Travels

Madeira West Route: Porto Moniz and Sao Vicente

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One second trip to Madeira Island it has helped me to confirm that we only have "partial visions"of the places we visited and there is always something new to discover. If in the first, the Eastern route (including levadas), the Route of the Viewpoints and the attractions what to see in Funchal I was fascinated, this article by West Madeira route is a perfect climax for those who, instead of 5 days, extend their stay some extra day. Here, the intense green of theInland Laurisilva forests, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, contrast with those blue tones left by the Natural pools of Porto Moniz or Seixal, not forgetting the fascinating underground world of caves of Sao Vicente.


The day, as always, would begin around 9'00 in the morning ... and in Madeira you can plant yourself on the other side of the island without the need for big early rises.

Route through the west of Madeira ... passing through the forests of Laurisilva

How could it be otherwise, by not having a car (you can see how to rent it in), we have resorted to that jeep tour to cross impracticable roads or reach points on the island that could not be done otherwise. You already know that you can choose between 4 types offull-day Jeep tours around the island. Our route today will be similar to the following ...


We had already enjoyed the southern part near Funchal on the day of the Route of the Viewpoints. It seems incredible that they could fit infrastructures to communicate such a complex volcanic island. The whole island is connected by large viaducts that look for impossible paths and tunnels that eat the mountain like worms, especially inland



In the coastal area, one feels small before these imposing cliffs that give rise to the most exceptional viewpoints in Europe ... and others more improvised as our First stop on Ribeira Brava


The roads that take you through the valleys and mountains of the interior are no less scenic. The contrasts occur every few kilometers leaving rivers, terraces and small embedded towns that, from the distance, seem isolated and inaccessible



I have always recognized that Madeira had never called my attention before my first trip ... How wrong I was! Madeira is one of those nearby paradises of a thousand landscapes that, combined with Porto Santo for those who want a beach, makes it clear that it is not necessary to go to the other end of the world to find what we are looking for.


Our first goal today begins in the more than 1,000 meters of the central mountain massif.



Throughout this area the old "Camino Real" paved, one of the main roads of the interior since past times and that today allow a small walk along the levada that leads to the plateau of Paul da Serra




This type of Madeira's unique irrigation canal has a second peculiarity and that is that we are in full Laurisilva forest, an exceptional relic of a type of laurel forest very abundant in the past and today is practically extinct. It is possible that UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site in 1999




In addition to the unique set of plant species in which it is constituted, it is worth mentioning that it is the habitat of some endemic animal species such as the wood pigeon, Madeira's finch, Madeira's common buzzard, the Kestrel or the Madeira Cascade washer .

Illhéus da Ribeira da Janela, the "trolls" of Madeira

Leaving aside the Pico Grande and Serra d'Água, our road returns to the asphalt to access the Northwest area of ​​the island.



A series of rock formations near the coast that includes a pinnacle up to 40 meters high does not go unnoticed. We are in Illhéus da Ribeira da Janela, other completely different scenario of an island that discovers secrets every few kilometers


We do not miss the opportunity to literally "cross" the rock. A small path that begins on stairs and enters the rock allows us access to the sea side.



Just a few days ago in Iceland I was unable to describe that Reynisfjara Black Beach near the cliffs of Dyrholaey. Perhaps the Icelanders were not so wrong and such formations could be considered true "trolls" but much further south


The set consists of three rocks. The one on the left is Ilheuzinho, the one on the right is called Ilheu da Rama and the middle, the pinnacle of almost 13 stories high, is called Ilhéu Alto ou Ilhéu Compressed and in its upper part it has a gap in the rock similar to a window that is said to give its name to the place ... Ribeira da Janela.



Luck has also led us to see the singular also Madeira lizard (most endemic fauna are birds)



It is native to the island although it seems that it was introduced in the mid-nineteenth century in the Azores and is now also seen in areas near Lisbon

The natural pools of Porto Moniz and Seixal

Hunger squeezes and the excursion approaches Porto Moniz. Does it sound to you? This town is famous for housing the safest port on the island.


But our gaze is set elsewhere, a restaurant that with its name (Sea View) gives you a great description of the place where you will be with a beautiful panoramic view of the famous natural pools of Porto Moniz accompanied by the best fresh produce of the sea (remember that we have told you more about the gastronomy in)



Porto Moniz still shelters remnants of its past, the Fort of João Batista dated from 1730 that protected them from the assaults of the pirates although all of us are quickly seeing their appetizers natural pools formed by volcanic lava where salt water enters inside.


Going a few kilometers along the coastal panoramic route we also find the Seixal population, an excellent alternative With less tourism where to find volcanic rock pools with curious shapes.



Of course, some bathroom fell although we are still in April and the water is still very cold lol

The caves of Sao Vicente, the place where Madeira was "born"

The spectacular coast also does not leave indifferent in this North part of the island with the mountains a few meters from the sea. It is on this tour where one of Madeira's famous waterfalls is located, the so-called Veil Brides It starts at the top of the mountain and falls directly into the sea leaving a white foam reminiscent of a wedding veil (hence the name).



The afternoon begins to fall on Madeira and it is time to return to Funchal. However, we have an essential visit to understand the island, some caves with a lot of meaning



The Sao Vicente caves is one of those places to visit that we have included in and is, without a doubt, a place that does not leave you indifferent. It is a series of 8 tunnels with more than 1,000 meters long that have remained intact since its formation 400,000 years ago! when lava formed unusual underground pipes, discovered in 1886 and today are the object of study for scientists.




With a Volcanism Center that takes care of them, there is a Guided tour since 1996 of around 700 meters (about 30 minutes of travel) which is like a time travel and ideal for children (in the center there is also an elevator that simulates a trip to the center of the earth)

SCHEDULES AND PRICES OF THE CAO VICENTE CAVES:

He Visiting hours to this place it is possible every day of the year except on December 25 from 10 am to 7 pm
his price It is 8 EUR for adults, 6 EUR for children between 5 and 14 years and retired and FREE for children under 5 years.

And what can be seen inside? Impressive geological formations, volcanic stalactites, lava accumulations or lava bolus and several galleries, the largest and most spectacular being the so-called Lake Two Wishes.



The caves of Sao Vicente are an essential place for those who wish to understand the Origin and evolution of the Madeira archipelago. The day has been one of the most complete and that we have arrived in Funchal around 18'00. Laurisilva forests, viewpoints, levadas, rock formations such as Illhéus da Ribeira da Janela or the natural pools of Porto Moniz and Seixal, are some of the mandatory visits of a route through the west of the island of Madeira. Which one did you like the most?


Isaac, from Madeira (Portugal)

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