This month’s Mellow Expeditions feature comes from @matilda.Crome who recently spent some time in Madeira exploring the different cultures and landscapes. If this doesn’t make you want to get on a hike abroad I don’t know what will! Here’s what she had to say..
Madeira - A diverse area of outstanding beauty with breathtaking landscapes, I couldn’t wait to indulge into what the island had to offer. I’d seen a lot of posts on Instagram & tiktok of Madeira & how it’s an up and coming hotspot for walkers & nature-lovers. Being a fond tree lover, avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast I was extremely thrilled to delve into the depths of this island.
On the first day we walked into the heart of Funchal, packed with charming multi-century Colonial architecture where we found the fresh fruit & veg markets, an array of vibrant colours and fruits I’d never seen before stood out in front of me. Painted doorways, recycled decorations and a town full of life, this was a beautiful spot for lunch. Later that evening we drove up into the picos & this is when I got my first proper taste of Madeira, we finally made it to Pico Arierio after driving on steep winding roads where we encountered a dense layer of clouds which added a whole ethereal quality, once we ascended through them we were treated to stunning vistas of rugged cliffs and lush green landscapes. Reaching the summit was a beautiful experience, one that felt very surreal based on the pure tranquility & crazy terrain that surrounded me. Watching the sunset from Arierio has to be up there with one of my favourite moments in my life, watching the mountains turn from a subtle greeny-grey to being bathed in warm golden hues which just transformed the landscape.
Over the course of the next few days we did a series of mini hikes through enchanted forests, saw some incredible sunsets, came across a big flower parade, ventured over to the Northeast peninsular and explored a stunning tropical garden up in Monte accessed by cable car. Having Crohn’s disease which means I can sometimes experience unexpected flare ups which unfortunately happened over these few days, meaning we couldn’t do some of the bigger hikes we had planned & took things a bit slower. Nonetheless I still made the best out of a shitty situ (excuse the pun) and you can’t exactly get a much better place to be poorly hey! Fanal forest was a very mystical place made up of ancient laurel trees dated back to the Tertiary period, coming here on a foggy day is meant to have an even more enchanted feeling.
A few more highlights from my trip to Madeira included snorkelling at a nature reserve in Santa Cruz, hiking along the Caldeirao Verde levada, narrow pathways running alongside the streams & vast green landscapes. This hike had to be my fave down to all the amazing tree’s we discovered, the tunnels carved through the mountains and the most spectacular waterfall you’ve ever seen at the half way point - and of course I had to have a lil diparoo. If you imagine the film jumanji - this is what it felt like! The next morning we went on a boat trip to explore the coastal areas and I was lucky enough to see 5 sperm whales, a pod of pilot whales and a few dolphins. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way as I did when I saw the massive tail of a whale splash down into the sea in front of me. I honestly didn’t think the trip could get much better until we spent the rest of the day exploring in Porto Moniz where you can swim in natural pools over looking the sea and rugged cliffs covered in a forest of green lushness.
Finishing the trip on a high we did one last massive hike at sunrise from Pico Arierio to Pico Ruivo, this one being the most challenging yet rewarding of the trip. Traversing along the mountain ridge treated us to dramatic cliffs, deep valleys and unveiled awe-inspiring panoramas. The ever changing scenery and the exhilaration of conquering the picos summit created an unforgettable adventure that will linger in my memory for a lifetime. As the sun crept through the clouds in the morning it just illuminated the whole landscape as well as painting the sky with an array of colours. One reason I will always love hiking is because you can immerse yourself in the natural world. It provides an opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and simply connect with the beauty and tranquility of nature and completing this walk certainly did that!
As I prepared to depart from Madeira aka the island with an internal spring, I reflected on the incredible trip I’d spent on this island paradise. From its natural wonders to its rich culture and warm hospitality, Madeira had captured my heart. I left wanting to return & explore more of this captivating destination in the future as I’m sure there are still some incredible hidden gems out there waiting to be discovered. Only hopefully this time I’ll be camping under the stars.
Remember if you’re ever feeling low or need a lil pick-me-up take yourself out into nature, breathe, ground yourself and take in the natural surroundings X