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Hike, Canyon and Kayak in Madeira

Uncover the 'Hawaii of Europe' on this island adventure through subtropical forests, wild canyons and the mighty Atlantic

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Trip Ref #10682

Hike, Canyon and Kayak in Madeira

Uncover the 'Hawaii of Europe' on this island adventure through subtropical forests, wild canyons and the mighty Atlantic

DURATION

5 nights

LOCATION

Madeira

ANNUAL LEAVE

4 days off work

SEASON

Year round

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Funchal

ACCOMMODATION

Comfort

Hotel

OVERALL RATING

0.0

This trip is brand new
DIFFICULTY

Moderate

This adventure will keep you on the move, but there is nothing too strenuous that can't be managed by anyone with average fitness

Unleash the adrenaline as you go canyoning in the heart of Madeira's Laurisilva forest and abseil down a 25m waterfall

Hike among volcanic peaks and lush levadas to wild swim spots, dazzling ocean views and an unforgettable sunrise at the island's highest point – Pico Ruivo (1862m)

Marvel at Ponta de São Lourenço from the water as you paddle along this unique peninsula, eyes peeled for dolphins

Relax in comfy hotels with sea views, mountain vistas and swimming pools after each day of adventuring

Day 1

Touch down in Madeira – the 'island of eternal spring'

Catch your first glimpse of the subtropical Madeiran archipelago from the plane, then meet your host and transfer to your hotel in Funchal, the island's vibrant capital. Framed by a dramatic backdrop of lush, cloud-tipped mountains on the island's south coast, the city unfolds over a series of steep hills and terraces, overlooking the Atlantic. There's quite a lot to explore in Funchal, including a colourful local market, exotic gardens, historic alleys, and an epic toboggan ride – so if you have some extra time to hand, it's a great spot to extend your stay and explore. Tonight, your guide will take you somewhere local to taste some delicious food and tell you all about the epic adventure ahead.

Day 2

Explore the central mountains

Hiking

5hrs · 12km · 150m up · 600m down

Kick off your island adventure with a superb hike through Madeira's wild, mountainous interior. Setting off from Bica da Cana viewpoint at 1600m, you'll gradually descend the stunning PR17 trail along levadas (the island's unique irrigation channels), hiking through verdant, high-altitude vegetation – including the native UNESCO-protected Laurisilva forests. Trek through tunnels and duck underneath a couple of cascades to reach your final destination in Encumeada, where you can soak in the views over Ribeira Brava and the towering peaks of the Cordillera Central. Your home for the next two nights is an ocean-front hotel in quaint Sao Vicente – a gem of a village on the island's wild northern coast – and tonight, you'll taste some of Madeira's traditional wines paired with cheese. Cheers!

Day 3

Canyoning and wild waterfalls

Canyoning

3-4hrs

Dotted with hidden lagoons, cascading falls and ancient laurel forests, Madeira is truly a canyoning paradise. Get ready for a soaking today as you head to Ribeira do Lajeado for an exhilarating adventure in these 'Jurassic World' surroundings. Begin by hiking along the Levada do Alecrim through the dense Laurisilva forest, then continue by scrambling, jumping, sliding and abseiling (up to 25m) your way across the network of trails, river systems and secluded natural pools, alongside your expert canyoning guide. Look over the Vento and Risco waterfalls in the distance, then hike back, grab some lunch and head back to your hotel in Sao Vincente. This afternoon you can choose to visit some volcanic caves dating back hundreds of thousands of years and uncover the geology of the island.

Day 4

Coastal hike to the natural pools at Porto Moniz

Hiking

5-6hrs · 10km · 600m up · 600m down

Take a short transfer to Achadas da Cruz, the most westerly point of Madeira, then descend down to the traditional village of Fajá da Quebrada Nova via a steep 2km trail, or via an equally vertical cable car ride. Whichever you choose, the coastal views will be truly mesmerising. Once home to an agricultural community, many of the old traditional buildings are now abandoned, giving the place a nostalgic charm. Continue hiking along the beach and then along the Vereda de Tristao River to Porto Moniz. Reward your efforts with a refreshing swim in the incredible tidal pools, then transfer to your final base – the charming village of Santana, famous for its iconic, triangular, thatched roof houses.

