Spectacular Sunrise Hike to Pico Ruivo (PR1.2)

aka. views definitely worth waking up early for…

Observing sunsets and sunrises on Madeira Island is something I will never get tired of. Seeing the sun rising above Madeira’s beautiful landscapes has something magical in it. It is bliss, peace, tranquillity, and beauty. It can energize you for the entire day to come, and calm you down…. at the same time.

This time, we would like to show you the sunrise we were blessed with on our way from Achadas do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo (Madeira PR1.2 hike).

Our unusual Pico Ruivo story – 2020

First we saw the sunrise…

No, we did not arrive early enough, nor were equipped right for a hike in the dark. We will do that next time. This time, we decided to start with a sunrise somewhere around Achada do Teixeira, and only then – after the sunrise – start the actual hike – Vereda do Pico Ruivo (PR 1.2).

Were we disappointed? Not at all. Before our eyes, we had a spectacle of golden sun breaking through the white and fluffy carpet of clouds as far as we could see. It was a truly magical moment, the beauty of which cannot be reflected in movies or photos.

The area around Achada do Teixeira is a perfect location, if you are not fit enough to hike, as it requires just a short walk from the parking lot.

This blissful silence when you can only hear the rustle of grass and light gusts of wind, those landscapes, those colors, this positive energy – you just have to experience it for yourself…

Sunrise and sunset watching clearly deserves to be one of the 20 best things to do while visiting Madeira Island:

…then we started the PR1.2 hike…

When the sun rose so high, that it was no longer possible to look at it, we decided to get going. Starting the Vereda do Pico Ruivo hike after sunrise allowed me to capture short moments like this:

The September weather was ideal, while mountain tops were wrapped with clouds and beautifully lit by the golden sun…

Every single step allowed us to enjoy almost unrealistically beautiful, clear views.

Madeira – It does not matter which way you will go – it will be beautiful anyway…

After around 30 minutes of a rather flat walk we arrived at the shelter, where the PR1.2 route meets the famous PR1.

That’s also where the steepest part of the Vereda do Pico Ruivo hike started… but the views were clearly worth it.

About half a kilometre of active climbing, we finally found ourselves… on the roof of Madeira.

Being 1,861 metres high, Pico Ruivo is the highest peak of Madeira and offers panoramic views, weather permitting. Opposite to Pico do Arieiro (the third highest peak), there is no webcam streaming weather conditions live. (See: All webcams on Madeira)

… and then Pico Ruivo surprised us even more!

We expected magical views. Judging by how busy the parking lot downstairs was, we also expected a lot of hikers on top. But no, we did not expect at all what we actually saw on top of Pico Ruivo.

Not only we met a big group of martial arts students performing kata and posing for pictures… but also local Latin dancers, like ourselves. If someone had told me that going up the mountain I would be dancing above the clouds, I probably wouldn’t have believed it, but well… It ended up not only with unforgettable memories but also a nice, new friendship…

By the way – do we have any dancers here? Connect with us on Instagram 🙂 !

Sunrise hike or not, here are some practical tips about the famous Madeira PR 1.2 trail.

Pico Ruivo hike – PR1.2 – Practical Tips

Pico Ruivo hike – Map

The trail leads up along the ridge that separates the Faial hills from Santana hills. It begins at Achada do Teixeira, which is the destination you should put in your car navigation.

Pico Ruivo hike – Route & difficulty

The distance is 2 x 2,8 Km and it should take you approx 1:30h (unless just like us, you will meet some interesting people…).

The degree of difficulty is moderate. The official website incorrectly specifies the min/máx altitudes as 1857 m / 1852 m. The actual incline is approx 260m. Achada do Teixeira lies just below 1600m, and Pico Ruivo at 1852m.

[Click to enlarge] Source: Visit Madeira

The route is very well-marked and there are a couple of picnic spots and small shelters on the way. It is a comfortable, rock-paved path with beautiful views on both sides.

Very frequently, the PR 1.2 hike is only a small part of the full-day PR1(Vereda do Pico Areeiro) hike, which is one of the most difficult, but very popular and beautiful trails in Madeira:

For many tourists, it will be too difficult do walk Vereda do Pico Areeiro both ways. Multiple tour operators offer tours, where you are being dropped off at one peak and picked up from the second a couple of hours later. This is a very convenient solution, as you are also being picked up and dropped off at your accommodation. Check out the offer:

Pico Ruivo hike – How to get there / Parking

If you are coming by car, you can park it at the big, free Parking PR1.2 Achada do Teixeira:

How to get to Pico Ruivo without a car? You definitely are not able to reach any of the peaks directly with public transport. You can reach at most the nearby town of Santana (bus lines 56, 103 or 138) and then order a taxi to the beginning of the route.

Optionally, you could try hitch-hiking. I have completely no experience with that, but a couple of budget travellers we interviewed some time ago can tell you all about it:

You could try to look for co-travellers on one of the Madeira travel groups on Facebook.

Pico Ruivo hike – Hikes in the area?

If you start your day early with the sunrise on Pico Ruivo, you will be done by 9-10 a.m. and you will have enough time left to continue with another, longer trail.

Besides Vereda do Pico Areeiro (PR1), the PR 1.2 trail also connects with Vereda da Encumeada (PR1.3) and Vereda da Ilha (PR 1.1). Both trails are moderately difficult and beautiful. Vereda da Encumeada should take around 5 hours, while Vereda da Ilha – approx 3 hours.

Pico Ruivo hike – My rating

I have visited Pico Ruivo multiple times, and it was always a beautiful experience. We highly recommend visiting this place during the sunrise.

It is a reasonably short hike, one of the best options for those less-fit travellers, who dream about seeing beautiful mountain peaks wrapped in dreamy clouds.

Do you like our hike reviews? Check out other hikes we featured:

And you? Have you already climbed the Pico Ruivo? Share your tips <3

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