Adventures / Wild Hikes

Coast to Coast Traverse of Madeira

An epic island trek among lush forests, across towering mountains and along dramatic cliffs plunging into the Atlantic

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Trip Ref #10540

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Coast to Coast Traverse of Madeira

An epic island trek among lush forests, across towering mountains and along dramatic cliffs plunging into the Atlantic

DURATION

6 nights

LOCATION

Madeira

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days off work

SEASON

Year round

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Machico

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

You’ll need to be fit and capable of hiking for up to 8 hours a day, up paths of moderate difficulty, with some steep and exposed sections

Hike the three highest peaks on Madeira, topping out on Pico Ruivo (1862m) - the roof of the island

Trek misty trails through the ancient laurel trees of the island's unique, UNESCO-listed primary forest

Zig-zag along narrow pathways, steep staircases and eerie tunnels to astonishing viewpoints as you traverse ‘the Hawaii of Europe’

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Local, English-speaking mountain guide

Accommodation

5 nights in a hotel or guesthouse and 1 in a mountain hut

Meals

All breakfasts, packed lunches and dinners

Transfers

Transfers between hikes and final transfer from the hotel to the airport

Luggage transfer

Vehicle support to take your overnight kit

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Machico White Waters Hotel

Check-in from 2pm

Ends

Funchal Airport (FNC)

1pm on Day 7

Transfers

If you are flying into Funchal on Day 1, please ensure your flight lands by 6pm to meet your host and the rest of the group in time for the initial briefing and dinner. There is no arrival transfer included in the trip but it's easy to make your own way to the start hotel in Machico. It's short drive away from the airport by taxi (5 minutes, approx. €8) or by local bus (10-15 mins, approx. €3). Your host will give you further info about the meeting point and time prior to the trip.

At the end of your trip, you will be dropped at the airport around 1pm. We recommend booking a flight that departs after 3pm in order to enjoy a morning at leisure in Porto Moniz. If you are extending your trip and wish to be dropped off in Funchal city centre instead of the airport on Day 7 this will be possible free of charge. Once you have booked your flights, please provide your host with this information, who will plan logistics.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Funchal from major airports across the UK and Europe. If you choose to arrive early, there are regular buses across the island that you can use to explore. Our local host has a wealth of information about accommodation and activities - please do not hesitate to contact them for advice before planning your experience.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Mountain hut · Same sex dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5 – Day 6

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Savour the delights of Madeira gastronomy, with fresh produce and a wide variety of regional dishes offered by your accommodation hosts or cooked with love at the mountain hut and campsites. Breakfasts most days will be continental style, consisting of tea and coffee, bread, butter, local jams, fruit, pastries, cheese, ham and juices. For lunch expect freshly prepared lunch boxes with gourmet sandwiches, cake and fruit. Dinners will be eaten at the hotels or local restaurants. You’ll feast on local dishes such as traditional 'Espetadas' (beef skewers), grilled fish, seafood, garlic bread and hearty homemade soups.

Vegetarian, vegan and most dietary requirements can be accommodated, please just let your host know upon booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Seaside hotels and rural guesthouses

For 5 nights you'll stay in comfortable family-run hotels or rural guesthouses either in the interior of the island surrounded by mountains or down by the coast, walking distance from the sea. Rooms come with en-suite facilities and wi-fi. You’ll usually stay at White Waters Hotel in Machico, Bela Vista Hotel in Porto da Cruz, Estalagem A Quinta in Santo da Serra, Estalagem Encumeada and Hotel Euro Moniz in Porto Moniz. On some departures, subject to availability, your host may book alternative accommodation of similar standards.

Pico Ruivo Mountain Hut

Enjoy the incredible opportunity to snooze at the highest mountain hut in Madeira - Casa de Abrigo Pico Ruivo, thanks to the special permit arranged exclusively for the local host. Facilities at the hut are basic and include shared toilets and complimentary warm blankets. Dinner and breakfast will be cooked by the local staff at the hut.

Day 1

Welcome to Madeira - The 'Pearl of the Atlantic'

Catch your first glimpse of the beautiful Madeira archipelago as you approach Funchal airport, then make your way to your hotel in Machico Bay. It was here that Portuguese explorers first ‘discovered’ the island in 1419. Head out to soak up some afternoon sunshine, enjoy your first swim in the ocean or climb up to one of the viewpoints to admire the views over the bay. Later, you’ll meet your guide and fellow adventurers for dinner and hear all about the challenge ahead.

Day 2

Cliff trails and coastal views

Hiking

5hrs · 14km · 250m up · 380m down

Setting off from your doorstep you’ll follow a quiet trail along Madeira's traditional irrigation channels. Climb up to the crest of Boca do Risco and follow the insanely spectacular trail zig-zagging along vertical cliffs all the way down to the shores of Porto da Cruz. You’ll negotiate some short exposed sections and see some of the best views in Madeira - think lush greenery, dense forest, wildflowers and vistas of the ocean blue beneath - often likened to Jurassic Park or Hawaii. Enjoy a drink or two in one of Porto da Cruz’s local cafes and celebrate the first stage of your island traverse.

