One of the most popular things to do in Madeira is hiking. For its relatively small size, hikers are spoiled for choices in trails, which covers a diverse range of landscapes and difficulty levels. One of the most photogenic and iconic of these trails is Ponta de São Lourenço, a long and narrow rock formation jutting out on the northeastern tip of the island.
I’m not a hiker myself. I love strolling leisurely either in nature or a city, but the idea of dedicating hours and hours to walking usually feels like too much commitment for me. But when I saw the dramatic pictures of Ponta de São Lourenço while researching Madeira, I knew I’d put on my walking shoes and do my only hiking in Madeira there.
Luckily, it’s not a difficult trail. Around 7 km long both ways, it’s steep in places, but no real climbing is required, and the narrow paths have rails. There is no chance of getting lost, as the trails are well-marked and maintained, and anywhere on the trail, you can see the end point (a very useful point of reference for one of those ‘are we there yet’ questions). It is doable and safe for a healthy 8-9 year-olds and older. We picked a warm, sunny and dry day to go, but it can get very windy and chilly on this part of the island, especially when you’re exposed to the northern wind. However, it also got quite warm when the sun came out from behind the clouds, and we’re sheltered from the wind. It was good that we were dressed in easy layers.
The guidebooks estimated 3 hours for the round trip, but we took it slowly, allowing The Kid (and myself) to catch her breath or collecting rocks, and The Hubby to take pictures. The landscape was truly spectacular along the way. Undulating hills abruptly ending in cliffs with exposed rock layers, rocky moon-like vista giving way to grassy plateau. We could see a foggy silhouette of the Desertas Islands, but other than that the sea look so vast and far from everything, it gives you the feeling that you’re on the edge of the world. There were not many other hikers that day, and no other kids but ours, so we got all the chance to soak in the views and take our time with vantage points.
It took us around 2 hours hours from the carpark to reach Casa da Sardinha, the park ranger station. The last piece of the trail is a short but steep hike all the way to the peak. The Kid stayed behind at the park station’s terrace and ate her lunch while we both went for the ascent, which was indeed very steep and slippery, I think The Kid would have really struggled here if she came along. The peak is as far as you can go on the trail, but you could see the two uninhabited islands beyond it.
The hike back to the car park took us around 1 hour only, as it was getting late and the sun was getting lower. The Kid started the trip rather apprehensively, because she didn’t like walking long distance (and thought it would be boring), but in the end she said she was happy we did it and to know that she could manage to walk 7 km. I find it a very rewarding trip myself, as I loved everything about the landscape (did I mention that I love rocky places?). I thought it was the perfect hiking choice to go on February when most of the mountain trails are too cold and even icy, even though I’m sure it’s just as breath-taking any time of the year.
The sky was a bit difficult for photographs that day, with alternating grey sky and piercing bright sun and clouds, but I hope these pictures do justice to the place.
This is also a late entry to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge from last week’s theme: Landscape.