PR11 – Vereda dos Balcões (Santana – Madeira)
This day was ending fast and we ran against time to be able to hike the “PR11 – Vereda dos Balcões” before the sun goes down behind the Central Massif of Madeira Island. Despite being a relatively small and easy pedestrian trail, those who hike with children know that sometimes there are unexpected situations that delay or limit the realization of these little adventures.
We left Santana where we discovered the tradicional houses and by E.R. 103 we continue towards Ribeiro Frio. Zigzagging along the mountain, at some point we had some doubts if we were going in the right direction but soon we realized that we were arriving at Ribeiro Frio. We parked next to “Faísca” restaurant, famous for its “prego em bolo do caco”, but this delicious delicacy would have to wait for the next opportunity because we wanted to begin the hike towards “Miradouro dos Balcões” (Balconies Viewpoint).
We decided to start walking next to the restaurant, on the right side where a sign with “Miradouro dos Balcões” led us to a staircase that went up the slope. This was the most demanding section of the trail. Although not being part of the marked track, we decided to include it in order to hike a circular route.
It was a relief when we reached the marked path on the top. Now along with “Levada” of “Serra do Faial” we could walk to the viewpoint without difficulty.
At this time of day the sun kisses the mountain peaks in a three-tone scenery: blue, gold and green.
The marked linear trail has a length of 1.5km for each side. Walking on a wide path with mud in the most humid sections and some rocks, we can observe a great diversity of flora, endemic species characteristic of the Laurissilva Forest but also some exotic trees like Oaks and Plantains. The birdlife diversity is also well represented and so this trail is frequented by lovers of birdwatching in Madeira.
Under shadows and an intense green, we quickly reached “Miradouro dos Balcões” (Balconies Viewpoint). The reward was great because the landscapes of “Ribeira da Metade” valley and Parish of Faial are really impressive. At this time of day the sun kisses the mountain peaks in a three-tone scenery: blue, gold and green.
Down in the green valleys the springs gain strength and the streams flow with the water mist condensation on the leaves of the plants that seep into the soil. This water is a precious asset of the island and proof of this is its use in Fajã da Nogueira Hydroelectric Power Plant, visible from the viewpoint, which produces electricity and supplies the municipality of Santana.
The scarcity of clouds in the sky allowed us to glimpse in the distance the Central Mountain Range of the island where “Pico do Areeiro” and “Pico Ruivo” stand out. We wanted to stay a little longer. Some birds lay nearby, curious or perhaps in expectation of crumbs. But the return was inevitable and we wanted to do it with in the daylight.
Now, always along the marked trail, the “levada”, directed us to the “Flor da Selva” coffee shop, which is on the trail, near the end of the route. We quickly reached the asphalt of E.R. 103 and it’s only a few tens of meters to complete the route.
This will probably be one of the most accessible pedestrian paths on the island and was a great way to end this filled day on Madeira Island. Tomorrow, we planned a visit to Porto Moniz after hiking one of the most famous and popular routes on the island: “PR6 – Levada das 25 Fontes“. Don’t miss the next post.
Points of Interest:
“Miradouro dos Balcões” (Balconies Viewpoint), Ribeiro Frio Forest Park.
- Taste the “prego em bolo do caco” at “Faísca” restaurant.
- Visit Ribeiro Frio Forest Park.
- Park next to the “Faísca” restaurant or higher up next to the craft store and restaurant area.
114melevation gain uphill
127melevation gain downhill
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