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Review: East Island Tour of Madeira

Escorted Tour - Coach

Lots to see

  • By SilverTraveller ZoshJosh

    38 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • December 2016
  • Husband

148 people found this review helpful

Madeira is much more than just Funchal and the odd tourist resort. When
you get fed up seeing the coast and sunbathing by the pool you need to
go into the the mountains to explore further. One of the easiest ways
to view some of Madeira, and a great introduction, is by taking one or
the many and relatively cheap tours which pick you up from your hotel.
The tours are undemanding, are great for peope who do not or cannot
walk up slopes for a sustained period of time and who may get bored if
in one place for too long.

Our guide was knowledgable with reasonable English although in December
the buses have two or three nationalities with a poliglot guide. If you
take a minibus, the driver doubles as the guide but groups are much
smaller and as We just had another couple on this tour we had lots of
attention and all our questions answered. In the minibus tours we
swapped places for front seats halfway through. The East tour is a full
day with a stop for lunch and many stops with, each time, the guide
telling us what we can see and where the toilets are so no one can be
caught short.

Our first brief stop was at the interesting trout pools in Ribeiro Frio
which is also the starting point for many ‘levada’ walks (which we have
saved for a future visit). This has got many flights of steps.There is
also a good cafe serving the good famed chocolate drinks as well as the
usual coffee,teas and cakes.

In Camacha, the basket weaving centre which once was a large and
thriving industry but nowadays struggles to survive as willow craft
skills are lost with an older generation.As well as a large exhibition
where you can buy one of hundreds of beautiful objects, there is also a
demonstration of basket weaving and a display about the discovery of
the island. Camacha is regarded as the culture capital of Madeira.

On the way to Santana, in Faial, we stopped briefly (as it was very
windy) along the coast to take pictures from under a Pohutakawawa tree,
normally a native on New Zealand but found elsewhere too.

Sanatana is famed for its A-framed small and courful willow-thatched
buildings and has one open for tourists to enter to see how people
lived and sample the local drink.

As we drove through the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the unspoilt
LauriiSilva forest our guide pointed out the lichens on the laurel
trees the famed lily of the valley trees and other species unique to
the island. We learnt that the forest also plays an important part in
its hydrological balance and is the reason behind the formation and use
of the, originally formed in the 15th Century, levadas, irrigation
channels for which Madeira is famous for.

In Porto da Cruz we went to the, now defunct, rum distillery where rum
was produced from the Madeiran sugar cane and then onto the sea front
for a walk along the sea famous as a surfers stop.

then we drove up to a high vantage point for good views of the popular
Machico resort and beach with its imported soft Moroccan sands.

On the way back into Funchal the guide told us about how local farmers
grow crops for local use, the small local bananss, guavas, passion
fruit etc which we could see growing and being sold by the roadside.

All in all, it was a very pleasant and informative day tour which
worked out cheaper than having to hire a car or relying on infrequent
bus timetables.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • Adventurer
    about 4 years ago
    Looks amazing. I must pay a visit to Madeira next
  • ESW
    almost 5 years ago
    Just another couple would have made this almost a personal tour and sounded great fun. Did it allow you long enough at the different places? Did the tour price include lunch or were you responsible for making your own arrangement.

    Did you arange the tour yourself or was it arranged by the hotel for you?