Photographs of Madeira


Sao Vincente

The trail from the Encumeada pass leading to the east offers this sight at Sao Vincente, from more than 1000 m above sea. The village of Sao Vincente is located in a valley that has witnessed some of the most recent volcanism in Madeira. If a couple of thousand years can be called "recent".


A rare occasion in late December, as we were to realize the hard way, at least up in the mountains. The moment lasted only a few minutes and came as a complete surprise. A nearby fence served as tripod.
View at Sao Vincente Mountains in the evening


The mountains receive a far heavier load of precipitation than the coastal regions. To cultivate the relatively dry land at the lower slopes a widespread system of channels collects the water and leads it to the fields. The channels are called "levadas". Tempting with a flat profile just like the perfect plain, the usage as walking routes comes as a welcome side-effect; but you better watch your step because of the narrow path along steep slopes and long tunnel-passages.


The whole of Madeira is of volcanic origin, although not a single "real volcano" is present. Erosion cuts quickly through volcanic soil, the soft layers of pumice and harder formations of lava leading to interesting rock formations and deep canons. A view from Pico Ruivo, the highest point of Madeira with 1862 m.
Levada Rocks seen from Pico Ruivo


Always keep your shadow out of a photograph says one of the basic rules of photography, especially important for wide angle shots. In this special case, however, the flying fog produced an aura around the shadow of my head, as if I was a saint (I am not), sunlight refracted twice on me and then in the droplets of fog. The same effect is often observed from airplanes as a light spot. In the background again the village of Sao Vincente.


The entrance to the levada nova was guarded by a handsome goat. Curiosity or duty, you never know what to expect. Fortunately the animal gave way after the photo-shooting in full compliance with touristic concepts. The smell was characteristic but bearable.
Glory with Sao Vincente Buck

Paul do Mar

Storm and rain in the mountains left no choice other than having a walk on the coast, where there was far less precipitation. A steep trail leads up the slopes, the view showing the village of Paul do Mar in front of a strong surf.

Cabo Girao

Erosion has created a wall rising more than 500 m above sea with a heart-stopping view down at the beach. The idea that all could be sliding down into the Atlantic in a single rush trickles the stomach.
View at Paul do Mar Cabo Girao


The eastern end of Madeira is a stretched peninsula, a place that greets the visitor first during the approach to Funchal airport, and a place that offers a popular trail over the barren soil of Ponta de Sao Lourenco. In our case, it was once more a refuge from the unforgiving weather up in the mountains.


Exposure to wind, sea, and sun, this is the basis for a climate of its own. Harder magmatic rocks withstood erosion and survived as tall rocks surrounded by the sea, some of them have even been rewarded a name, like this one, called Ilheu do Guincho.
Sao Lourenco Ilheu do Guincho


Yet another picture of the hostile weather conditions in winter. The waters at Sao Vincente have taken on a brown muddy color after strong rainfalls having washed lots of sediments down the river Rib. And not only sediments, some roadbeds went as well, with landslides and fallen rocks blocking some of the inner roads.

Atlantic at Sao Vincente


A great part of the coastline of Madeira is rather steep. Remember that the island is of young volcanic origin, reflected in the structure of rocks, volcanic sediments with their reddish shade from iron oxide, cut by perpendicular magmatic channels of a basaltic dark-grey color. The tall rocks seen here are magmatic intrusions.

More rocks

While the place seen on the left photograph is easily accessible by car, one has to walk a mile further to the east from the parking lot to this other formation of rocks in a beautiful bay. The place was already busy in winter time and it is hard to imagine, what kind of crowd assembles here during summer.
Cliffs Cliffs


Want to take a bath? The weather was worse than bad for hiking in the mountains, so the huge waves driven by the wind were received as a welcomed diversion from the bad mood that had settled in. One can stare for a pretty long time at such waves without being bored.

Cruise Ship

The Queen Victoria of the Cunard Line has pulled itself into viewing position for the New Year's fireworks at Funchal harbor. The event attracts a swarm of cruise ships every year.
Waves Queen Victoria