Higher and higher we drove up the monstrous mountains of Madeira. Narrower and narrower the roads shrunk as the altitude increased. Tenser and tenser I grew as giant coach buses came at us with a steep cliff drop at my side. Up, up, round and round, in and passed the fluffy white clouds. Watch your car, the slopes are steep and the traffic is dense up here at 1,818 metres.
There I was touching the heavens, walking atop the clouds on the island’s third-highest peak, Pico do Arieiro. The highest mountain on Madeira Island, however, cannot be reached by car and must be trekked seven kilometres from Pico do Arieiro. On this hike, you will pass the second highest peak, Pico das Torres at 1,853 metres until you reach the highest point on the island, Pico Ruivo at 1,862 metres.
At this altitude, you feel as if you are a bird soaring through the clouds, viewing all of the central mountains and the Curral das Freiras on the valley floor of this beautiful peaceful island. When there are no clouds and the sky is clear, you can even see Porto Santo, one of the islands of Madeira, about 30 nautical miles north. It’s amazing that in under an hour you can go from a sunny, ocean-front view, to a cool, cloudy view of sweeping mountains. This tiny island of treasures continues to reveal all of its natural secrets the more willing you are to explore.