Month: January 2020

Brexit and Madeira

 

Visit Portugal announced it’s ‘#Brelcome. Portugal will never leave you’ campaign this week with an open letter to the UK – a friendly reminder that our 600+ years of friendship will continue long into the future:

 

‘…Dear Brits, Some times life plays little tricks and brings some changes. But there are a few things that will remain the same. You are part of our history and together, as allies, we changed the course of the world. No border will separate us. Your sense of humour and zest for life will forever be part of the sand on our beaches, of our golf courses, of our wine cellars and of our music festivals. Brexit may be the word of the day, but from us you will always hear Brelcome. Portugal will never leave you…’

 

All UK visitors to Madeira will continue to enjoy freedom of movement until 31st December 2020, with access as normal to Portugal´s National Health Service and UK driving licences will continue to be valid until the end of the transition period at the end of 2020.

 

Archipelago Choice Madeira Specialists

We specialise in personalised holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo. If you’d like to talk to one of our experts on the best time to visit Madeira, just give us a call on 017687 721070 or drop us a line via our Enquiry Form.

As a keen rider, Anna is always look for the opportunity for a horseback experience in another country. Her latest magical moment was horse riding on Madeira, where she spent a very special two hours in the company of Verdi (named after the composer!) following the levadas through the island’s enchanting Laurisilva Forest.

horse riding on madeira

When you think of Madeira, you don’t immediately think of horses and indeed the logistics of keeping a horse on the island needs some careful planning and management. All hay and feed has to be imported for a start, and the mountainous terrain needs a bit of modification to accommodate our four-legged friends. But in my experience, where there is a love of horses, there is always a way!

horse riding on madeira

Situated in the mountains and on the edge of a national park, the location of the Quinta do Riacho stables, owned and operated by Paula and Paulo Nunes is superb. The national park offers great trail rides for all abilities, and each one has its own unique experiences. For instance, if the ground is dry, Paula will take experienced riders up the steep slopes to an altitude of 1200m, where they are rewarded with stupendous views over the south east side of the island and of the highest peak on Madeira, Pico Ruivo.

horse riding on madeira

Beginners and inexperienced riders will be enchanted riding through Madeira’s Laurisilva Forest and along the island’s famous levadas, and these trails have stunning views over the south-east and north-east parts of the island. My steed was Verdi, a classic Portuguese horse originally from the Azores. With just a total of four of us in the group, this trail ride was very personal, and Paula led the way on a stunning grey stallion called Tornado. As there had been some rain a few days before, the steeper trails were still a bit slippery and would’ve been dangerous for the horses – although I’m an experienced rider, we took some of the lower trails along the levada and through the forests.

horse riding on madeira

Some experiences stay with you forever, indelibly imprinted on your soul, and horse riding on Madeira will be one of them. With his gentle, but cheeky character, Verdi is a horse you fall in love with, and he was an absolute delight to ride. The fresh mountain air was delicately scented by the forest’s endemic species and the exhilarating gallops along the wide pathways brought on a giddy rush of adrenaline. Along the trail, the woody foliage intermittently parts to reveal breath-taking views; even Verdi appeared to stand and stare in wonderment at the verdant landscape, and the desert-like Ponta de Sao Lourenco Peninsula in the far distance. (Although annoyingly he wouldn’t put his ears forward for the photo!).

horse riding on madeira

Then there was a hidden trail, through pine trees with slender, long leaves that softly brushed your face. On this particularly clear day, our elevated position meant we caught a glimpse of the magnificent mountains beyond – this is what horse riding on Madeira is all about. Paula is incredibly knowledgeable about her island and throughout the ride, she points out numerous plants and explains how the islanders live in harmony with nature.

horse riding on madeira

Paula and Paulo’s relationship with their horses is remarkable. They are champions of natural riding techniques; they use bitless bridles and the horses don’t have shoes, so hoof boots are used when the ground is hard. These animals are well and truly loved. Verdi, and one of the other horses Vivaldi (who came out in our group) are rescue animals. Paula and Paulo have nurtured them back from skin and bone to be the healthy, happy horses they are today; these animals have regained their trust of humans, and take care of their riders. Every herd has its pecking order though, and the horses at Quinta do Riacho are no different. “Tornado is very protective over his mares, and Verdi does have to be in front of Vivaldi on trail rides!” Paula laughingly explained. Handily, there is a little café just up the road from the stables, perfect for a refreshing cuppa and I rewarded myself with rather nice Portuguese cake.

horse riding on madeira

And how do you end a day’s horse riding on Madeira ? I recommend treating muscles which haven’t been used to riding for a while to a relaxing soak in a spa bath, followed by a massage at the Quintinha São João hotel in Funchal!

horse riding on madeira

 

Archipelago Choice Madeira Specialists

Anna’s ride is included in our Seven Night Madeira Adventure Holiday. We specialise in personalised holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo, so it’s easy to add a ride to any of our tailor-made holidays. Just give our team a call on 017687 21070 or drop us a line via our Enquiry Form.

