Discover the Caves and the Volcanism Center of São Vicente (São Vicente – Madeira)
Our day started early. We would drive about 1 hour by car between Machico and São Vicente and we wanted to get there as early as possible. The Caves and the Volcanism Center of São Vicente would be the first destination of the day.
We had some curiosity in this visit because the set of its “volcanic tunnels” is the biggest discovered of Madeira Island and this alone would be reason enough to arouse the curiosity in anyone.
This formation resulted from a volcanic eruption 890,000 years ago in Paul da Serra that descended to the sea. While the outer part, exposed to lower temperatures, solidified rapidly, the lava continued to run in the interior with many gases, thus forming numerous lava tubes that today constitute the complex of the Caves.
They are in total more than 1000m in length and were opened to the public on October 1, 1996, being the first caves of volcanic origin inaugurated in Portugal.
The force of Nature shapes the Earth with dramatic events and brings about transformations of rare beauty.
The journey through the Mountain Massif of Madeira rocked Maria who fell asleep on arrival at São Vicente. We waited a while in the parking lot until she woke up and then we headed to the ticket office. The group waiting for the next guided tour was growing every moment. Tourists, mostly foreigners, also waited for the guide who would present us about 700 meters of the underground walking route.
We began our journey into the Earth when the previous group left from the caves.
The route is developed along tunnels from where volcanic stalactites fell and here and there appeared small ferns staining the walls of green. We went through three large galleries (the biggest one called “Desire Lake”) that opened to lakes of pure and transparent waters. The force of Nature shapes the Earth with dramatic events and if on the one hand many result in great tragedies, some other times they brings about transformations of rare beauty, as in the case of these Caves. The fascination increased with each step, imagining the lava flows through the region and all the volcanic phenomenon that gave rise to Madeira Island.
We left the caves and headed to the Volcanism Center where we got more information about the geological formation of Madeira. We also see an audiovisual projection that portrays the evolution process from the “Big Bang” to our days.
At the time of our farewell, we stayed a little more in the garden where Maria could run and be a child. There was still time to discover a “pirates treasure”, consisting of two pieces of chocolate coins, in a bush on the way to the car. How lucky Maria!
Points of Interest:
Caves and the Volcanism Center of São Vicente, Garden.
- Visits open to the public every day, except Christmas Day, from 10am to 6pm (should be confirmed before the visit).
- At the time of our visit: adult tickets for € 8 and Maria for being less than 5 years didn’t pay.
- After buying the ticket, wait for the previous group to leave the cave to start the tour with the guide.
- Parking is free and the complex has a bar and a souvenir shop for anyone interested in purchasing souvenirs from the region.
- From Funchal, the car journey takes about 35 minutes (to cover 33 km).
101melevation gain uphill
80melevation gain downhill
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