Hiking Sao Lourenco with kids. Madeira

Madeira has categorised its more popular hikes with the letters PR…. PR8 is the ‘Ponta de Sao Lourenco’ hike. Walking from car park to the final tip is an undulating but not difficult 9km walk.
Sao Lourenco

The cliffs of Sao Lourenco.

We’ve done this walk twice; once just Emma and the kids and the second time with Rich, the boy and I. The first time we ran out of light to complete it and this is not the type of walk you want to do in the dark! The second time we made it back in time for the sun setting across the rocks.
This is the map of our hike:
Sao Lourenco

I used LiveTrekker to document our trip

 Sao Lourenco

Situated on the very eastern point of the Island there are several walks around here ranging from 1.5km – 9km return.
Don’t be put off by the number of coach tours and tourists in the car park. Many don’t make it off the viewing area and some only make it to the very first peak.
Sao Lourenco

The start of the walk and the very first peak in the distance. It’s about 1.5km round trip to this hill.

parking

There is ample parking for at least fifty cars and it nearly always looks busy – judging from the amount of cars. It is a popular walk but not that popular lol.

The start of the walk

Leaving the car park you can either circumnavigate the cliffs to the right or walk on the pathway to the left. We chose to do both.

On the cliffs to the right are sections where people have built stone towers. It tends to be busy with the ‘selfie-queens’ who then go back to the car park!

Sao Lourenco

The viewing point next to the car park

Seascapes

Very quickly into the walk, less than 5 minutes, you’ll notice the spectacular scenery. To your right (west) you have the calmness of the south side of the Atlantic and to you left (east) you can see often huge waves battering the coast line. There are frequent rock slides on the eastern side of the walk and you can see the giant boulders having tumbled into the water.

The drop down to the ocean is just a small 50m and often the rope barrier to safeguard you is missing. It is frequently quite windy so do watch your step.

Sao Lourenco

A seascape of Sao Lourenco

Serentity of the west ocean

Sao Lourenco

The calm waters to the west

Sao Lourenco

Calm waters

the rough sea of the east

The sea to the west is really rough and the waves pummel the coast line. There is considerable sea damage to the western side with frequent rockfalls.

Sao Lourenco

The western coast of Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco’s western coast

 Typically it is on the eastern side of the pathways where the protective railing (if you can call it that) is missing.  Of course, this is the part that is most interesting and you’re tempted to wander off the track to peer down!
Sao Lourenco

Building stone towers on Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Trying to overlook a rock slide….

Biodiversity

In this gorgeous but windy zone you can discover and enjoy beautiful samples of unique fauna and flora species. When we went the contrasting greens of the lushious grass and the purples of the newly sprouting flowers were vivid and contrasting.

In comparison to the rest of the island which is full of trees, this part has none. This is due to the semi-arid climate and the WINDS!

 The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve. Of the 138 species of plant identified on the peninsula, 31 are exclusive to Madeira.

Sao Lourenco

Flowers along the walk.

Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco flowers.

Sao Lourenco

Flowers on the hike.

Sao Lourenco

Plants growing overlooking the building and final peak.

Undulating pathways of sao lourenco

The pathways are well maintained and nothing too strenuous. You climb a total of 222m and we did the return hike in 3h15.

Sao Lourenco

Admiring the view

Sao Lourenco

Admiring the cliffs of Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Steps set into the rock

curious rock formations

The result of volcanic origin, this part of the island is full of weird and wonderful rock formations. Mainly made of basalt although there are also some limestone sediment formations.
Sao Lourenco

Rock formations of Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

The cliffs of Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco rock formations

Thin pensinsula

The moderately undulating paths climb fine cliff scenery along the (at times very) thin peninsula. The paths are good condition but whether you get close to the edges is up to you lol.
Sao Lourenco

Imogen on thin pathways with jagged rocks below.

Sao Lourenco

Thin passage way paths.

Sao Lourenco

Thin pathways

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The boy approching a thin peninsula

Birds

Along the route you can often see several bird species such as the Berthelot’s Pipit, the Goldfinch, the Common Canary and the Kestrel. More likely though is that you’ll hear them and not be able to spot them. On one bank in particular, you can see the canaries madly fluttering around but they’re too quick to photograph.

The Madeiran lizard, which is the island’s only reptile, is very common here. We saw the one below basking in the sunlight on a rock.

Sao Lourenco

A lizard basking in the sun

Did you spot a sea wolf?

In the sea, you may be lucky enough to spot the world’s rarest seal, known in Madeira as a Sea-wolf (Monachus monachus). We didn’t see one but if you book a trip to the deserted islands, you’re 100% guaranteed a viewing of the colony that live there.

Sardinha Point

The Sardinha house, named after its old owners, is easily identifiable as the only building on the walk. From here, in the summer, you can take the short walk down the port and take a dip! I am told that during the summer it is glorious down there.

The Sardinha house is now a base for Madeiran Natural Park Rangers and who are responsible for maintaining the area.

Sao Lourenco

Sardinha House on Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Sardinha house on Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Sardinha swimming point

the final climb

Climbing up past the house is a steep set of steps which leads to the very end of the trail.  It is by far the steepest part of the hike but it is definitely worth the effort.

Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco peak

Sao Lourenco

The final step of steps leading to the final peak

Sao Lourenco

The penultimate set of steps leading to the peak

 

The view

From here, to the South you can see the Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and to the North the Porto Santo Islands.

Sao Lourenco

The deserted islands as seen from Sao Lourenco

Sao Lourenco

Porto Santo faintly glistening on the horizon

Sao Lourenco

The view over to the two islets

Sao Lourenco

The view of the lighthouse and islets.

The islets

At the end of the Point there are two islets: the Desembarcadouro Islet and the S. Lourenço Point or Fora Islet. These are inaccessible on foot as they are not connected to a path.

Making it back in time for sunset

Sao Lourenco

The sunset

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