Fresh from her recent visit to the island of Madeira, our social-media guru Anna reflects on how her travels have changed over the years…

Madeira

In my backpacking days, my basic travel essentials checklist was money, passport, tickets, a spare pair of knickers and a toothbrush… in those days, the camera was used sparingly; film was expensive to develop and you had to wait a few days after you got back to see the end, often somewhat blurred results. Fast forward 25 years or so, and the checklist has expanded to include the mobile phone, laptop, charger and travel plug. Now we can now take as many photos as we want, and then, upload to social media within hours of the experience; family slide show evenings are a relic of the past. Although the way we share our holiday snaps, the packing checklist and, (in my case), the choice of accommodation have changed somewhat, there are some things which don’t change; the thought of visiting a destination I’ve never been to before still evokes feelings of excitement and slight trepidation. 

Madeira

And while I can now take as many photos as I want, no matter how good the technology, the camera doesn’t quite capture everything. No image can truly show the infinite shades of green across Madeira. On the north side of the island, Porto Moniz’s crystal-clear sea pools are calm and serene. Protected by lava walls, swimming in these pools is a world away from the wild waves crashing in the open sea behind them.

Madeira

Travelling with a friend who I’d met backpacking all those years ago, the island was new to us both. A 4×4 adventure took us through steep, narrow laneways used only by farmers to access their lush terraces growing banana and sugar cane. Once we were on rocky tracks and wooded trails, it was then we breathed fresh mountain air heavy with eucalyptus scent after a delicate afternoon rainfall.

Madeira

What the camera still does though, is prompt us to remember the story behind the image. After a dusty walk along the desert-like Ponta de Sao Lourenco Peninsula in eastern Madeira, we headed back to Funchal later than we intended for our afternoon activity. There was no time for a break, and we planned our quick turnaround from grubby walking clothes to attire more appropriate for ladies taking a sophisticated afternoon tea at the renowned Belmont Reids hotel. When we arrived at our hotel, we carried out our plan with military precision, hopped into a taxi at the scheduled time and walked onto Belmond Reids’ tea terrace, looking the part and smelling somewhat sweeter than an half an hour earlier. We scrubbed up pretty good and we have the pictures to prove it !

 

Archipelago Choice Madeira Specialists

We specialise in personalised holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo. If you’d like to talk to one of our experts on the best time to visit Madeira, just give us a call on 017687 721070 or drop us a line via our Enquiry Form.

It’s an island which is famous for it’s year-round warmth and sunshine – choosing the best time to visit Madeira all depends on the type of holiday you’re looking for…

When is the best time to visit Madeira

Let’s start at the beginning of the year – January through to March is the coolest time of the year, but it’s also the quietest and the cheapest. If you’re looking for a great deal, temperatures around 18-20⁰C and your pick of the island’s hotels, these are the ideal months for you. Also, Madeira’s Carnival normally lands at the end of February/beginning of March – celebrated over the three days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. It’s not as frenetic as Rio’s carnival but it’s an exciting, colourful time to be in the capital and our Seven Night Holiday in Funchal puts you right in the heart of the city.

Another colour-filled time to visit is April through to May, when Funchal’s Flower Festival celebrates the arrival of spring with flower-bedecked floats and flower-themed murals. It’s also the beginning of the main whale and dolphin watching season which continues right through to November.

When is the best time to visit Madeira

If you’re looking for the hottest and driest months, the best time to visit Madeira is from June through August, with temperatures in the high twenties/early thirties. The main island has some amazing natural swimming spots, whilst the neighbouring island of Porto Santo has one of the best (and quietest) beaches in Portugal. Our Madeira Beach Holiday is the perfect way to split your stay between both islands.

When is the best time to visit Madeira

Madeira’s Wine Festival is in late August/September, coinciding with the grape harvest across the island’s vineyards. It’s also a chance for the island to show-off it’s wonderful local produce and seasonal cuisine.

When is the best time to visit Madeira

As the temperature gradually lowers in November and December, it’s an excellent time to walk the island’s extensive network of walking trails. Our Classic Guided Walking Holiday includes the best of Madeira’s famous Levada trails, whilst our Walking with Locals Holidays takes you into the high mountains for the most magnificent views.

When is the best time to visit Madeira

Christmas and New Year are extremely popular with the visitors from mainland Portugal, particularly for Funchal’s record-breaking New Year fireworks display. There’s always a wonderfully friendly and festive atmosphere across the whole city but be warned: mainlanders book their hotels very early in the year. You’ll need to book your New Year trip to Madeira early too !

When is the best time to visit Madeira

 

Archipelago Choice Madeira Specialists

We specialise in personalised holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo. If you’d like to talk to one of our experts on the best time to visit Madeira, just give us a call on 017687 721070 or drop us a line via our Enquiry Form.

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