Maderia, the Island of Eternal Spring & Levadas

Fri 6 to Wed 11 Oct 2017

Parque Natural da Madeira

Don’t confuse Madeira for Ibiza!

It attracts a more refined clientele, and raving is limited to enthusiasm about the island’s dramatic scenery and botanical wonders.

I think the location of Madeira is one of the most enviable on the whole earth. It ensures every European comfort with almost every tropical luxury.”

Check out the pictures from our last trip here!

Madeirans know this of course, and over the years have enhanced their quality of life by producing an abundance of fine food and wine. They have also helpfully provided access to their rugged countryside by building more than 1,000 miles of irrigation channels (Levadas), accompanied by footpaths that snake through the kind of striking landscapes making ideal hiking routes.

Often referred to as Portugal’s Garden of Eden, Madeira is known as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’ and was voted ‘Europe’s Leading Island Destination’ at the World Travel Awards in 2016. This beautiful Atlantic island is closer to the African mainland than Europe and is enveloped in fragrant bougainvillaea, vibrant lilac jacarandas, frangipani and orchids, creating a colourful, picture-perfect landscape. It’s more rugged natural attractions encompass rocky coves, towering mountains and pebble or black sand beaches, perfect for strolling and hiking. And hiking allows for the exploration of lovely small villages and hidden coves.

Most of the island is an exuberant botanical garden of volcanic soil where just about anything grows, the difference being that the formal gardens have created a semblance of order in the horticultural chaos. Palheiro, in the hills above Funchal, has an outstanding collection of camellias. Still, the most impressive specimen is a towering Norfolk Island pine from New Zealand, a veritable Lord of the Forest that looks ready to join Frodo Baggins in a battle against the evil Sauron.

This is the island’s main wine-producing area, a patchwork of precipitous terraced vineyards that appear to defy logic and gravity. Aficionados of Madeira’s fortified wines should know they are produced by back-breaking toil in vineyards not much bigger than back gardens. There is not enough level land here to park a harvesting machine, much less use one.

Funchal

This cosmopolitan capital, Funchal, sits high on a hillside on the island’s south coast, and orbits around a pretty bay of warm waters and cultural heritage. The city’s name derives from ‘funno’ (fennel) due to its abundance on the island.

Funchal has a real mix of old and new; modern boutiques, chic cafés and stylish seafood restaurants are all found around the marina area. While amidst the Old Town’s cobbled streets, you’ll find colonial buildings and authentic tavernas where you can sample the local ‘Espada’. There are also art galleries, a covered market and a 15th-Century cathedral. Take a dip at the lido, then test the famous local dessert wine at one of Funchal’s bars.

Visit the Madeira Botanical Gardens, famed for the vast range of 2500 exotic plant species originating from all over the world, including birds of paradise, dragon trees, sugar cane and medicinal plants. The colonial mansion gardens also play host to the Loiro Park, where you can see tropical birds including cockatoos and parakeets.

Take the 15-minute cable car from Funchal to the small village of Monte for fantastic sea views. If you have time to spare at the top, wander around the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, while the more adventurous can take a toboggan ride back down to Funchal! In the Santa Catarina Park, you can see the statue of Christopher Columbus and enjoy views over the bay of Funchal.

“Levada” is a Portuguese word derived from the word “levar” – which means to carry and is roughly translated as “carriageway”, but more correctly defined as mini-canal. These mini-canals are irrigation systems developed to distribute water from the rainfall heavy and wet regions on the north of Madeira island to the drier sun parched regions of the south. These narrow water carriageways deliver precious water over great distances to banana plantations, vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, as well as to hydro-electric power stations dotted around the island.

The levadas crisscross the mountains and cover a total distance of 2500 km, and date back to as far as the early 16th century. These routes now form the Levada “Walks” or walking trails along the maintenance paths beside the Levadas. Although the Levadas were constructed primarily for agricultural/industrial use, they are just as important for tourists and local people alike who want to enjoy outdoor adventure activities inaccessible by cars.


