How to see the sunrise in Pico Ruivo – Madeira’s highest peak 1862m
Over the course of the past few years, seeing the sunrise at Pico Ruivo, Madeira’s highest peak, has become one of the most popular things to do in our beautiful little island. It’s not for the faint of heart though, nor is it for those who like to sleep in but for those of you willing to do the work and to wake up early enough, I’m going to break down in this article what it takes and how to see the island’s best sunrise 😉
The first thing we need to realise is that Pico Ruivo is only accessible by foot. The fastest and easiest way to get there is from a place called Achada do Teixeira, in Santana. From Funchal it’s at least a one hour drive. From there you need to hike along the Vereda do Pico Ruivo trail which is approximately 2.8km and takes between 1 to 1:30 hours to complete. So basically you’ll have to leave Funchal 2:30 hours before the sunrise, assuming you know the way and don’t waste any time.
The hike itself is relatively flat but there are some steps, especially the last 300 meters or so towards the summit. On the hike you will need to be prepared, hiking boots, warm clothes, waterproofs, headlamps, sunscreen, etc. When you’re up in those altitudes it can be a hell of a lot colder than Funchal city, anytime of the year. Always take safety into concern, we don’t want you to become a news headline 😉
For more information on this trail check out the following link;
The most obvious time to do this hike would be in the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is most “predictable”. Of course the weather in Madeira can change rapidly and it’s very difficult to predict but if you’re planning this kind of adventure, you want to do it in the summer.
When we’re planning any kind of sunrise trip for our clients, we usually keep an eye on the weather the day before via the webcams and online weather predictions but it’s always a calculated risk and we always have a plan B ready, and will always divert if we think the adventure would be too risky.
If you’re going to try and predict the weather, I find this website to be most reliable;
As a guide, I’ve been up in Pico Ruivo for the sunrise and sunset various times and have found a couple of things to be true one being the importance of the moon. It may sound strange, but almost every time I’ve been up there during a full moon, the weather has been great. This of course isn’t set in stone but it’s definitely something I think of when planning such an adventure and it certainly makes for a more dramatic walk. Walking above the clouds, at night, with the full moon lighting the way, is something most people will never experience.
Just below the summit there’s a shelter house. At this moment in time it’s being used as a bar/coffee shop as well as an overnight stay accommodation. It’s very rustic and very basic and the it’s certainly the safest and most secure option to see either the sunrise or sunset in Pico Ruivo, or both of course! We stay there regularly and we recently filmed a video there, for your viewing pleasure 🙂
Getting back to the sunrise at Pico Ruivo, once the sun has come up and the magic is over you’ve then got 2 options. Either you hike back to the starting point at Achada do Teixeira or you continue your hike to another region of the island.
One of the most popular hikes on the island is the hike between the highest peaks, Vereda do Areeiro. It is possible to continue the hike to Pico do Areeiro, Madeira’s third highest peak. It’s an absolute stunning hike but not for the faint of hearted!
For more information regarding this hike, check out this post;
What a lot of people forget to take into consideration is the actual distance and physical effort this hike takes, especially if you’re going “one way” instead of organising transport through a company. Very often I find people at the extreme ends of these hikes asking for an alternative way back to their vehicle, of course many times this doesn’t exist.
Of course if all of this sounds a little bit too much like work, feel free to have a chat with us, we’ll be happy to help you organise a private tour up to the highest peak on the island!
For this particular family, we planned and executed a sunrise hike from Pico Ruivo to Pico do Areiro. We picked them up at their hotel, took them up to Pico Ruivo along with a photographer we hired to capture the sunrise and all the beautiful moments and then set off hiking towards Pico do Areeiro. After finishing the hike we had a local lunch and took them back to their hotel. This is a completely unique experience and for those adventurous to try it, usually very rewarding!
For those not so adventurous and looking for a similar, sun rising above the clouds experience, check out our Pico do Areeiro Sunrise Tour, starting at 45 euros per person for the shared tour and 185 euros for the private tour, which is almost as epic and most certainly a great day out as well!
Until next time, lets Hit The Road!