Thursday, 7 April 2011

Madeira 2011, part five - the North

After a long, but steady climb, and crossing the high plains, we reached the Rabacal valley. This is one of the favourite places to start the 25 waterfalls (or 'fontes') walk. We had tried to do this very walk last time we were here, but severe bad weather prevented us. We STILL haven't done it, but again, it's on 'the list'. You can see walkers on the opposite side of the valley, starting their descent.
And WHAT a descent! This really was awesome country we were in.
Even now, cloud cloaked the very tops. This was why we didn't get to do the other planned walk, the highest path on Madeira.
Amazingly, someone has even built a house here - probably a forest rangers house.
After our stop off at Rabacal, we continued on to the 'star of the show' - Porto Moniz. We stopped off at the top to take pictures, then started to descend the tortuously twisting road down the hillside.

A view of Porto Moniz & Ilheu mole rock. There were lots of natural rock pools down there. The setting was just fabulous, with the Atlantic rollers coming crashing in unfettered.
They said this was a 'calm' day!!! We just couldn't stop taking pictures of the beautiful and stunning waves.

It must be great to swim in these pools when conditions are like this.
The volcanic nature of the rocks made for some very sharp outcrops.
Mirror-like natural pools.
The heli-pad was used for things like medical emergencies.
These are called 'Ilheus da Rib' rocks. The old coastal road threads around the edge of that severe coastline. Not for people who hate heights!
Luckily, there is, as usual, a tunnel that has taken place of the death-defying old road.
Ilheus da Rib rocks. In the foreground are the (ugly) wave breaks on the sea-side of the harbour. When you think of all the natural rock they could have used, WHY the hell they chose to use these ugly man-made things is beyond me? This wasn't the first time we'd seen these either.
The peaceful Porto Moniz harbour.
We set off again, after a really good two and a half hours break in Porto Moniz. We caught glimpses of the old road, and thanked God that we now had the new one instead. The old one had been passable up until recently, but a series of landfalls (again, probably to do with the flooding) had blocked them off, and they were closed to traffic and, we were told, would remain so.
Our next stop was Sao Vicente, and yet another very similar-looking church.
Always time for a coffee, and this little shop was surprisingly well-stocked.
After the short break, we set off again, with the mountains ahead looking worse by the hour.
The trip took us back home now, via the incredible mountain road across the interior of Madeira. It wasn't as clear as we would have liked, but cloud often comes in the afternoon on this island. We hadn't done badly though. We were WELL satisfied with our trip and day.
Tomorrow was a walking day, and boy - did we have a special walk planned

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