Hinking

We will spend our days hiking in these beautiful surrounding. We have a number of hikes planned and with at least two hike leaders, possibly three and will be able to offer a range of hikes at different levels of ability. Our guides have extensive navigational and leading experience and have been wilderness first aid trained.

We plan to host a mix of the following levels of routes and hikes, although not all levels will be available on each day:

We select and publish the planned routes for the weekend and display them at the venue or on our event Whatsapp chat. Thus we are able to make the very best of the destination and the forecasted weather conditions along with our own local knowledge and that of the locals.

Here are just a few of the hike descriptions, which we hope will whet your appetite

Paradise Valley walk is a relaxing Levada walk between mountains and valley’s on the area of Stº da Serra. Such a charming walk, covered with luxuriant vegetation, delightful wildflowers, eucalyptus & pine forest, surrounded by tiny familiar farms producing different vegetables and fruits, and beautiful landscapes all the way through.

Ponta de Sao Lourenco Walk is beautiful! It is situated on the most eastern point of Madeira and is part of a natural park with fabulous seascapes and dramatic views over the north and south of the island. The islands volcanic formation is evident in the rugged beauty of fascinating rock formations. On the horizon, to the South, you can see Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and to the North the Porto Santo Islands. Not only do we find some scarce and unique flora and fauna but, in the sea, you may be lucky enough to spot the world’s rarest seal, known in Madeira as a Sea-wolf (Monachus monachus).

With beautiful views of the ocean crashing against the coast and the offshore rocks, we take the time to swim in the all inviting clear turquoise-blue waters of the Atlantic.

The Encumeada walk is one of those walks that no serious walker should miss. If we had to choose one mountain walk, this would be it. Magnificent views and very little climbing. Spectacular viewpoint overlooking Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley) and the enchanting green valley of Ribeiro do Poco. It’s is a rather long walk, more like trekking, but one is mesmerized by the power of the rugged mountains all around and lush green valleys of Encumeada below. A real beauty.


Food & Wine

When visiting Madeira and Porto Santo Islands, you will have the possibility of tasting a wide range of typical regional dishes. Throughout the year, Madeira Island has many typical dishes, that is, dishes traditionally eaten in Carnival, Easter, summer holidays, Christmas and New Year.

Locals are very fond of “bolo do caco” and fresh limpets, before start the meal. This is an excellent choice for starters. “Bolo do Caco” is a typical wheat flour bread, with garlic butter and parsley. If you are a meat lover, you should try the famous “espetada”, beef cubed hung in a bay leaf stick.

“Carne de Vinhos e Alhos” is a delicious dish which consists of small pieces of pork that are left to marinate in a mix of sauce. “Picado” is an excellent choice too. They consist of small amounts of beef fried with garlic in a pan. It’s usually served with French fries.

However, Madeira also has excellent fish dishes available, given its location. These are the well-know “Espada” (black scabbard fish), “Espada com banana frita” (black scabbard fish with fried banana), tuna fish, “bacalhau” (codfish) and “Espada” and “pota” are gastronomic specialities typical of Câmara de Lobos municipality.

As for dessert, try the various delicious puddings, such as passion fruit pudding, velvet pudding, mango pudding and also fresh fruit.

We will have two meals in the hotel and have the opportunity to dine out at local restaurants for two nights. Our group’s finale dinner ill takes place in a private room at Restaurante Do Forte which is positioned within the historical Fortress of São Tiago (17th Century) and serves a gastronomical feast matched by fine service


Accommodation

This hotel is an excellent example of three-star late nineteen sixties interior design, which confers it an identity and style of its own. The hotel has a restaurant for breakfast and other meals. The Bar on the reception floor has a nice terrace, billiards and television where clients can watch Sports TV channels.

On the top floor, there’s an outdoor swimming pool with a beautiful view of the bay and the surrounding mountains.

All of the rooms are equipped with a television with cable TV, free wifi, a telephone and a private bathroom. They are uniquely decorated with photo panels with icons of the sixties.


