We have the opportunity to complete our Gold DofE expedition surrounded by spectacular volcanic landscapes, an afternoon exploring on mountain bikes and the opportunity to look out for whales and dolphins which are native to the amazing archipelago of Madeira. A truly fabulous challenge!
Day 1 London - Madeira
We fly from the UK to the archipelago of Madeira, tucked away in the in the Atlantic Ocean more than 500 kilometres from the African coast and 1,000 kilometres from Europe. The volcanic origins of Madeira have given rise to its jagged mountain topography, with intensely fertile green valleys lying between the soaring peaks. Tonight we will stay in the capital Funchal which is nestled in a great natural amphitheatre, facing the blue Atlantic with a backdrop of dramatic mountains.
Day 2 Familiarisation Day – Encumeada
This morning we head into the centre of the island. We will have the opportunity to take a short trek in the local area and enjoy extraordinarily wide-ranging views. We will be staying right in the heart of the laurel forest, recognised by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site. We will spend time checking our kit and reviewing our routes ready for our self-sufficient trek challenge ahead. Our leader and local mountain guides will talk us through our exciting adventure.
Day 3 - 6 Gold DofE Expedition
After breakfast we begin our 4 day trekking challenge, taking us through impressive volcanic geology and lush levada trails, allowing us to enjoy ever-changing sea views. Some of our routes will follow age-old routes used in the 16th century to connect the north and south of the island. Our journey may well take us alongside the amazing network of irrigation channels known as levadas- built in the 16th century by Moroccan slaves to carry water from the wet north side to the drier south side- through terraced farmland and extensive laurel forest, negotiating levada tunnels and cross jagged green ridges.
The scenery is far more varied than you may imagine and the floral diversity is remarkable! We will trek between 4 and 6 hours each day.
We complete our trek in the town of Porto Moniz where we can relax after our expedition. Porto Moniz is famous for its natural swimming pools which are surrounded by large and small rocks nestling in the sea. If you are lucky, you might be able to try the local delicacy of the grilled limpets!
Day 7 Mountain Biking and Whale and Dolphin Watching
We finish off our expedition with a fantastic opportunity to head out into the Atlantic Ocean on boats to find whales and dolphins. Madeira is one of the best locations in the world for year-round dolphin and whale watching. There are about 80 species of cetaceans worldwide and 29 of these can be seen in Madeira year-round. We hope to see at least 1-2 species of dolphins, which will playfully swim around the boat and, if you are lucky, you may even come across a family of whales. Tonight we can share memories of the adventures we have experienced and get ready for our flight home.
This afternoon we explore the local area on two wheels. There are lots of great cycling trails for us to tackle and we will be supported by the local mountain bike teams that know the tracks well. It will be a fantastic way to really experience the island’s rugged terrain and enjoy the breathtaking views.
Day 8 Return to UK
Today we transfer back to the airport for our flight home to the UK with a host of new outdoor skills and wonderful memories of our adventure on this magical island.
Nestled in the Atlantic Ocean, the tiny island of Madeira is perhaps one of our more unexpected destinations for adventure. However, the island’s dramatic scenery and impressive biodiversity make it the perfect destination for any expedition. Perched at the top of an extinct volcano, Madeira boasts incredible views across the Atlantic as well as spectacular volcanic landscapes, soaring peaks, and sprawling forests. All of this packed onto this small archipelago is the perfect recipe for a great expedition- Madeira can be opulently explored with minimal travelling, and when it’s just a short flight from mainland Europe, we can’t think of any reasons why you shouldn’t visit!
Budding explorers can indulge their adventurous side with a wealth of trekking opportunities, including ascents of the island’s two highest peaks, which reward climbers with outstanding outlooks across the whole island and beyond. There are opportunities for mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, and whale and dolphin watching, as Madeira plays host to some 30 species of cetacean. Madeira is home to the Encumeada forest which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a fascinating labyrinth of lava tubes and caves at the island’s core. Exploring the plethora of pretty coastal towns is the icing on the cake for an adventure in Madeira and an action-packed expedition here should be top of anyone’s list.
Day 1 Fly London – Funchal
Day 2 Encumeada – Trek Familiarisation
Day 7 Mountain Biking, Dolphin and Whale Watching
Day 8 Fly Funchal - London
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Written on Monday, 13 February 2017
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