half an hour drive on the sinuous mountain roads of Madeira, we arrive at the slightly lower Eira do Serrado, a 1094m peak overlooking the very famous Nun Valley (Curral das Freiras). The name comes from history – apparently, in 1566 the nuns from the Santa Clara convent in Funchal fled the city to escape pirates and settled in the village at the bottom of the valley:
A small path leads from the car park to the viewpoint, but I’m actually more interested in the flora growing on the cliffs. Lots of mosses and liverworts there, and also a few grasses. I am slowly working my way through the IDs…
The rocks are also home to animals, such as countless of lizards and millipedes:
The view at the end of the path is breathtaking. But don’t look if you’re prone to vertigo!
On our way to the North Coast, we stop at the Pico do Galo (also known as Crista do Galo or “Cock’s Comb”), which does bear a certain resemblance with Polynesian landscapes:
We reach our host’s house by the evening. What a view…
…and we end our holiday with a glass of Madeiran wine while watching the sun set:
I hope you all enjoyed this little overview of Madeira. Here’s a quick recap of the posts if you haven’t already seen them:
Part 1: the streets of Funchal
Part 2: the parks of Funchal
Part 3: the quintas of Funchal
Part 4: Madeira Botanical garden
Part 5: Monte Tropical Gardens
Part 6: The Levadas
Part 7: Marine treasures
Part 8: The West (well, actually mostly the North!)