Madeira Natural Park: visit unique ecosystems in the world

Parque Natural da Madeira.
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The Madeira Natural Park is a protected area that covers around 67% of the territory of Madeira.

In other words, if we do not consider urban areas, almost the entirety of Madeira Island is part of the Madeira Natural Park.

It was created in 1982 and is a Biogenetic Reserve that aims to preserve endangered and unique species in the world, such as the Orquídea da Serra.

Visitors can (and should) enjoy these beautiful landscapes but must ensure that their impact is minimal.

In other words, leave it as they found it or better.

Thus, in this article, you will find some information about the Madeira Natural Park and best practices for enjoying the park.

How to visit Madeira Natural Park

Lagoa do Fanal.
Fanal Lagoon in Madeira Island.

Some areas of the Natural Park of Madeira are only accessible by authorized people, meaning that ordinary visitors cannot access them.

However, there are many places where visitors are allowed, and the best way to get to know them is to take the recommended walking routes.

What to visit in Madeira Natural Park

As we said at the beginning of the article, the Madeira Natural Park covers a considerable territory of Madeira Island.

If you are going to Madeira for a few days, here are some suggestions of what to visit and do.

Please remember that you will need to rent a car (public transport is not a viable option) and adequate equipment (trekking shoes, warm clothing, flashlight, food, and drink, among others).

Ponta de São Lourenço

Ponta de S. Lourenço. Parque Natural da Madeira.
Ponta de S. Lourenço path.

Ponta de São Lourenço is located at the eastern end of Madeira Island.

It is a beautiful place with breathtaking landscapes and is part of the Natura 2000 Network, but to get to know the area, you have to take a pedestrian route of about 6 six kilometers.

The PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço passes through unforgettable places, such as the Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve and Cais do Sardinha but be careful because it is a place without shade and very slippery.

The Mountain Massif

Nascer do Sol no Pico do Arieiro.
Sunrise at Pico do Arieiro.

The mountain massif covers the most difficult to access areas in Madeira, and perhaps that is why they are so impressive.

Some of the recommended walking routes are PR1 Vereda do Pico do Areeiro, PR1.1 Vereda da Ilha, PR1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo, PR1.3 Vereda da Encumeada, PR2 Vereda do Urzal, PR3.1 Caminho Real do Monte, PR6 Levada das 25 Fontes, PR6.1 Levada do Risco, among others.

Walking along Madeira’s levadas and paths is an excellent way to explore the protected areas of Madeira’s Natural Park.

However, it is a challenge to spend so much time walking.

So, another way to make your stay in Madeira less tiring is to visit some of these places by car and choose just a few trails to go on foot.

For example, we decided to drive to Pico do Arieiro to see the sunrise.

Curral das Freiras is part of the central massif and is another one to include in your itinerary. The best way to enjoy the landscape is to go to the viewpoints.

Curral das Freiras: miradouro Boca dos Namorados.
Boca dos Namorados viewpoint.

We chose to go to Miradouro Boca dos Namorados and Miradouro Boca da Corrida when it had rained a lot the day before, so the amount of water that fell from the mountains was unbelievable.

The Laurisilva Forest

Tis Grove in Fanal. Centenary trees are part of the Laurissilva Forest.

The Laurissilva Forest is the indigenous forest of Madeira, that is, the one that existed before Portuguese navigators arrived here.

It is a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

To explore Fanal, we suggest two trails: the PR13 – Vereda do Fanal and the PR14 – Levada dos Cedros.
But if you are driving, put Fanal on the GPS, and you will reach this unique place.

Other Madeira Nature Reserves

Floresta Laurissilva no Parque Natural da Madeira.
Laurissilva Forest – Madeira Island.

On Madeira Island, you will find interesting natural reserve areas to discover.

The protected areas include: Garajau Partial Natural Reserve, the Rocha do Navio Natural Reserve, the Porto Santo Marine Protected Areas Network, the Desertas Islands Natural Reserve, the Selvagens Islands Natural Reserve, the Cabo Girão Protected Area, and the Ponta do Pargo Protected Area.

On the other hand, and with regard to the NATURA 2000 NETWORK, we must mention the Central Mountain Massif, the Laurissilva forest, Ponta de São Lourenço, the Ilhéu da Viúva, Achadas da Cruz, Moledos, Pináculo, Pico Branco (Porto Santo) , Porto Santo Islets, Desertas Islands, Selvagens Islands, Paul do Mar – Jardim do Mar, Ribeira Brava, Cabo Girão, Caniço de Baixo, Porto Novo, Machico, Pico do Facho and Madeira Cetaceans.

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