Portugal – Madeira Island VIII
Use the restaurant with a bare as the place of navigation in Poiso. Right next to it there is a serpentine road leading up to 1818 meters of altitude which is the third highest summit of Madeira - Pico do Arieiro. The highest peak is called Pico Ruivo (1861 m). The middle summit is Pico das Torres (1851 m). They are called the guardians of the island. Even though they measure 1800 meters in height, this is only a third of the entire height of the massif. These mountains are home to the Fulmar of Madeira, an endangered bird species for which Centro Freira da Madeira ornitolocigal station was established to support reproduction of the species. There is also an exhibition, various photographs, or a movie on local fauna and flora.
The vistas over the massif are amazing. Those who set off to the neighboring summit have to count with sudden changes in weather. This is nothing unusual here. Still, it can take longer than expected to finish eaither 7-kilometer or the 5,6-kilometer trail between the summits. There are two trails up to the highest summit. The shorter goes through tunnels. The longer across the middle summit. Sunny weather usually means that people choose to go across the middle summit there and through tunnels back. It is necessary to have good shoes, something to cover your head with (or ears because it is windy there), a flashlight, and walking sticks. There is significant elevation. And there are many steps.
Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of Madeira, is accessible via much more comfortable, safer, and shorter route. It starts at Achada do Teixeira car park behind Santana. It depends on your physical condition and time you want to spend walking it. There is a radar below Pico do Arierio summit. It controls Portuguese air traffic over Madeira. This hemisphere is really easy to spot. It is situated within a fenced area. you will pass it when going to the highest summit. Formerly, there was a military space.
Refreshments, and a souvenir shop with restrooms are at the ornitological center. On your way down to Poiso crossroad, we make a stop at a stone igloo. It is situated on your right side behidn the turn. It is called the "freezer of Madeira". Fromerly, ice cubicles were produced there and the rich of Funchal bought them to their fridges. There was the most favorable climate to build an igloo for the temperatures go below zero and sometimes it snows there whereas at the seaboard it ranges usually between 15–20 °C in winter.
We continue further to Ribeiro Frio. It names comes after a cold stream. We stop at a trout farm. They use levadas to breed trouts for fresh water still streams through them. They serve meals at local restaurant which are based on trouts. Also, this area is known for laurel self-irrigating forests, and the area known as Laurisilva. It is almost from 100% covered by original forests. These are very important from the perspective of biology. Flora and endemic fauna have preserved there as well. The ecosystem of the nature park is strictly protected. The processes there have been subject to many researches.
Near from there, there is the entrance to Furado-Portela levada. Below is a road which takes you up to the famous Balcoes outlook. It takes about an hour to go there and back. This romantic places is beautiful. Birds sing above your head and mountains seem to be just at your fingertips. We return to this place in some other part. There is still a road to Santana and to the volcanic center of Grutas Sao Vicente ahead of us.
GPS: (Pico Ruivo) 32°45'32.1"N 16°56'41.7"W
Text and photos: Monika Babická
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