Hike to Pico Ruivo is probably on every hiker’s bucket list when visiting Madeira, and that’s exactly how it got on our bucket list as well!
The most challenging variable of this hike was of course – the weather. If bad weather conditions previously enabled us to have one of the most famous waterfalls in Madeira to ourselves (read more about it here: https://majalampe.com/2019/06/16/madeira-25-fontes-waterfall/) , it was different this time. The main reason behind our decision to hike on Pico Ruivo were promising views over the whole island, so in case of fog there was no point in going.
We would check the weather at Pico Ruivo for the next day every evening regularly and it has been foggy for the majority of the time. Consequently we had almost given up on even going on that hike.
One of the last days in Madeira we’ve woken up pretty early and decided to check the web cams of Pico Ruivo hence the foggy weather forecast and aaaaaaah – all we could see was clear blue sky!
I’ve never seen us pack so fast for anything. We took breakfast with us and ate it while driving to the mountains. 20 minutes after checking web cams we were on our way to hike to Pico Ruivo!
You park your car at Pico do Areiro, which is a great starting point, offers a viewing point with restaurant and has a huge parking. Many people who don’t hike, can drive there and still admire the mountains, which is great.
We have started the hike very enthusiastically, determined and full of expectations. Paths are really nicely marked and settled, so it’s really hard to miss the path, let alone get lost. Every part of the hiking trail treated us with incredible views. The path goes up and down all the time which made it hard to track how many ascends and descend we’ve done already. Which made it seem really easy at the begining and turned out to be more difficult.
You cross a few longer dark tunnels, that means you don’t see anything and that’s when our lights we had brought with us came in very handy. Without a phone or light you are not able to see anything!
After I would say 2 hours, thousands of steep steps, a few dark tunnels and numerous precious views later we’ve finally reached the top of Pico Ruivo! I would say this peak is not the main attraction, that definitely goes to the views you see during the entire hike. We had a lunch and rested for a bit, when my boyfriend decided to go a little further to another peak or some viewing point. I told him I don’t feel like going so he was not so eager to go anymore. I insisted on him to go and ensured him I will be fine alone. He finally agreed on going and that’s where our ways split!
I went back alone. That’s when it all got a bit harder.
Many more people were coming towards the peak and it was hard to walk in an opposite direction, due to narrow paths. Then the fog came and made everything a bit messier. Sometimes it was hard to see a few metres ahead and suddenly everything became very unknown to me, since the fog changed the surrounding quite a bit.
I couldn’t recall making so many descends before, because now there were ridiculously many steps upwards. I got really tired, because steps dictate your tempo and you have to adjust to it. You can’t have your own tempo and that sucked the energy out of my body much faster. I had enough food and drink in my backpack but at some point it felt like even that wasn’t enough.
After a minor chrisis I wanted to call my boyfriend just to check in with him and of course for a cherry on top, there wasn’t any signal in that area. I told myself to just keep on walking!
The last half an hour of the hike was the worst haha. I felt like every molecule of glycogen had left my body. I ate 3 power bars in that last half an hour. I sat down, snacked, waited a few minutes for sugar to kick in and then headed forward. I had to repeat this ritual 4 times before finally reaching the parking sport. Thank god!
As soon as I reached it, I walked into the restaurant and ordered myself double espresso and a coke and drank them both ! (Let’s ignore the fact that I am a nutritionist for a bit haha). Drinking them both at once never felt so good before!
I have waited for my boyfriend for another half an hour until he showed up, tired as well. I handed him a can of coke and that brought the biggest smile on his face. It was a moment I will remember forever for some reason. He told me he went quite a bit further and he hadn’t stopped for a breaher on the way back at all! I told him I had stopped at least 10 times haha, oops!
We drove back to our apartment really tired, but so happy we have conquered the highest peak of Madeira. Internally I was kind of proud of myself for hiking alone in the middle of Madeira and for successfully handling fog and fatigue haha. This hike could definitely be scored to top 5 hikes of my life. I hope we make a lot of similar ones in the upcoming years, actually I am sure we will.