Backpacker in disguise

Dreamer. Traveller. Food Lover.

Arieiro to Ruivo

This has to be one of the most rewarding walks you can do as the views are incredible. Majority of the walk you’ll be high in the sky seeing nothing but white puffs of fluffy clouds.

There are a couple ways you can hike to Pico Ruivo, Madeira’s tallest mountain. One way is follow a trail from Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo (8.6km) which takes about 4 hours and is well signposted (what we did) or loop back to Pico de Arieiro. Another is drive to Pico Ruivo car park and go from there which takes a couple hours, the views are pretty but not as impressive from Pico de Arieiro.

What you need

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Suncream
  • Hat
  • Food and plenty of water
  • Torch
  • Waterproof jacket

Either trails are quite challenging and you need a decent level of fitness as there are lots of steep areas and very little shade.

The start of the walk is fairly easy, for me it was about enjoying the view and constantly being in awe of how high we were. Around 45 minutes walking we passed through Tunel do Pico Gato (Cat’s Peak) which is where you need the torch as you’ll be in complete darkness.

There is part of the walk with steel steps, I found this part the toughest and definitely broke a sweat at this point.

Enjoying the breathtaking views

It’s easy to forget how high you are despite being surrounded by clouds. I found the sun was quite intense and in hindsight should have taken a hat as I got sunburn.

There was relief and happiness when I saw the signpost showing 500m to Pico Ruivo. Close by is the mountain refuge where some stop and call it a day but another 20 minutes ascent will get you to the top of Pico Ruivo.

At the top of Pico Ruivo

The pure joy and feeling of achievement when I reached the top was indescribable. I was so happy and the views were the icing on the cake. I can’t describe how beautiful and surreal it feels being above the clouds, this was my favourite and most memorable hike in Madeira. I can’t recommend this walk enough and don’t be put off if its a cloudy day at sea level as once you start the walk you’ll be above them and it’s nothing but sunshine.

Summit of Pico Ruivo

View walking towards Pico Ruivo car park


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