An island of flowers – Part 9 (the end): By the mountain and the sea

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…

An island of flowers – Part 8: The West (well, actually mostly the North!)

As car rentals on-the-spot proved to be extremely expensive, and local buses rather impractical on a limited amount of time, we decided to go with one of the hundreds of minibuses that tour the island every day carrying German grannies from one viewpoint to the other…never mind the German grannies, the “West Tour” that we chose…

An island of flowers – Part 7: Marine treasures

As promised, this post won’t be dedicated to terrestrial, but marine creatures. We’ll start with a nice little cruise off the Southern coast of Madeira: Very popular with tourists, these 3-4 hour cruises on catamarans offer the visitor a chance to catch a glimpse of Madeira’s marine fauna. There are 10 species of whales that can…

An island of flowers – Part 6: The Levadas

Madeira’s landscape is dotted with over 2000 km of levadas, which are unique irrigation channels bringing water down from the mountains to fields and coastal towns. Started in the 15th century, the network of levadas has been extended and improved (the first ones were built in wood!). These narrow (20-100cm wide) channels following the contours of the landscape…

An island of flowers – Part 5: Monte Tropical Gardens

As promised in my previous post, this is a visit to a nearby but completely different place, the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. Located slightly higher (600m above sea level), the Monte hills can be reached by an impressive cable car overlooking laurel forest: Where the Botanic Gardens were exposed, filled with cacti and succulents, the Monte Tropical Gardens…

An island of flowers – Part 4: Madeira Botanical garden

Reached by a short drive from the centre of Funchal, the Jardim Botanico, located 300m above sea level is a relatively recent botanic garden (opened in 1960), but full of surprises. We start our visit by the spectacular Succulents zone, with the orange flower heads of Aloe striata and red ones of Aloe plicatilis : As…

An island of flowers – Part 3: the quintas of Funchal

As this article explains quite well, the simplest definition of a Portuguese quinta is that of a countryside estate with a large house, surrounded by orchards and gardens. Many quintas have been swallowed by developments and incorporated into the urban mesh of Funchal, but they still carry a hint of Madeira’s aristocratic past. In the heart of Funchal ‘Old Town’,…

An island of flowers – Part 2: the parks of Funchal

As you’ve discovered in my previous post, the flora of Madeira, in particular its capital city Funchal is very diverse. This is reflected in the numerous parks scattered in the city, and the most famous example is probably the Jardim Municipal. Located in the touristic heart of Funchal, it was established in 1878 on the…

An island of flowers – Part 1: the streets of Funchal

This is the first post in a long series on the island of Madeira, where I went on holiday last month. With stunning landscapes and very interesting flora, I’m sure you will enjoy the trip! Located approximately 500 km off the African coast, and 1000 km south of continental Europe, Madeira is in fact a…