PR 3 –Vereda do Burro (Pico do Areeiro – Ribeira das Cales)
Footpath linking Pico do Areeiro and Funchal ecological Park Welcome Centre, passing through areas with typical high-altitude flora and fauna of Madeira.
Special note also for the Poço da Neve on this route, a unique igloo-shaped construction, dated from 1813, which is part of the regional heritage. At the end of the walk, the exploration of the valley of Ribeira da Cales reveals indigenous vegetation along the banks of the stream and access to small waterfalls ans pools tha are part os the watercourse.
The upper end of the walk is at an elevation of 1805 metres, a little below the summit of Pico do Areeiro (1818 metres), which is the third highest point of the island. The first part of the trail gives us a broad panoramic view over the valley of Ribeira do Cidrão, which flows into the Ribeira dos Socorridos at Curral das Freiras, and beyond, the western mountain massif of Madeira Island, where the Paul da Serra plateau is located.
The Poço da Neve, the next point to visit, is about 1.7km from the beginning of the walk. It is a reservoir built in 1813 used in former times to store snow (neve, hence its name) and sleet which sporadically fall on the highest mountains above Funchal. The ice was used in hospitals, hotels and ice crema making until the first half of the 20th century, when the first ice makers appeared in Madeira.
The continuation of the path to the head of Ribeira das Cales provides the chance to see species characteristic of the high altitude, some of them very rare in the madeiran flora, such as madeira rowan or Madeira mountain ash (Sorbus madeirensis), or other more common species, such as the heaths, (Erica playtIcodon and Erica arborea), Madeira blueberry ( Vaccinium padifolium) and trees such as the holly (Ilex perado), and the bay tree ( Laurus novocanareiensis). Various species oF Passeriformes are commonly sighted in these areas, among them Bertelof´s pipil (Anthus berthlotti madeirensis) and the firecrest (Regulus madeirensis).
The valley of Ribeira das Cales is a continuing discovery along the trail that alternates between the left bank at the start and later continues the right bank it is near the Funchal Ecological park Welcome Centre.
Detail Distance: 7,2 km Degree of dificulty: Easy Duration: 2h40 m Start/End: Pico do Areeiro / Ribeira das Cales - Receção Parque Ecológico do Funchal Max. Altitude/Min. Altitude: 1805 m / 1130 m