PR1 Vereda do Arieiro
Date: Saturday 4th November 2023
Company: Just myself
Time: c.4Hrs 30Mins

PR1, the Vereda do Arieiro, is a trail which connects three iconic points of Madeira including the highest peaks on the island. The walk starts at Pico do Arieiro (1818m), passes through Pico das Torres (1851m) via a series of tunnels, and ends at Pico Ruivo (1862m).

On arriving in Madeira on 23rd October, I found out that due to a landslide the day previous the trail was officially closed. Luckily, the trail re-opened on 4th November allowing me to undertake this walk. Please note that when trails are closed, walking them is forbidden and you can be fined for doing so.

As this walk is a traverse, if using a hire car you would need to undertake the walk both out and back which will double the required effort and time. If you want to undertake the walk in one direction, there are no public buses which can take you to each end. You therefore either need to hire a private transfer to drop you off at one end and pick you up at the other allowing you to self-guide going at your own pace, or the simplest option is to book with one of numerous companies which will drop you off, pick you up and provide a guide to accompany you.

I used Madeira Explorers which cost 42Euros for pick-up from hotel, drop of at Pico do Arieiro, guided walk along to Pico Ruivo, pick up at Achada do Teixeira, then dropped back at hotel.

For this walk you literally start from the end of the public road below the summit of Pico de Arieiro. At the start of the walk there is a cafe, shop and toilets. Before commencing the walk, we had ten minutes to go to shop/cafe/toilet or ascend to the summit of Pico Arieiro. I opted to ascend Pico Arieiro!

In hindsight, I would have preferred the self-guide option as I like walking at my own pace and stopping when I want to stop. Walking with the group meant walking at the pace of the slowest group member. You also have to constantly stop and start as the guide explains everything in a multitude of languages . On the plus side, you receive details of local flora and fauna as you walk along.

Pico Arieiro radome:

View from the summit of Pico Arieiro:

Once regrouped we set off walking with the guide. Most people undertaking this walk were not using a guide. It would be very difficult if not impossible to lose the path as you just need to follow the hordes of people all doing the same route. This is the most popular walk in Madeira (graded Difficult).

Verada do Pico Ruivo:

As the starting point is near the summit of Pico Arieiro, for the first few kilometres the walk is mostly downhill.

Easy initial walking:

Mountain view:

A very well constructed path winds its way along and through the mountains. You do however have to take care not to trust the fixed barriers as some have come loose in recent storms. The biggest danger is walking the narrow paths with people doing the walk in both directions with numerous arrogant individuals who just push past.

Looking back towards the radome atop Pico Arieiro:

Following the good track around the hill:

To see the flora at its best, this walk is best undertaken in spring or summer. At this time of year, most flowers had already gone.

Pride of Madeira:

Heading towards Pedra Rija:

Steps leading downhill:

A good decription of the walk was provided by one of my followers on Twitter. It's like they've built a road to each end of the Cuillin ridge and a path along the ridge. As far as the number of people is concerned, it is akin to walking Ben Nevis, Snowdon or Scafell Pike on their busiest days.

Looking back towards steps:

Mountain view from Pedra Rija:

At Pedra Rija:

The walk takes you into some incredible situations with narrow paths winding their way along the cliffs. If you suffer from vertigo, this walk is maybe not for you.

Heading back uphill with considerable drop to right:

Looking back at traverse (handrail visible):

On looking towards Pico Ruivo from Pico Arieiro, I wondered how the heck we could get between them as I could see no natural route. I didn't realise there were a number of tunnels making the route somewhat easier. If doing this route it would be useful to carry a torch for the tunnels or just use the torch on your phone.

Heading into the first of several tunnels:

Steep downhill section:

If doing this walk on your own, as well as being able to follow lots of people, there are also waymarkers.

One of several waymarkers:

I particularly enjoyed the sections skirting round the cliffs. This reminded me of walking the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi coast, Italy.

Skirting round the mountain:

Mind your head on rocks above:

Heading into the second tunnel:

Good track:

During the walk we saw a number of Red-legged Partridge, numerous Chaffinch and a Kestrel.

One of several Red-legged Partridge:

Waterfall when it rains, today dry:

Heading towards a third tunnel:

Near the low point we stopped for a fifteen minute break to have a drink and bite to eat.

Pico Ruivo ahead from third tunnel exit:


Another section skirting round the hillside:

The most difficult part of the walk was the ascent of numerous ladders which take you up the steepest section of the route. It was only difficult because of the heat (25C).

The first of several ladders on the steepest section of the walk:

Our group, lass from Norway:

Beyond the ladders, on approach to Pico Ruivo, we passed an area with numerous dead trees.

One of numerous dead trees:

Looking back:

It was great to now see the summit of Pico Ruivo ahead.

Pico Ruivo:

More dead trees:

Only 0.5km further to go to reach the summit:

Below the summit of Pico Ruivo is a house with a shop and public toilets. On reaching the house, the guide finally let us set off at our own pace to the summit. I therefore stepped-up several gears.

At the summit of Pico Ruivo:

View from the summit of Pico Ruivo:

View from the summit of Pico Ruivo:

View from the summit of Pico Ruivo:

Looking back to the starting point (the radome on Pico Arieiro):

Mountain view:

At the summit of Pico Ruivo:

Please note that the shop is not cheap. It cost me 7 Euros for two cans of juice. Expensive compared to a standard shop, but still really cheap compared to a Swiss mountain hut where you need to take out a mortgage to buy anything.

At the house/shop below the summit:

We spent around an hour at the shop before commencing the descent to Achada Do Teixeira. It was again nice to descend at our own pace and not all together as a slow group.

Looking back towards the starting point during the descent to Achada Do Teixeira:

Approaching the car park:

In the car park at the end of the walk:

I really enjoyed this walk .