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Hidden Gem Hike: From Santana to Pico Ruivo

If you love hiking and want to explore a less crowded trail in Madeira, the hike from Santana to Pico Ruivo is perfect for you. This off-the-beaten-path hike offers stunning views, peaceful surroundings, and a challenging yet rewarding experience.


Why Choose the Santana to Pico Ruivo Hike?

While many hikers choose the popular routes, the trail from Santana to Pico Ruivo is a hidden gem. This hike gives you a chance to experience the natural beauty of Madeira without the crowds. You'll walk through dense forests, climb steep paths, and enjoy breathtaking views from the highest peak on the island.


Trail Overview

Difficulty: Moderate - challenging

Distance: 8 KM (until Pico Ruivo), 11KM with Pico Ruivo and back to Achada do Teixeira + Taxi down

Duration: 3 hours (5 hours with Pico Ruivo)

This hike is best for experienced hikers who are looking for a challenge and do not mind a few scratchers while walking through the vegetation. The trail can be steep and rocky, so good fitness and proper hiking gear are helpful.


Starting Point: Santana

The hike begins in the charming village of Santana, known for its traditional thatched houses. Before you start, take some time to explore the village and enjoy its friendly atmosphere. Also the Home of one of the nicest CoLiving Places i have ever been to: CoLiving Santana.


A row of traditional thatched houses in Santana, Madeira, featuring a unique triangular shape and vibrant colors, surrounded by lush greenery.
Traditional thatched houses in Santana, Madeira, known for their unique triangular shape and colorful facades.

The Hike: What to Expect

1. Forest Paths

The trail starts with a gradual ascent through lush forests. You'll walk under the canopy of Madeira's native trees, including laurel and heather. The forest is quiet and peaceful, with the sound of birds and the rustling of leaves accompanying you.


A hiker on a narrow, green forest trail in Madeira, with sunlight shining through the dense foliage above.
We started walking along a narrow forest path in Madeira, surrounded by lush greenery and illuminated by sunlight filtering through the trees.
2. Steep Climbs

From the beginning, the trail becomes steeper and more challenging. You'll need to navigate rocky paths and sometimes use your hands to navigate through the vegetation. Take your time and enjoy the stunning views that start to appear as you gain altitude.



3. Breathtaking Views

As you walk up and up towards Pico Ruivo, the highest peak in Madeira at 1,862 meters (6,109 feet), the landscape opens up, revealing panoramic views of the island. On a clear day, you can see the entire island and even the neighboring island of Porto Santo. The ascent can be tough, when its spring and summer and you've to navigate through some invasive plants, but the views from the top are worth every step.



Two hikers on a narrow trail towards Pico Ruivo, having left the forest behind. The path offers breathtaking views of green mountains and a bright blue sky with scattered clouds. The hikers have a few scratches but are enjoying the beautiful scenery.
On our way to Pico Ruivo after leaving the forest behind, walking along a narrow path with stunning views of the surrounding green mountains and a bright blue sky dotted with clouds.

Tips for the Hike
  • Start Early: Begin your hike early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and give yourself plenty of time to complete the trail.

  • Bring Snacks and Water: At the top, there is the "Mountain Spot Café", but make sure to pack enough food and water for the hike.

  • Wear Proper Gear: Good hiking boots and layered clothing are essential. The weather can change quickly, so be prepared for different conditions.

  • Check the Weather: Before you start, check the weather forecast to ensure safe hiking conditions.


Ending Point: Pico Ruivo

Reaching the summit of Pico Ruivo is an incredible achievement. Take some time to rest, enjoy the views, and take photos. From here, you can either return the way you came or continue on other trails that connect to Pico do Arieiro or back Achada do Teixeira.

Conclusion

The hike from Santana to Pico Ruivo is a fantastic off-the-beaten-path adventure. It offers a mix of challenging terrain, beautiful landscapes, and the satisfaction of reaching Madeira's highest peak. If you're looking for a unique hiking experience in Madeira, this trail is a must-try. Lace up your boots, pack your gear, and get ready for an unforgettable journey.


POV: My Adventure from Santana to Pico Ruivo: A Hiker's Diary (Photos are from our guided tour)


We recently went there and i would like to share my experience with you. This hike is less known but absolutely worth the effort. Here’s my story.


Starting the Journey in Santana

I arrived in Santana early in the morning. The village was still waking up, and the air was fresh and crisp. Santana is famous for its traditional thatched houses, and I took a moment to admire them before starting my hike. I had a great breakfast in one of the best bakerys: Padaria Delicias da Bia. (https://maps.app.goo.gl/tFGTGYgHU8ib19SG7)


With my backpack ready and my hiking boots on, I set off on the trail.


Entering the Forest

The first part of the hike took me through a beautiful forest. The path was shaded by tall trees, and the only sounds were birds singing and leaves rustling. It felt like I was walking in a magical, green tunnel. The trail is not marked and you definitely need a local guide to help you finding the trail.


a dense forest on the way from Santana to Pico Ruivo
As you see: you do not see anything. A local guide could help you navigating through this forest at the beginning, knowing well where to turn left, right, ...

Climbing Higher

After a while, the trail began to climb more steeply. The path became rocky, and I had to watch my step. The forest started to thin out, and the views began to open up. I could see the mountains ahead and the valley below. The higher I climbed, the more spectacular the scenery became.



Reaching the Challenging Part

As I got closer to the check point "Achada do Teixeira", the hike became more challenging. The path was narrow and steep, and sometimes I had to use my hands to steady myself. I took frequent breaks to take in the views. Each time I looked back, the landscape looked even more amazing.


Four hikers on a lush green mountain trail in Madeira, surrounded by yellow flowers and dense vegetation. The hikers have their arms raised in joy, with the peaks of Madeira's mountains and a blue sky with clouds in the background.
Our group of four hikers standing on the trail surrounded by lush green vegetation and yellow flowers, with the peaks of Madeira's mountains in the background and a bright blue sky with clouds above us. We are truly celebrating our journey.

The Final Ascent

I left the forest behind could see the peak of Pico Ruivo ahead, and that kept me going. The thought of reaching the highest point in Madeira was so motivating. With each step, I got closer to my goal.



Achada do Teixeira

Out of nothing, we reached the parking of "Achada do Teixeira", where the official trail to Pico Ruivo starts.


The last "tunnel" to Achada do Teixeira
The last "tunnel" to Achada do Teixeira

From there I followed the path to Pico Ruivo and waited hours for the sunset.

I could see the whole island, with its mountains, valleys, and coastline. The feeling of standing on the highest peak in Madeira was incredible. I took a moment to soak it all in and took plenty of photos to remember this moment.


A stunning sunset behind Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest peak, illuminating the mountains and valleys with a warm golden light. The sky transitions from orange to pink and purple, offering a breathtaking view of the serene landscape.
The sun setting behind Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest peak, casting a warm golden glow over the surrounding mountains and valleys. The sky is a beautiful gradient of orange, pink, and purple hues, creating a breathtaking and serene landscape.

Reflecting on the Hike

As I rested at the summit, I reflected on the journey. The hike from Santana to Pico Ruivo was challenging but so rewarding. The changing landscapes, the peaceful forest, the steep climbs, and the stunning views made it an unforgettable adventure.


Heading Back

After spending some time at the top, I began my descent.


You can choose a taxi from Achada do Teixeira (Brazao Taxi Santana: +351 969 716 933) or walk down the "Vereda Achada do Teixeira - Caldeirao Verde" to reach Queimadas, follow "um caminho para todos" and climb back up at Pico das Pedras to your starting point...


I recommed to take a local guide so you can focus on the adventure without worrying about the path!







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