Day 5

Kayak and spot dolphins in Ponta de São Lourenço

Kayaking

2hrs · 7km

Wildlife Watching

2.5hrs

Get ready for an epic day as you head out to explore the sea around Madeira's eastern tip. Ponta de São Lourenço is a peninsula of volcanic origin, where a semi-arid climate and exposure to northern winds cause the vegetation to be unusually low and absent of trees – a stark contrast with the rest of the island. Join a local marine biologist aboard a high-speed boat, keeping your eyes peeled for the abundant marine life: sightings of common and bottlenose dolphins, as well as loggerhead turtles, are common, and sometimes sperm whales. After lunch, grab a kayak for a paddle around the crystalline waters of this incredible nature reserve. Back in Santana, enjoy a final meal with your fellow adventurers and guide, then get some rest ahead of your final day of adventure tomorrow.

Day 6

Sunrise views above the clouds

Hiking

3hrs · 6km · 280m up · 280m down

You can't leave Madeira without witnessing the dazzling views from its highest point – Pico Ruivo (1862m). This morning you'll rise early – before dawn – for a short but incredibly rewarding hike that will take you to the roof of the island. Head torch on, you'll set off along the cobbled trail towards the peak. The view at the top will leave you speechless as you contemplate the golden sun rising above the clouds, with incredible views on the mountain ridge and far into the valley towards the ocean (weather permitting!). If you're leaving today, your host will then drive you back to the airport in time for your flight back home. Boa viagem!

Included

Guides

Local, expert, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

5 nights in comfortable, locally-run hotels

Meals

All breakfasts, 4 packed lunches and 2 dinners – plus a traditional wine tasting

Transfers

Two set airport transfers and everything in between

Equipment

All your canyoning and kayaking gear

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 4

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Savour the delights of Madeira's cuisine with fresh produce and a wide variety of regional dishes. Most days, breakfasts will be continental style – consisting of bread, butter, local jams, fruit, pastries, cheese, ham, tea, coffee and juices. For lunch, expect freshly prepared lunch boxes with delicious sandwiches, cake and fruit. Evening meals are included on Days 1 and 5, and on the remaining evenings you can choose from several authentic local restaurants recommended by your host, where you can feast on local dishes such as traditional espetadas (beef skewers), grilled fish, fresh seafood, garlic bread or hearty, homemade soups.

Vegetarian diets can be accommodated, although veggie or vegan diets are not common in rural Madeira so meal options can be repetitive. Other dietary requirements are mostly possible to cater for – please let your host know any requirements upon booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Funchal

Spend your first night at a comfortable hotel in Funchal, Madeira's capital. You'll usually stay at the central 3-star Hotel do Carmo, featuring modern rooms, a 1960s-style bar with a snooker table and a lovely rooftop terrace with a swimming pool, boasting great views over the Atlantic Ocean and mountains. Departures on the 18th November and 16th December 2023 will be accommodated at the 4-star Hotel Turim Santa Maria whilst on the 20th April and 4th May 2024 you'll stay at the 4-star Enotel Magnolia. Your host will always confirm all the final accommodation details with you in a pre-departure message a few weeks prior to travelling.

Sao Vincente

You'll spend two nights at a new property on Madeira's wild northern coast, in the quaint ocean-front village of Sao Vincente. The Mediterraneo Hotel features comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool with a bar and sea views, as well as a spa tub.

Santana

For the final two nights of the trip you'll stay at Hotel O Colmo, located in the historic centre of Santana – known for its colourful thatched roofed houses, which are just a few metres away from your doorstep. Surrounded by nature, the hotel provides a tranquil retreat with beautiful views of the mountains and ocean. The property also features an indoor pool and spa.

