Gardens of Madeira
Set in a bright blue sea, some 400 miles off the coast of Africa, lies the lush, volcanic Portuguese island of Madeira. Just 36 miles long and 14 miles wide, it is an island of outstanding natural beauty. Much of the island is assigned as a conservation area where rare flowers cover the island like a green mantle. Orchids, bougainvillaea, lilies, hydrangeas, magnolias, jacarandas and azaleas bloom effortlessly throughout the year, and delight the eye at every turn. One of the nicest ways to explore the island is by following the footpaths alongside the “levadas” (small man-made irrigation canals), which wind their way around the island, and we have included a gentle half-day levada walk, with the opportunity to take further walks on your free days.
We also visit the splendid Palheiro Gardens (formerly called the Blandy Gardens), which for many visitors are the best of all Madeira’s horticultural wonders. The gardens, established over several generations, are most famous for their camellias, though there is something here for everyone with green fingers, including a wonderful spread of agapanthus and arum and belladonna lilies in season. At Monte, a fashionable hill town above Funchal, we visit the Monte Palace Gardens, glorious gardens that surround the château-like Monte Palace. Getting there is an experience in itself, as the cable car ride from Funchal to Monte offers stunning views over the harbour and bay.
Our May departure is timed to coincide with Madeira’s Flower Festival, when the streets are carpeted in flowers and colourful displays can be seen on every corner.
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What to Expect
- Tour of the Botanical Gardens, an introduction to the flora of Madeira
- A gentle walk on the ‘levadas’
- Cable-car ride to Monte
- Optional full-day tour of the island
- Afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace Hotel