Flights

AAA events start and end in the arrival airport so you will need to arrange your own flight to/from the specified airport for the official Meetup time and point as shown below

We recommend the following flights.

DateDepartArriveFlightDep.Arr.
6 OctGatwickFunchalBA12309:0012:35
6 OctStanstedFunchalEJ12309:1012:55
11 OctFunchalGatwickBA32117:0522:10
11 OctFunchalStanstedEJ32116:0021:55

If you want to coordinate flights, lifts to the airport in the UK we recommend that you post a message on the “Meetup “Message Board that is specific to this event.


Price includes

  • 1 Welcome supper on arrival day
  • 5 nights in twin-share rooms
  • 5 Continental breakfasts.
  • 2 Hotel buffet dinners.
  • Transfers on arrival and departure for the specified group Meetup time detailed above.
  • Choice of guided hikes by an experienced guide and trained Mountain leader with Wilderness First Aid Training.
  • Event organisation and briefings.
  • Compliance with the 1992 Package Travel Regulations including Financial protection.

Price does not include

  • Flights
  • Two dinners
  • Lunches daily
  • Souvenirs
  • Entrance fees to any attractions you wish to visit.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Any alcoholic beverages

Price per person, standard sharing room £ 249

Price per person, standard single room £ 310

To book and confirm your place please select the required ‘Ticket’ option below


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions refer to our comprehensive Frequently Asked Question section where answers to the question, such as the following and many more can be found;

  • How do I book my place?
  • What should I wear?
  • How fit do I need to be?
  • Can I bring my dog?
  • Are children allowed?
  • What happens if I need to cancel and can I get a refund?
  • What if the weather isn’t very nice?
  • Who buys the rail ticket?
Get the answers to those frequently asked questions here

Join the AAA Meetup Community

Apr.2-5 Easter in Dartmoor National Park, ancient clapper bridges, wild ponies

Friday, Apr 2, 2021, 4:00 PM

YHA Okehampton Bracken Tor
Okehampton, GB

17 Hiking Enthusiasts Attending

Join us for all-inclusive 4 days & 3 nights Hiking Easter weekend to Dartmoor. This unforgettable trip will include delicious & famous AAA homemade food and great time for you to remember! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZfoA4GVsZc LOCATION Situated in the south-west of England, right in the very heart of Devon, Dartmoor is a landscape of stunning…

Check out this Meetup →

Join our AAA Meetup Community attending this event.
Tickets
Standard Shared Room
£249.00
Standard single Room
£310.00
Itinerary

Your AAA host will be at the venue ready to greet you on your arrival and show you to your accommodation.

Supper, typically comprising of a vegetarian soup accompanied with bread, hams and cheeses will be available from this time followed by the AAA "speciality", home made banana cake or similar.

A variety of teas, cocoa and coffee are available. Members preferring alcoholic beverages should ensure they bring a tipple of their choice (Occasionally some venues do not permit the consumption of alcohol that’s not purchased at the venue, in such instances we will do our best to advise you in advance)

Once the majority of members have arrived your hosts will again welcome you to the weekend, explain the program for the weekend, outline the hike and activities planned and answer any question you might have.

Food is available until midnight or the last guest has arrived!

If you arriving later than 23:00 please text or phone your host to let them know. Thank you.

A selection of loaves of bread, cold meats, cheeses, salad, jams, dressings, spreads, pickles etc. will be available for you to make your own personalised sandwiches for your packed lunch. 

A variety of biscuits, snacks, crisps and fruit will also be available along with sandwich bags.

It is always good to bring your own packed lunch box to protect your sandwiches in your rucksack and to save the environment.

The AAA Cooked Breakfast is served from this time comprising of;

o Fresh brewed coffee and juice.

o Homemade creamy porridge with choices of toppings (nuts, fruit salad, honey etc.)

o Cereals & yoghurts.

o Cooked breakfast (sausages, eggs, baked beans)

Everyone is encouraged to assists with the clearing away of breakfast in order that we can start the day’s activities as early as possible.

