Spontaneous Xmas Vacation 2015

After intense working days during november, I once again decided to leave germany during the christmas break by visiting Madeira. As last year, I tried to go hiking each day. Again most trips have been inspired by madeira-tipps.de (german language). Thanks a bunch to Oliver.

From Achada do Teixeira (1592 m) to Pico Ruivo (1862 m)

This is a convenient trip from a parking lot over a paved respectively stepped path. Hiking clothing is recommended anyway.
The path was not that crowded as expected, I guess mainly due to the foggy and cool weather conditions. At the end, near the Pico Ruivo shelter, more people populated the hill, since two other paths joined.

From Christo Rei to Fatima chapel (near Rabacal)

One more convenient trip, following the Levada do Paul. Most of the time there is direct sunlight, e.g. no trees. One passes, besides other things, a solar power plant and some rock caves. This trip provides some great views over the Atlantic Ocean.

There were not many other hikers populating this trail. One way requires about 1 hour.

From Encumeada pass to Folhadal

I’ve been here last year. The levada do Norte splits after a couple of meters. I followed the left hand branch, avoiding the branch that leads through a long tunnel. This time the tunnel was due :)

The tunnel is rather straight, so one can always see the light at the end. At both ends, the tunnel is more narrow than in the middle. In case other hikers already pass the tunnel in the opposite direction, there is no need to wait until they passed. There’s enough space inside.

The landscape on the other side of the tunnel is much different. It’s cooler and more humid.

Following the levada, soon the next longer tunnel will appear, where I returned. On the left hand side of its entrance, a nice fall invites for a rest.

From Rancho Madeirense to the Parque das Queimadas

This section of the way along the Levada do Caldeirao Verde is more than convenient. It’s just a leisure walk, ending at the Parque das Queimadas where you’ll find some picnick places and a toilet.

Optionally one can follow the levada further, but I made this a separate trip.

From Pico Aieiro to Pico Ruivo

This is the counter part of the abovementioned trip to Pico Ruivo. The path bifurcates in the middle section and is paved respectively stepped up to that point. The western part was closed during my visit, so I had to take the same way forth and back. After the crossing, the surface consists of ground, but is convenient to walk anyway.

There are a couple of tunnels to pass, some short, some longer. A torch is recommended.

During my visit, there was bright sunlight and some light wind – almost perfect. During the evening hours I noticed I didn’t cover my head during the trip. Ouch. Be warned :) .

From Parque das Queimadas to Caldeirão Verde

This trip is listed at madeira-tipps.de, but a description page is missing. It is the complement to the abovementioned tour from Rancho Madeirense to the Parque das Queimadas.

Appearently this levada is a very popular one. Today it was releatively quiet, but I met about 10 other hiking parties anyway. To be honest, it is really a nice trip. It features many aspects a levada hiker likes – nice old trees, the path sometimes covered with roots or stones, often leading over the top of the levada wall, deep cliffs, several tunnels, bridges, humid rocks covered with plants and a really nice fall at Caldeirão Verde.

The trail even further follows a levada up to the Caldeirão Inferno. I saved it for the next stay :) .

From Christo Rei along the levada do Paul

This trip was planned as a complement to the abovementioned trip from Christo Rei to the Fatima chapel. I hoped the clouds were low enough to get some sunshine at the upper regions of the island. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The trip was baffled by extreme fog and wind at Paul da Serra. A german proverb is like »Wie wir sehn, sehn wir, dass wir nichts sehn.« (translates to something like »As we can see, we do see, that we don’t see anything.«).


The perfect occasion for a lazy day :) .


Ribeiro Frio appears to be a hiking center; major hiking routes cross the village, there are a couple of picnick sites in the surroundings, and the main street is well covered with parking cars.

The trip along the levada »Serra do Faial« to the viewpoint »Miradouro dos Balcões« is short but nice, though the levada to the Balcoes currently is out of operation.

Samsung Galaxy S3 as a GPS receiver

It was a mistake to leave my beloved Nokia N900 at home. Together with osm2go it still is the perfect on-site mapping gadget.

Instead I only had a Samsung Galaxy S3 with me. Its GPS receiver is rather poor and often cannot provide positioning data. It somehow works in the car (though not perfectly). But when hiking, even when placing it on top of the knapsack, it almost never got a GPS fix.

Osmand as a mapping application

I used osmand on the S3 for the following:

  • Car routing from the accomodation to the hiking destination.
  • Display the hiking trip as a GPX tracklog on top of the map.
  • Write a tracklog of the hiking trip and display it on top of the map.
  • Insert waypoints into the tracklog, to as to add mapping details to the openstreetmap data set at home.

For unkown reasons, Osmand was able to display the recorded track as long as I was in the car to the hiking destination. But as soon as I arrived there, osmand stopped routing (great) and it also stopped displaying the recorded trip on top of the map. I checked all preferences but didn’t find any option like ”Always display tracklog, even when no navigation is performed.”. Back at home I had to notice that Osmand did not only deny to display the track. It even didn’t record any trackpoints. It did, however, record the remarks I typed for mapping purposes.

I’m still scratching my head because I do not know what I did wrong so as to loose my tracklog data. It’s a pity when you record trips far away from home and you notice nothing was recorded back at home. Fortunately at least my annotations have been saved to the tracklog, so I was able to edit some minor details in the OpenStreetMap data set.


I still use the Samsung NX30 and I am quite pleased with it. However I adapted based on last year’s experience.

  • The lens I used last year was the EX-T50200CSB 50-200 mm. I much missed a wide angle. Thus I meanwhile bought the L18200MB 18-200 mm, despite its price tag. AFAIR I once read in a review that it is the “weakest Samsung lens so far”. Yes, it is not the best lens. But it allows me to go hiking without hte need to carry further lenses. Frankly, the quality is not the best. But I really enjoyed to have a lens with such an amazing zoom range at my fingertips.
  • Last year I left the tripod at home, so as to save luggage weight. I often missed it. This year the ball head was with me – and of great use, especially for taking pictures with longer exposure times (tunnels, water, fog).
    1. Verdict

      I didn’t expect so much fun. I thought I’ve seen the most interesting hiking trails last year. I learned that there was enough left to see, and I know there is still enough left for one further visit :) .