Memories of Madeira

It is difficult for me to write a proper post on this glorious island as it has been nearly a decade since we last visited. So not only will things have changed but my memories will be snapshots rather than complete tales. However I have so enjoyed looking back through my photographic archives I thought I would share one or two photographs here.

We first visited the island of Madeira in February 2004 with my parents. I was in the middle of planning a round the world trip having just resigned from a stressful and challenging managerial role in the NHS. They suggested MrB and I joined them for a week on Madeira, and we thought why not! It was to be the start of a love affair with the island! We returned frequently over the next few years, staying in various hotels and self catering apartments in the south and south west.

Madeira is one of three main islands, the other two are Porto Santo and Desertas. They lie on the 32nd parallel north in the North Atlantic, around 320 miles west of Morocco. The archipelago is officially known as the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and the islands were first colonized by the Portuguese in the early 15th century.

Madeira is at the top of a massive volcano that rises about 20,000 ft from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and the highest point of the island is a further 6,100ft above sea level. It is around 35miles in length and 14miles at its widest point, but thanks to its mountainous features it feels much much larger. Although the downside of its volcanic shapes is that it is not an island for those who love beach holidays as there are very few places you can get close to the ocean, and even when you can they tend to be rocky!

View of Jardim do Mar

It is however a wonderful place if you love hiking, and I mean hiking rather than walking or strolling. Nearly all of the hikes are on or along side the 1,300 miles of levadas, these are narrow aqueducts which carry water from the wet north west to the much drier agricultural regions and populated areas in the south. Many of the levadas are cut into the sides of mountains, and some are even tunnels. Consequently they are not always the easiest things to walk along or beside, with many having warnings about being not suitable for those prone to vertigo, acrophobia or basophobia. They are even a couple of trails which apparently should only be attempted with torches and helmets! The good news though is that many of the more regular walking routes have now been upgraded to include rails and/or cemented paths, so for a one off stay on the island everyone should find somewhere to walk. I’ll see if I can track down some of my levada shots so I can share a few walks with you in another post.

Sunset from Lomba da Rocha

Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

32 thoughts

  1. It is a place I have wanted to visit for some time to escape the British winters. A lady at the Ludlow market used to go there every January and she thoroughly recommended it. I am not sure about the Levadas though and I know the OH wouldn’t cope with them, but the gardens sound wonderful.

  2. I have a photo almost identical to your opener, Becky 🙂 🙂 We were only there for a week and crammed in as much as we could of the island. It would be good to see more.

        1. All right for you to say so from a vantage point of a considerable number of years younger! It does scare me when I think how many ACTIVE years I might have left. Let’s hope it’s a lot, but when I look back at things that happened, say, 30 years ago they seem very close which puts it into perspective.

        2. I’m hopeful the pair of you are going to be like my mum with lots of active years ahead. Like her you walk lots and that seems to be key

  3. Becky, I hope you will share some of your levada hikings! It’s been exactly 10 years since I went last time with my grown children and mother. I love Madeira. I have a hiking book where I have hiked almost all of the tours on our five visits, and there are car tours too. But ten years ago we had a terrible flight over there, and tightly escaped a crash when landing, because of a storm. In fact I haven’t had that much of wanting to go since that trip. But I am sure your photos will spark it anew!

    1. What walks you must have had, but yikes on the landing. The current runway is a huge improvement on the previous one, but even so not a place i would like to land in the middle of a storm. I will do my best to spark your interest anew

  4. You should come back when it’s possible….you will be amazed at all the changes that have occurred ….as well as just how many ‘beaches’ we now have here on this magical little island that I am so lucky to call ‘home’

    1. oh you are so fortunate to live there, and love the fact ‘beaches’ are magically appearing. I think there was one sandy one that had appeared on our last visit!

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