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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Madeira Mountains of the Interior - Pico do Arieiro

This post is for my Mountain Loving Utah Friends.  
Well, its for you too, but when I saw this peaks towering over the island, it really reminded me of Utah (you know, minus the whole Atlantic Ocean thing).  While traveling around this beautiful island, you will be amazed at how mountainous and steep the geography is.  But you will not expect to drive up the mountain and find these jagged peaks poking through the clouds, towering high about the Atlantic Ocean. 

Dreamy, isn't it?

Courtesy of Google Maps 
From Funchal:  ~ 40 minutes 

No Car? No Problem!
Book a tour HERE to see this part of the island, 
along with other spots of central Madeira, including hotel pickup.

You can drive up to this peak (Pico do Arieiro, the third highest peak at 1,818 meters, 5,965 feet) where you will find a cafe, the Portuguese air force radar station, and amazing views of Madeira's peaks.  There is just something so beautiful about seeing the peaks poking through the clouds, with the Atlantic Ocean exposed in the background.  It combines my new love of mountains with my old and existing love affair with the water.  You really can have it all on Madeira Island. 

This is also a popular spot to start a hike or catch a sunrise (and you will not be alone!).  If you have the time and the will power to hike Madeiras mountain peaks, this is where you will start.  You can drive up and hike from this spot, Pico do Arieiro (the third highest peak on the mountains) and hike over to Pico Ruivo (the highest peak at 1862 meters, 6,108 feet).  While I didn't have time to complete this hike, I heard it is a stunning view of the island and probably one of the best hikes on the island.  But it is not for the faint of heart as you teeter on cliff edges and make your way through dark tunnels.  There is also a daily average of around 1,000 tourists on this path in the peak seasons so if crowds aren't for you, think twice about this hike. 

I also recommend going with a guide (I did for my levada walk) as not only do they solve the transportation problem, but you have insurance through the guide group, and an amazing commentary about the native plants, animals and landscape on the island (for a great price! ~32-36 euros, about $38).  

Entrance to Pico do Arieiro
If hiking Madeira's peaks isn't your cup of tea, then do not worry, you can just drive right on up to Pico do Ariero to snap a few pictures and take in the beautiful views. The drive is steep, but worth the climb to be above the clouds. This volcanic island is a pretty amazing feat, when you see these tall peaks jutting up from this relatively small island sitting in the Atlantic Ocean.  This is a must see spot if you are lucky enough to visit the beautiful island of Madeira. 

Roadway below the viewing area
My family at the lookout balcony
Family above the clouds 
Deck at the gift shop
Mountain peaks, Madeira Island 
Trail signs, alternate route to Pico Ruivo 
Hiking trail to Pico Ruvio

Katie Wanders among the mountain peaks!
Clouds rolling into Madeira Island
Viewing balcony

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