Watch the sunrise at Pico Ruivo
One hour: that’s how long it takes between Achada do Teixeira and Pico Ruivo. The walk starts at dawn, with the lanterns illuminating the way. Up there, at the highest point of the island (the third tallest mountain in Portugal), a breathtaking spectacle is waiting for us: the sunrise !! It’s definitely worth the effort !!
It’s 5.15 AM and we have just arrived to Achada do Teixeira. We left the hotel about one hour earlier and the enthusiasm we felt was enough to ward off the sleepiness that still managed to play some tricks on us during our drive from Funchal to Santana.
Everything’s set! It’s time to zip up the jacket and adjust the comfortable pants and mountain boots. I take my time eating a banana and getting the lantern ready. We have a nearly one-hour walk ahead of us before arriving to Pico Ruivo’s viewpoint, the highest point in the island — at 1862 meters high, it is Portugal’s third highest mountain.
We can feel the adrenaline bustling with the scarce light, the sound of steps and our breathing in the silence of dawn and the immensity of nature that surrounds us. Our group starts breaking apart as we climb, since some of us are starting to show the first signs of weakness. A Swedish woman expresses her mix of excitement and frustration: "Where I come from, the highest mountain is 100 meters!” We see the day brighten up very timidly . .. We can hear brave words of encouragement, "Come on, just another 200 meters” !!
Closer to the sky
Finally, we’ve arrived at our destination !! It’s 6h58 AM and there’s pure magic happening right in front of us. We are above the clouds and Mother Nature greets with a display of its splendour.
Shades of red and purple shred the blue sky and reflect on the clouds down us. Little by little, we can see the green mountains appearing between them. The fresh breeze of June highlights the feeling of watching this breathtaking landscape: Paul da Serra, Pico do Areeiro, Curral das Freiras, Santo da Serra and Ponta de São Lourenço. On a clear day, we might be lucky enough to see all the way from the Desert Islands to Porto Santo.
Cameras and smartphones are frantically capturing the moment, and taking a selfie is mandatory, since it is tempting to enjoy and keep this moment as long as we can. The comfort of breakfast in this scenario was the cherry on the top of the cake: a warm coffee to ease the breeze and a slice of homemade cake.
Back to earth
On our way down the mountain, with daylight already showing the way back, our souls are warmed by the splendour of the green. From where we’re standing, so close to the sky, the mountains are covered with green vegetation, with fresh moss growing on the cracks.
To make it even more perfect, we can see groups of purple massaroco plants. All of this takes place under an intense and bright sea of clouds.
By this time, the songs of birds distracted me: it could be a blackbird, a Madeiran chaffinch (tentilhão), one of Madeira’s firecrests (bis-bis), or some other species that lives in the mountain.
This walk was just one of PortoBay’s Atlantic Experience initiatives, which took place in June. Among many other experiences, the program included activities like jeep safaris, workshops about madeiran sea species, thematic dinners, boat rides and the experience of watching the sunrise at the island’s highest point.