On our first day on Maderia we drove up to one of the highest peaks of the island. Pico do Areeiro is 1,818m high and Madeira's third highest peak.
The drive was pretty exciting for us, the first real time on the roads and then even up the mountains. And as we hadn't gotten used to the map yet, we also couldn't judge the GPS navigation yet. That way we were led through small village roads, roads that were in the middle of construction and angles that triggered different kind of sounds from the people in the car - from afraid for life to squeaking excitement.
Yes, people bike up here! We drove by bikers when we were already over the clouds!
At the end of our very exciting first drive on the island, we ended on a very tilted and steep parking lot in front of the tourist center at the peak - and no free parking space. As we were right on top of a mountain peak, there were no other options then to be patient and wait. And so we did. So here is a general warning: Depending on when you intend to visit Pico do Areeiro, you might need to expect a parking lot queue.
There is a cool military radar station right beside the tourist center.
We had lovely weather, with lots of sunshine above the clouds (duh) and surprisingly warm temperatures for such heights. We heard after the fact that we were apparently very lucky with the weather and that might have been the reason for the long queue at the parking lot.
As we are particularly good planners when we are on vacation, we managed to be in this beautiful location in beautiful weather at exactly the time the sun also it as its peak. Which is a particularly bad timing for photographers. Especially above the clouds.
At least we got some photos really showcasing the rough and edgy nature of this place!
There are a lot of hiking trails over the mountains and we saw some endurance runners that took all the many, uneven steps in a stride, while the less trained of us had a rough time and many regrets to start hiking up and down mountains already on day 1 of the holiday.
The clouds were moving a lot and it was very fascinating to walk in and out of the clouds and trying to capture the vastness of it all in photos.
If you consider visiting Pico do Areeiro, we would recommend to planning the trip at a more interesting time than we did. You must be able to experience some epic sunrises and sunsets here! If the clouds are at the right height, at least ....