Madeira Day 1 | Caniçal- Casa das Funduras
Hiking 12.1 km Ascent: 762 m Descent: 329 m Max Elevation: 536 m
We started our trek at 10:00 am. The first few meters are simple. At the Museu da Baleia, you have to turn right and walk up the hill, till you reach the next crossing and turn left. At the Museu we realized that our GPS wasn’t set up properly. Our mood dropped to an unforeseen low.
But this wasn’t the only thing we forgot at home. Bella’s hiking sticks were still in the basement. She was not amused… The GPS and the sticks were the hope she had to make this trip the smooth experience she was looking for. There we were: 2 motivated hikers without motivation at the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
The only thing going through Bella’s mind: Arghhh, where are my sticks, where are my sticks…
The bleak landscape suited our mood. We started walking anyways.
This short but demanding route traces one of Madeira’s historic roads, an old stone trail connecting the coastal settlements of Machico and Caniçal. The trail today is little-used and the former agricultural terraces that go along with it have been largely abandoned.
The lag of shadow makes the initial climb to Machico even more tiring. Just a few goats enjoyed the fantastic coastal views with us. We stopped every hour for a few minutes, to get used to the temperature and steep climbs. Shortly before Machico we reached the Pico do Facho. This viewpoint offers a wide view over the Machico valley. Reaching as far as the island’s central peaks and Ponta de São Lourenço.
From up here we could already see our next destination the “Continente” in Machico. A huge supermarket. Machico would also be our last chance to find hiking sticks for Bella. We followed the streets and after a few hundred meters we turned left to descent to Machico, where the goat “Helga” welcomed us from far away. A small levada finally leaded us to the easternmost municipality on the island. One of many more levadas to come…
Many levadas are cut into the sides of mountains, but also go through them in tunnels.
We asked our way through to the Continente. Everybody was super helpful, even if they didn’t know where we wanted to go, they pointed in some direction. The small houses and stepped streets were absolutely picturesque.
At the supermarket we bought the last supplies (a lot of them) and had a small lunch break.
Then we started our search for a new pair of hiking sticks. We weren’t successful but the small detour gave us a perfect overview over Machico.
From the historic point of view, this is probably the most interesting town on the whole island. As Machico was the landing point of the discoverers of Madeira. The oldest church, the ‘Capela dos Milagres’, and two forts still bear witness of the locals’ defense against the pirate attacks on the village. Machico has a wonderful beach and good facilities for both swimming and sunbathing. But no hiking sticks, which sucks.
We continued our trail on the main road, which is divided by the Machico River, until we reach a roundabout. From here on, it was a really steep climb towards the “Levada do Caniçal – Machico”. We had a wonderful view over Machico. After a few meters on the trail, we had to take our backpacks of and continue on all fours. This can’t be the right way, so we turned around and searched for an alternative way. – It was tough
I even had to carry Bella’s backpack, since it was simply too steep.
Which meant: Hike up a couple of meter, set the backpack down. Walk down. Help Bella up. Walk down again and carry Bella’s backpack up. And again… Hike up….. I guess I am a true hero.
Finally the “Levada do Caniçal – Machico”. This Levada is super simple to walk.
Along the way arise incredible views of the city of Machico, its houses and gardens and the vast Atlantic Ocean as a background. There are small bowls of fruits, along the path. Which you can take, in return of a small donation.
After just 1 hour, the 4 km long path was already over, where we passed our first tunnel as well.
The Madeiran on this stretch of the journey were incredible, friendly and courteous. Everybody wants to chat with you or talk about the beauty of Machico Valley.
As we’ve reached the next street, we followed a small path up the hill, where an old man offered us a warm bed for the night. Sadly we had to decline to continue our walk upwards. He was a bit scared – it was already 5 pm – that we wouldn’t reach our destination. Bella explained to him, that we are carrying our home on our shoulders. That made him smile and he approved … Boa viagem! Many, many steps later, we reached a small pond. Time for a break.
The path leaded us into a forest and after a few hundred meters we reached our camp site. The stepped path continued towards the Casa das Funduras (PR5) but not for us, at least not for today. A perfect spot for the night. We didn’t follow the sign “Casa das Funduras” and continued walking on the path until we reached a dead-end.
It was finally time for a cold tortilla de patatas. Over a game Yahtzee, we while away the evening.