HF Holidays    Teachers Travel 
Guided Winter Walking & Sightseeing

in Madeira, Portugal


Day 0  Saturday   Depart Toronto on overnight flight on SATA Air Azores to Madeira (via Ponta  Delgada Azores).  (Air fare not included in the cost)

Day 1 - Sunday 
  Arrive Funchal Airport at 11 AM and transfer to the Galosol Hotel (about 20 minutes).   The Galo Resort offers many activities with yoga, fitness classes, gym, rental bikes, snorkelling, aqua-fit and a spa.  The historic town of Funchal is just a 20 minute bus ride away and here are found lovely botanic gardens, whale/dolphin watching tours,  markets selling exotic fruits and flowers and wineries where you can sample Madeira wine. 

Day 2 - Monday    In the morning there is an optional tour of some of the lovely gardens in the nearby Funchal region.  Madeira is known as "the island of eternal spring" because of its moderate climate. Winston Churchill was a frequent visitor and called it "God's Floating Garden".  Flowers bloom year-round  and in winter you will be amazed at the botanical wonders. 
Later in the day you will meet the HF walk leaders who will describe the upcoming walks. In the evening the hotel has entertainment. 

Day 3  Tuesday  Choice of two guided walks

Easier Walk: We first visit the famous high cliff of Cabo Girao (Europe’s second highest sea cliff) for views and a little excitement. Test your nerve on the glass floored viewing platform high above the sea and vineyards below. After coffee we continue by coach to start our first levada walk on the Levada do Norte. This levada gives us splendid views out to sea and leads us eventually to viewpoints over the dramatic gorge of the Ribeira Brava. 7.5 miles (12 km) with minimal ascent and descent.

Harder Walk: We also visit the Cabo Girao and after visiting the viewing platform will commence a descent to Levado do Facho, with views over vineyards and the town of Camara de Lobos. After a short walk through a levada tunnel and the western side of the Cabo Girao promontory we join the start of the easier walk to Boa Morte and views of the Ribeira Brava gorge. 11 miles (18km) with 130ft (40m) of ascent

Day 4 Wednesday  Sightseeing plus easy walking
Our transport will take us into the capital, Funchal, where a local guide will take us on a tour of this small, pretty city to include the cathedral, the colourful Mercado dos Labradores and the famous Blandy’s Winery, home of Madeira wine, with an opportunity to taste the products. In the afternoon, we travel by cable car to the village of Monte, the site of the famous Monte Palace Gardens, Monte Church and the toboggan run. We pass through a deep gorge before joining the Levada dos Tornos for a short walk through forest and farmland, ending at a traditional tearoom.

Day 5  Thursday  Choice of two guided walks
Our walks today take us to the western end of the island. We travel past Funchal and enter the Ribeira Brava Gorge. The coach will then take us high onto the western moors. This end of the island differs greatly from the high volcanic peaks in the east. Here rolling moorland offers views over the sea in both directions on a clear day.

Easier Walk: Today’s walk follows a gentle levada path to a lovely viewpoint over the hills and woods of Rabacal before descending to Levada das 25 Fontes which will lead us via a tunnel through a mountain ridge to meet our coach. 8 miles (13km) with 100ft (30m) of ascent and 1,000ft (300m) of descent

Harder Walk: We head off on the Levada da Bica da Cana to reach a higher viewpoint to the East. Returning via our outward route we shall pick up the route of the easier walk to Rabacal , the Levada das 25 Fontes and then via the tunnel to the coach pick-up. 9.5 miles (15km) with 260ft (80m) of ascent and 1,000 ft (300m) of descent

Day 6  Friday  Free day   Enjoy the many fitness activities at the hotel or an optional whale watching tour. Friday is market day so you can visit the Funchal farmers' market to sample  tropical fruit such as custard apple, guava and oranges fresh from the tree.  Tasting your way through the town can include sampling passionfruit pudding or bolo de mel (honey cake) and , of course, Madeira wine.

Day 7  Saturday  Choice of two guided walks
Easier Walk: Our walk starts on the Poiso Moors and offers the opportunity to reach a ridge with fine views of the Central Highlands. We continue to the fire tower on Pico do Suna. Our walk then descends to the waterhouse at Lamaceiros where we have the opportunity to visit an exciting stretch of the Levada do Furado. After lunch we descend to the village of Portela for drinks and our coach home. 7 miles (11km) with 300ft (90m) of ascent and 2,000ft (600m) of descent

Harder Walk:  We take a section of a high level path, the Camino Real which crosses the island from north to south, finishing in the village of Encumeada for well-earned refreshments. This is considered one of the finest hikes on the island.  10 miles (16 km) with 900ft (270m) of ascent and 2,000ft (600m) of descent

Day 6 Sunday  Choice of two guided walks
Easier Walk: This group will travel through the Canical Tunnel to the town of Canical and on to the most easterly point of the island, the St Laurence Peninsula. The walk here gives us great views of both the northern and southern cliffs and fine views out to sea. After lunch we return by coach to Canical with an opportunity to visit a café and/or the Whaling Museum, before returning to our hotel. 5 miles (8km) with 600ft (180m) of ascent.

Harder Walk: Today we’ll travel east from our hotel to start our walk at the Canical Tunnel. Here we climb steadily towards the viewpoint on Pico do Facho (ascent to the viewpoint is optional). We then embark on a splendid coastal path towards the port of Canical, enjoying great views of the sea and coastline. After refreshments in Canical we rejoin our coach to reach the start point of the easier walk along the St. Lawrence peninsula. 8 miles (13km) with 1,000ft (300m) of ascent.

Day 9 Monday  and Day 10 Tuesday
There are many interesting things to do.  Take a bus into Funchal to visit the tropical gardens.  At the Funchal docks you can sign up for a whale and dolphin watching tour.  You could explore Funchal's Old Town with its cobblestone streets and a 15th century church.  An exploration of the town might include lunch sampling Madeiran specialties like a "prego"  (a steak or fish sandwich using  grilled "bolo do caco" bread  smeared with garlic butter and cheese and served warm). Try it with a glass of Madeira wine and follow it with some passionfruit ice-cream.  Or you could just relax on your balcony and enjoy the weather knowing that you will be soon be returning to winter.    

Day 11  Wednesday    Air Azores departs from Funchal at 12.00 and arrives in Toronto at 18.35 (via Punta del Gada Azores). 

In the evenings the hotel often has live entertainment... perhaps a Fado singer or folklore show.  On one evening there is a speaker who lectures about Madeira and its history. There is an opportunity one evening to visit Funchal as a group and walk along the promenade followed by listening to some live music.

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Madeira Accommodation
Cost Itinerary
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