The trekking from Pico do Areerio (or Arieiro) to Pico Ruivo is the most thrilling path in Madeira and we did it. We will try to “picture” the whole experience but nothing is compared to actually walk the walk.
These peaks are also known as the” Highest Peaks”. The 3 highest peaks of Madeira: Pico do Areeiro, Pico das Torres and Pico Ruivo. That was different hiking than our previous Levada hiking.
When you are at Pico Ruivo and on a sunny day you can have a 360-degree view of the island of Madeira. With clear skies you can see: Curral das Freiras, Porto Santo, Desertas, Ponta de São Lourenço, and many more locations.
When you start the route from Pico do Areerio (Arieiro) you can exit it at Achada Do Teixeira.
How to do the Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo path?
To get to Pico Ruivo, you start from Pico Arieiro at the radar dome. That starting point is easy to access. It is only 20km from Funchal through a really good road that ends to a big parking space. If you want to do this with a guide, then get this tour.
Better start early in the morning, to avoid the crowds as in different spots along the path, things can become from crowdy to dangerous due to narrow pathways and steep stairs.
Expect a really well-signed route. You can also take the small alternative route to Pico das Torres. It will be a shame not to visit that one.
The view from almost all route points is stunning.
Facts about the Pico Ruivo & Pico Areiro route
- The walk takes around 3.30 to 4 hours to complete (one way), depending on how .
- The official name of this walking route is Vereda Da Areeiro. You may see it like that too.
- The height of Pico Ruivo is 1862 mt.
- The height of Pico do Areeiro (or Pico do Arieiro) is 1817mt.
- The whole area is part of the Central Mountain Massif (integrated with the Natura 2000 Network).
- If you have fear of heights that is not the best route for you.
- There are different locations with stone carved steep stairs, plus more with actual iron stairs. Your quadriceps will get challenged.
- The route requires relatively good physical condition.
- Expect sudden weather changes.
Weather Along the Route
Better not be deceived by the ascending difference between Areeiro and Ruivo. It may sound like 1818 and 1862 respectively (so you think the difference is just 50mt) but that is not the actual situation.
At the central peak of Torres you need to go way down, only to go up by climbing different kinds of steep steps. That difference is from 300mt to something less to 1000mt.
Along that walk, you will encounter strong winds, mild or strong rain, strong sun while all these 3 may change rapidly as you walk.
Having a strong wind blowing behind you as you descend on stone carved steps takes lots of your attention. Some think that wearing regular sports shoes is safe. It is not. You need proper hiking gear.
There is no way to get protected from bad weather condition as you walk from Pico Do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo before you arrive at the summit. In winter time the summit is closed.
After that and towards Achada Do Teixeira, there are small stone build “shelters” just to get protected by rain, but that is the only thing.
Arriving at Pico Ruivo
The moment you see the small shelter you know that you are almost there.
However, you are not exactly there as you are in the trees.
When you arrive at the shelter, you need to walk uphill another 15 to 20 minutes to get to the very top plateau.
From there you can admire the fantastic surrounding view.
Take a break at the shelter or a refreshment (though it is a bit pricy).
The path to Achada Do Teixeira is only 2.2km from there and it is downhill without many surprises, except maybe some rain.
It is spectacular how the weather changed all the time.
Hiking Tips for this Route
- Do wear really good hiking shoes and have hiking poles.
- Don’t wear jeans. Wear hiking leggings. A pair of hiking pants will also do the job
- Have water. There is no option to refill along the route.
- Do have a light windproof and waterproof jacket that you can easily take on and off.
- Have snacks. You will get hungry.
- Expect some tunnels. Have a head-mounted flashlight.
Before Traveling to Madeira
- Book proper Travel Insurance. For backpackers specifically: Book after reading this post and use the link in it.
- Use this link to research for the best accommodation in Funchal (best option, instead of the villages).
- Book flights early. Use this link.
Our Thoughts for the Route
We were on an island with tropical forests doing all kinds of hiking next to Levadas. That route was on the same island of Madeira but a completely different stunning experience.
There were points where the muscles of our feet were so overworked that we were taking slow painfull ascending steps little by little.
Yet, aren’t such the ones that you remember as an accomplishment? Yeah, it was!
We suggest that you don’t skip this experience as every single view along the route will give you different feelings and perspective of things.
Being over the clouds is an experience by itself!