Camara de Lobos is a lovely village near Funchal. On the Sunday of Epiphany, which commemorates the three magi visiting the baby Jesus, a huge traditional bread is shared with the community. After a hiatus due to COVID, this year’s bread was bigger than ever, weighing 265 kg. We enjoyed the preparations and the bread that came with a chocolate cup with cherry liqueur.
We had planned to view the Cascata dos Angos, a waterfall on the south coast of Madeira that splashes right onto the road. However, in winter heavy rainfall makes the waterfall sometimes too big to safely pass through it by car, and also there is a risk of rockfalls. So the road was unfortunately closed. But the cliffs and fishermen were good alternatives to find!
From the misty highlands we descended into a valley with levadas on several different levels. The famous 25 Fontes waterfall was an absolute highlight, but hiking along the levadas was beautiful too. And strenuous with over 500 meters of descending and then climbing back up!
The higher parts of Madeira island are often shrouded in mist. I love seeing the clouds rolling towards me, and seeing the sun shine when I look in the other direction. Watch the video if you want to know what I mean!
Porto Moniz is a town on the northwest coast of Madeira. Coming from the mountains, the view down on the town is stunning. Via a road with many hairpin turns (under Mary’s watchful gaze), you arrive in the town at sea level. Very special is the seawater basin in which you can swim even in January!
Many hikes on Madeira are out-and-back style: you follow a levada till you are fed up with it and then you trace your steps back. Following the Levada da Ribeira da Janela, we came to a lush forest of indigenous trees and plants, with water dripping through ferns into the levada. The views into the valley were stunning!
Funchal, Madeira’s capital, was still in Christmas mood, with beautiful light displays brightening up the city at night. The night we visited, there was a concert in the park, where traditional songs for the time of Epiphany were sung. People used to go from door to door to sing these songs in honor of the three magi from the Christmas story. What a blessing to experience this!
In the western part of Madeira, near Ponta do Pargo, we hiked to our first levada, the Levada Nova. It runs here through a eucalyptus forest, which is not part of the indigenous flora of Madeira and is, to be honest, a bit dull. But the coastal views were lovely!
At the beginning of the new year I love to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poem, written in December 1944 when he was in prison.