Members assemble together, dressed and ready for the day's activities. Your hosts will brief everyone on the hiking options available for the day and introduced you to the hike/activities leaders prior to being asked your preferred choice of hike or activity. Group sizes for activities tend to be between 12-20 people per group, this of course varies. We offer a minimum of two hikes, which will differ in length and grade. It is important to dress appropriately for the route and conditions if the hike leaders have concerns about your clothing and footwear they might ask you to reconsider your choice for your own and the group's safety.

By this time all the hikes will have departed. Some hikes will depart from the accommodation by foot others might select a hike that requires using the available vehicles to get to the start point. Don’t worry your hosts will organise this with everyone involved. Don't forget your pack lunch and ample water for the day.

The shorter hikes* (6-10 miles/10-16 km) will start arriving back at the accommodation from this time onwards.

Homemade scones, jam and clotted cream served with tea will be available along with cake and cookies.

The longer hikes* (12-18 miles/19-28 km) start arriving back at the accommodation from this time onwards. In the summer months when the evenings are longer this return time will be later. Cream teas will be served upon the groups return.

Everyone is welcome to help and contribute to the preparation of supper once they have had time to shower and freshen up after their hikes. This is social time so please feel free to bring along a glass of wine if you like

Dinner is served at this time. Prior to dinner, we have a short briefing to prepare you for the following day and to announce the dinner menu.

After dinner has been cleared away there is ample time to relax with a drink, socialise and even play games. Your welcome to introduce your own games if you like. When our accommodation isn't in a remote location you might like to experience one of the local public houses.

A selection of loaves of bread, cold meats, cheeses, salad, jams, dressings, spreads, pickles etc. will be available for you to make your own personalised sandwiches for your packed lunch. A variety of biscuits, snacks, crisps and fruit will also be available along with sandwich bags. It is always good to bring your own packed lunch box to protect your sandwiches in your rucksack and to save the environment.

The AAA Cooked Breakfast is served from this time comprising of; o Fresh brewed coffee and juice. o Homemade creamy porridge with choices of toppings (nuts, fruit salad, honey etc.) o Cereals & yoghurts. o Cooked breakfast (sausages, eggs, baked beans)

Everyone is encouraged to assists with the clearing away of breakfast in order that we can start the day’s activities as early as possible.

Members assemble together, dressed and ready for the day's activities. Your hosts will brief everyone on the hiking options available for the day and introduced you to the hike/activities leaders prior to being asked your preferred choice of hike or activity. Group sizes for activities tend to be between 12-20 people per group, this of course varies. Dependant upon the duration available for hiking we sometimes host one large social hike so that everyone has the chance to meet. Otherwise, we will offer a choice of hikes. It is important to dress appropriately for the route and conditions if the hike leaders have concerns about your clothing and footwear they might ask you to reconsider your choice for your own and the group's safety.

By this time all the hikes will have departed.  Some hikes will depart from the accommodation by foot others might select a hike that requires using the available vehicles to get to the start point.

It is important to note that its most unlikely that we will return to the accommodation unless advised locally. Therefore you are required to pack all your luggage and belonging in the vehicle you are returning home in.

Don’t worry your hosts will organise this with everyone involved.

We recommend you prepare a packed lunch or some snacks.  The hikes aim to be back at a central location where members wishing to have a Pub lunch or café stop can do so, before the journey home. However, this is not always possible and pubs 

Depending upon the weekend's location we aim to depart home from this time.

We believe that most people wish to be back home between 19:00-21:00 in order that they have enough time to prepare for the week ahead

Hosts
Misha Hike Leader & Event Organiser
Misha Tymofeyenko
Founder, Group & Events Organiser, Hike Leader & First Aider
Mike Hudson
Group & Event Organiser, Hike Leader & First Aider
FAQ

The answer to the question that's just about this trip and not covered by standard FAQ

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