Day 3

Into the UNESCO-listed Laurisilva Forest

Hiking

7hrs · 17km · 850m up

Today's hike is an adventurous ascent through Madeira's enchanted UNESCO laurel forest. Start the day with a gentle climb and sweeping views towards the ocean and the iconic Penha D’Aguia (Eagle Rock). Soon the trail dives deeper into the forest and you’ll hike immersed in lush green surroundings, amongst wildflowers, ferns and giant trees. Learn about the local wildlife, eyes open for the rare endemic long-toed pigeon. Relax in your rural accommodation in the peaceful village of Santo da Serra and finish the day over a hearty meal and local wine.

Day 4

To the island's roof

Hiking

7hrs · 12km · 1000m up · 650m down

Fuel up with breakfast and then hit the trails again. Today you'll hike Madeira's exhilarating PR1 path, traversing the island's three highest peaks – Pico do Arieiro (1817m), Pico das Torres (1851m) and Pico Ruivo (1862m). This unforgettable hike is the most famous on the island, and for good reason! The trail straddles high mountain ridgelines, narrow pathways, steep stairways, and man-made tunnels carved into rock which you'll negotiate with the use of a head torch. You’ll be surrounded by the best mountain scenery Madeira has to offer. The hike culminates at the island's highest peak, Pico Ruivo, which you'll reach just in time for golden hour. Kick off your boots and enjoy a night on Madeira's roof, admiring the starlit sky with a drink and snoozing in the highest mountain hut on the island.

Day 5

Above the clouds

Hiking

5hrs · 12km · 500 up · 1200m down

Wake up early to catch the golden sun rising and breaking through the carpet of clouds as far as the eyes can see. Then set off on a spectacular hike over peaks, along the mountainous central massif, surrounded by the Laurisilva Forest and cascading waterfalls. Admire the majestic valleys of Curral das Freiras, climbing onto an exposed ridgeline that provides sweeping views across a stunning and less-trodden part of the island. Enjoy a well-deserved afternoon at leisure surrounded by the green mountains of Encumeada or hop in a taxi to visit the enchanting seaside town of São Vicente.

Day 6

Paradise found

Hiking

8hrs · 18km · 800m up · 1250m down

What goes up must come down. Lace up your boots and commence the big descent to Madeira's north coast. You’ll hike through the magical UNESCO-listed Fanal Forest, surrounded by centenary trees, often covered by mysterious fog. Reach Seixal Beach in the afternoon, and enjoy a celebratory dip against an impressive backdrop of towering cliffs, volcanic black sand and thundering waterfalls - paradise found? Take a short drive and spend your final night in the seaside village of Porto Moniz, toasting the end of your epic island adventure with new friends.

Day 7

Goodbye Madeira!

Congratulations, you've just traversed Madeira island. Spend the morning relaxing with a lie in or soothe your muscles with a refreshing dip in the tidal lava-rock pools of Porto Moniz. Swim, explore, snorkel or just hang out before your host takes you back to the airport in time for your flight home.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for rucksack / drybags

CLOTHES

  • Hiking boots (worn in)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts / skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • At least one warm layer
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Sandals

OTHER

  • Headtorch
  • Hiking poles (recommended)
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Double/Twin Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Double/Twin Room

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Single Room

Additional Night in Machico Double/Twin Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Machico Double/Twin Room

Additional Night in Machico Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Machico Single Room

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 153kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

This trek requires a good level of fitness. You must be capable of hiking all day up paths of moderate difficulty with steep, loose sections as well as some exposed paths (those with severe vertigo may struggle). There are a couple of very long days with some steady climbs which will make the going quite challenging in parts but the views along the way make the journey more than worthwhile. Those not able to or not wishing to complete some of the longer walks on Day 5 and 6 can opt to get a transfer and skip part of these (payable locally and arranged by your leader).

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

€ 20-30

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

The tap water on Madeira is safe to drink. Please bring along your own reusable water bottle to fill up at the hotels, public fountains and at restaurants to avoid buying single use plastic bottles.

Madeira enjoys a subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters, usually with sunshine throughout most of the year. The driest and hottest months are between June and September and the wettest period is between October and April. Whilst the south of the island and coast are usually sunnier, colder temperatures, fog, or low clouds can be expected in the interior of the island and high peaks so it's important to come equipped for all weather conditions (see our kit-list for more information).

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small rucksack to carry personal items during each day of hiking. On Day 4 the van will not be able to reach the mountain hut so you will need to pack and carry a day of clothing and other essential personal items in your daypack.

You can leave any excess luggage with your host for the duration of the adventure.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling to Portugal, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

The weather in the mountains can be pretty unpredictable with rain and cold temperatures likely at any time of the year and especially at higher altitude above 1500m. The best you can do is to be prepared for anything and come equipped with layers of clothing, sunscreen and waterproofs. Your host will be monitoring the weather conditions during the course of the trip and will suggest alternative, safer hiking routes or even alternative accommodation, should the weather get really bad.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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Pay In Installments

You can choose to pay for this trip in as many installments as you like, with no interest or fees.

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