Madeira Day 5 | Pico do Arieiro – Boca da Encumeada

Hiking 16.3 km  Ascent: 944 m Descent: 1369m Max Elevation: 1861 m

Accurate height profile

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Today we woke up early, to enjoy the sunrise over the Ocean, it was magical.

We could see small boats arriving in Funchal. As soon as the sun came out, the sky was painted red. At 8 o’clock we arrive at the top of Pico do Arieiro. The weather was perfect, time for the first really difficult route on our adventure.

Before we started, we had a cake and a coffee at the restaurant.

We also got some water from the restroom, not so much, because we thought we could get more water at the top of Pico Ruivo… a huge mistake!!!

madeira Pico Ruivo Pico do Arieiro wanderweg
madeira Pico Ruivo Pico do Arieiro trail

Time for the “pinnacle stage” the PR1 between Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo the highest peak of Madeira. Starting at Pico do Arieiro, within a short distance we come upon the Ninho da Manta (Buzzard’s Nest) belvedere. From this platform where this bird of prey is supposed to have bred, one can see the valley of Fajã da Nogueira, where some Manx shearwater breed, São Roque do Faial and a large part of the Central Mountain Range. We could already see the clouds coming so we had to be quick

To reach Pico Ruivo, we had to go around the Pico das Torres up a steep incline of steps carved in the rock and then descend, the most difficult part of this trail being the final climb to the Shelter at Pico Ruivo. But the thought of reaching the highest point of the island is a driving force.

madeira Pico Ruivo Pico do Arieiro

The weather on the first half of the “pinnacle stage” was perfect but the rest was super cloudy. We could hardly see anything. For this part, you will need a headlamp because you have to cross a few tunnels which are pretty long and dark.

This was the first trail where it was a bit crowed, in comparison to the other trails.

Finally we reach the restaurant at the other side, which was closed. –damn

madeira summit

You can continue to Boca da Encumeada directly but we decided to take the detour to the top of Madeira. It is just a 200m climb, which will take about 40min in total. For us no worth it because, of the bad weather conditions.

Still 11.4km in front of us and nearly no water. Located pretty much in the center of Madeira, Boca da Encumeada separates the wet north of the island from its dry south. It also separates the central mountain range from the high plateau Paul da Serra. Three roads intersect in the saddle so that it is easily reachable. Before the advent of cars and roads, Boca da Encumeada already was the most important pass on the island so that quite a number of caminos start here.

madeira fire

It is one of the most scenic tours of this scenic island, naturally assuming that you do it in fine weather. The best time of day is the early morning, when trade wind clouds haven’t started pouring across the ridge yet. However, hiking the route takes half a day one way so that you must prepare for fog.

Bella had the brilliant idea to ration the water reserves. Also our food reserves weren’t looking good, a lot of soup, which wasn’t helping at this point and one cereal bar.

madeira hiking path

I don’t have a lot of memory about the part. Just that Bella always said, we still have one climb in front of us (200m). We just walked, walked and walked.

Unfortunately Bella hurt her knee and she had to take a lot of pain killers. It wasn’t getting better.

Gruesome 6 hours later, there wasn’t any energy left.Finally, we heard some water splatter. A spring, it was like a mirage. Thank you Pico de Ferreira.

madeira fonte do pico do ferreira
madeira hiking path trail

We refilled all our water reveres and made a long a well-deserved break. All the energy, which we lost during the last hours came back slowly. The only problem was, where will we sleep tonight? The path was simply too narrow to pitch our tent.

Another hour later we found a spot and again it was perfect (1km before the trail ends). Directly on the ridge. On the one side we could see Serra de Agua and on the other Sao Vicente. The sun was coming out, too. What a day and we even beat the black trail (Rother Trekking Guide).  We even could see Paul da Serra, tomorrow destination.

madeira wanderlust

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