Upgrades

Due to the limited capacity and availability of the hotels where you'll be staying, private room upgrades are not available for this trip. All rooms will be booked on a twin-share basis (or double, for couples).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Funchal Hotel

17:00

Ends

Funchal Airport (FNC)

10:00

Transfers

If you are flying into Funchal on Day 1, please ensure your flight lands by 17:00 in order to meet your host and the rest of the group in time for the initial briefing and dinner. There is one set arrival transfer included – this is usually at 17:00, however, your host will confirm the exact time and logistics ahead of your arrival. If you arrive early, or later, it's easy to make your own way to the start hotel in Funchal either by public bus (30mins, €3-5), or by taxi (20 minutes, approx. €15-20).

Please note that on departures 18th November and 16th December 2023 the start hotel will be the 4-star Turim Santa Maria whilst on the 20th April and 4th May 2024 you'll stay at the 4-star Enotel Magnolia, instead of Hotel do Carmo in Funchal. Your host will always confirm all the final details with you in a pre-departure message a few weeks prior to travelling.

At the end of your trip, you will be dropped at the airport, usually at around 10:00. We recommend booking a flight that departs after 12:00 to ensure you have enough time to join the final sunrise hike. If you are extending your trip and wish to be dropped off in Funchal city centre instead of the airport on Day 6, you can request this with your local host – there may be a small fee to pay, depending on the number of fellow travellers who share this service. Once you have booked your flights, please provide your host with this information.

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 don't hesitate to contact them for advice before planning your experience.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • All your canyoning gear
  • Tandem sit-on-top kayaks, paddles and life vests

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for rucksack
  • Small drybags, if you want to take your phone with you on the water-based activities

CLOTHES

  • Hiking boots (worn in)
  • Sports shoes that you don’t mind getting wet (for the canyoning)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or a jumper
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Sandals or flip-flops

OTHER

  • Headtorch
  • Snorkelling gear (optional)
  • 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)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Two reusable water bottles x1 litre
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks

Additional Night in Funchal Twin/Double Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Funchal Twin/Double Room

Additional Night in Funchal Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Funchal Single Room

Private arrival transfer Funchal Airport - Funchal Hotel (1-4 pax)

Payable Before Departure

Private arrival transfer Funchal Airport - Funchal Hotel (1-4 pax)

Private departure transfer Santana - Funchal Airport (1-4 pax)

Payable Before Departure

Private departure transfer Santana - Funchal Airport (1-4 pax)

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.

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 134kg 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 2023 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.

All of the activities on this trip can be done without any previous experience – you'll have expert guides to show you the ropes and help you navigate the kayaking and canyoning. Although each day is not overly strenuous, you'll be fairly active for a few hours so the trip is best enjoyed if you have a decent level of fitness and agility, and if you enjoy the outdoors with some moments of adventure and adrenaline.

The hikes are up and down paths of moderate difficulty with some occasional steep, loose sections as well as some exposed paths. The sweeping views and lush wilderness of Madeira will reward every effort!

Canyoning will involve sections of hiking, scrambling, abseiling, optional jumps, sliding and swimming. Full gear and tuition will be provided, all you need is a basic fitness level. You should, however, be comfortable in the water and not be overly afraid of heights, as there is a 25m rappelling section to tackle.

Kayaking will involve a relatively gentle 2-3 hour paddle along the stunning Madeiran coastline, with plenty of opportunities for (optional) swimming breaks along the way.

Sure can! Over 70% 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 in 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. 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 at higher altitudes, so it's important to come equipped for all weather conditions year-round (see our kit list for more information). In the winter months (between December and March), temperatures hover just under 20° C, mild enough to swim in the sea or a heated outdoor pool, though there's a slightly higher possibility of rain.

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 activity.

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 a possibility at any time of the year – especially at higher altitudes (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 should the weather get particularly bad. The kayaking and dolphin-watching tours are, of course, dependent on favourable sea conditions – should these get cancelled, your host will replace them with some hiking in the Sao Lourenco peninsula, an equally stunning way to experience the beauty of this side of the island.

Canyoning usually takes place at Ribeira do Lajeado, however the exact location will be dependent on water levels which will be checked beforehand by the local guides. If conditions in Lajeado are not optimum, your guides will take you to an alternative canyon on the island.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

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.

Full Financial Protection

Your money is safe. Every booking is fully financially protected.

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