Hiking trail from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo, Madeira

Walking from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo was a long-delayed project of mine, but finally, I made it on a fabulous day.

The path that joins Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo must be one of the exiting, and most walked trails by regular hikers traveling to Madeira.

Pico Ruivo, with an altitude of 1862m, is the highest peak of  Madeira‘s archipelago. This summit is, in itself, a great attraction for many hikers.

However, the path between those two peaks is away more magnificent than strictly hiking up to the highest summit independently from where you start.

Walking from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo has that kind of landscape capable of filling our chest and making us stop breathing.

I recall a time when I heard the news about some significant improvements on this trail, turning it more widely accessible.

There was negative criticism of this work, complaining that this easiness would take the charisma out of the walk.

I can’t speak about how it was before the improvements, although, with my experience and old photos, I can at least imagine how it would be like.

This mountain trail was made more accessible to a broader range of people and, above all, with a higher level of safety.

Still, it does not invalidate the necessary precautions one should take while using this trail.

Even so, now all hikers, with some practice, can venture into this trail without any significant risk.

It is not because this trail gets to be improved that the world starts to be shorter with adventure possibilities for those who like the adrenaline sensation, as is my case.

Having that said, I was pleased with what I saw concerning the work done on the track.

As we often say, “there is no beauty without a but”, there is a price to pay for this improvement, and it is called: the crowd.

Like me, countless hikers were hiking this path, and at some points, there was a dense line of hikers.

It was not easy to wait for windows of opportunity where no one would pass the track, and I could take a picture… but it was possible.

Even with all these people, it worth walking this trail.

The trail starts from the commercial area of ​​Pico do Areeiro, where we can use the facilities after the usual coffee.

As a commercial and accessible area, it is crowded with people taking selfies with the background landscape, a sign of modern times.

The beginning of the trail is very evident.

On a clear day, as it was the case, your eye will reach all the peaks around you, and you can see how steep and hilly the island is, full of deep wrinkles and green ridges.

I look into the valley, and my imagination flies.

Within some of the valleys in front of me, deep inside, are some of the famous Madeira‘s aqueducts.

In the coming days, I will be walking along those aqueducts, it is a fantastic feeling.

If you are sensitive to vertigo, at some points of the walk, you may have some difficulty, but you also find handrails to help you.

I love my country, and I try to get all the opportunities to be positive about it. However, one of the things we Portuguese tend to fail is lack of maintenance, and here is no different.

Pity, I can see that some handrails are already a little badly treated and in need of repair.

Along the way, we pass through four tunnels wherein two of them it is essential to use the headlight as they are long enough to be pitch black.

At the steepest spots, a few steps were excavated or metal ladders placed to facilitate the progression.

At a specific moment, you get to a house that looks like a mountain shelter.

This structure is abandoned, and I do not know all the details of the story. Still, it hurts to see a fascinating building totally left to rot.

I could hear tourists, domestic and foreign, asking about the abandonment of the place, shrugging their shoulders, and not understanding what might have motivated such a situation.

As the entrepreneur that I’m, I could not avoid thinking about opening a bar here.

If half of these people consumed something in this place, it would be a great business day, and for walkers would be excellent service.

We passed the shelter before hiking up the last section until Pico Ruivo.
Pico Ruivo is a few hundred meters away from the shelter house. As people usually say, the tail is the most difficult to skin off.

When you reach the top, the 360º view is unforgettable. It is the dream of any landscape photographer.

You are above the clouds. On the east side, a thick cloak of white clouds covering whatever goes on down there as if nothing else existed.

I could also see the shelter from here.

An intriguing walking trail starts from the shelter. Although this trail is not known to me, I recognized it as the “Vereda do Pico Ruivo” walking path, and I was sad that I couldn’t walk it, another time perhaps.

At the highest peak in Madeira island, I stopped to contemplate the landscape.

These are priceless moments one can enjoy with tranquility.

It was perfect to be there.

David Monteiro

PS: The Vereda do Pico do Areeiro walking trail is marked as 5.6 km long for one direction. During this walk, all things considered, I made a total of 14.5Km with an elevation gain/loss of 957m.

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