Wandering West Madeira with Lido Tours

Cabo Girao, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide
Another holiday post tonight and as I mentioned in my Exploring East Madeira with Lido Tours update, we booked the West tour in the office and we went on the Friday, which was our last full day of our holiday. We were picked up early again, well around 9am after we had to wait for another passenger; we were the last to be dropped off in the evening, I think around 5pm. We had an 18-seater minibus again and I think there were 16 of us on board. Our tour guide was Marco, who conducted the tour in English and French. Alfie had a proper baby seat this time around, which he loved, as it was similar to his one at home and certainly looked more comfortable. We stuck him next to the window.

It’s true that the guide makes the experience, as through their descriptions and updates their personality and humour shines through. I bet Marco was pleased when he was finished for the day as he honestly did not stop talking – fair play to him. Unfortunately, it meant I switched off after lunch, it was just too much to take in, too quickly. Of course, the other half of the experience is the locations and stops you do – and had we not embarked on the East tour first, we wouldn’t have had such high expectations. I much preferred the East tour, just because during the stops we had more time to explore and it was much more village and small town-focused. The West tour was more photo stops and scenery – perfect if you’re into photography or landscapes!

Because we weren’t told the specific names of any of the places and there certainly weren’t any signs as we got off the bus, I’ve had to piece this together from my photos, my notes on my phone and also the tour description on the Lido Tours website... bear with me!
Cabo Girao, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide
Our first stop was Cabo Girão, supposedly the highest sea cliff in Europe. It was a short walk to the viewpoint, which was beautiful – surrounded by large trees, we were sheltered from the morning sun. The central part of the viewing platform was made of glass, so you could see the Atlantic and coastline below. The views of the ocean were spectacular and the waters were so blue. There were some really lovely little souvenir shops selling local handicrafts including embroidery and wooden toys... but no purchases for us this time.
Ribeira Brava, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide, Church, Baroque,
From here, we made our way to Ribeira Brava. We got a glimpse of the town from the valley before arriving and the terracotta-roofed white buildings were particularly striking. It was a longer stop here, so we went for a little walk around the village, before stopping for a coffee (juice for Alfie). We had just enough time to saunter into one of the shops and get a quick photo of the church of Saint Benedict. Dating back to the sixteenth century, the Baroque features are impressive.  I think it’s open to the public most days, but we didn’t go inside.
Serra de Agua, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide
We drove north, up the mountain pass, going through the valleys of Serra de Água, with its irrigated ravines that looked like ridges within the landscapes, almost liked corrugated card or iron. The area is also famed for saw milling and we drove past a place where timber was stored and getting loaded onto the back of lorries, ready for turning into paper/card and exporting. At the summit, we reached Encumeada – no photos here though.
Sao Vicente, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide, Hydrangea,
São Vicente was our next place of interest and I couldn’t help but marvel at and photograph some hydrangea. They seemed to grow everywhere on the island and always added a burst of colour – so pretty. I think it was here that we were able to see the three highest peaks of Madeira: Pico Ruivo (1,862m), Pico das Torres (1,851m) and Pico do Areeiro (1,818m). We also stopped at a point where we were able to see both the north and the south of the island, almost at the same time. The south was certainly greener and lusher, while the north was more rugged.
Porto Moniz, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide
Lunch was had in Porto Moniz and this was another area that the tour lost marks. On the East tour, our guide arranged lunch – booking a table at a local restaurant, for those that wanted it – all we had to do was choose our main course and pay a set price. On this tour, Marco recommended a restaurant, but we didn’t eat as a group, which was a shame as then we weren’t able to get to know our fellow passengers. We went with his recommendation and ate at Mar a Vista. It was a restaurant frequented by locals and tourists, but the service was so slow – it took about half an hour for someone to take our order, and even longer to ask for the bill and then pay for it. Understandably, Alfie was getting bored and frustrated... hell, I was bored and frustrated too! It was lucky that Marco gave us just under three hours for lunch.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time then to explore Porto Moniz and its complex of lava pools (we hadn’t packed swimwear anyway) and although Alfie had 10 minutes to play in a little park, he then didn’t want to leave and threw a paddy all the way back to the bus. There certainly was no time to get an ice cream – and we’d not be stopping again anywhere with such amenities.
Seixal, Madeira, Travel, Tour, Lido Tours, Guide
Well, we walked around Seixal for a little bit. The bus dropped us at the bottom, where we could see black-sand beaches and watch the waves from the Atlantic crashing into the lava rocks. It was then a steep incline to where the bus was waiting for us. But not enough time to take it all in, or fully explore the area – it was more take a photo and move on.

On our way back to the capital, there were plenty of waterfalls cascading from the sides of mountains. We stopped once at the side of the road to get photos, before Marco pulled in for those that wanted to get off the bus to take photos. I certainly wasn’t too bothered, having seen some pretty impressive waterfalls in the UK over the last couple of years. I was happy just photographing from the window. From here, it was back to the hotel stops.

As I said, if you’re into the landscapes and geology of the island, you’d love the tour – there was one woman dressed for hiking who must have taken over 200 photos. I would imagine that the walking tours on the West are pretty intense, but if it’s something you’re interested in, opt for one of those rather than the bus tour. I honestly think we were totally spoilt on the East tour and we had such high expectations and for me, it just didn’t live up to what I imagined. But looking online, the reviews for the East tour are better than the West anyway. I am glad we got to experience both, as of course, it was two good days out and got us exploring and learning.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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