Having done hundreds of kilometers of Madeiran levadas and veredas, I feel like iI’m in a good position to write a few words about a very important topic – safety on the trail. Divided into four categories, I present you some safety rules to keep in mind.
Before you go for a hike
Remember that the weather on Madeira changes often and fast – therefore you should not only check the most recent weather forecast for the part of the island you plan to explore, but also have a look at the online cameras spread all over Madeira (google “madeira webcams”) to see what the situation looks like at the moment.
Due to the forest fires and/or ocasional landslides, some trails might get closed from one day to another. It’s always best to consult the websites of SRPC or IFCN of Madeira (you can google “estado dos percursos”) to learn about any recent fires or see a list of closed trails.
Naturally, it is important to take proper hiking boots to keep your feet safe, stable and dry on any kind of terrain. Apart from that, be prepared for both cold and rain – a raincoat may come in handy even on a perfectly sunny day, as some of Madeira’s trails have water falling on the hiking path, especially in the tunnels. When heading to regions known for being a pasture land for cattle (mainly Paul da Serra, Fanal), you might consider wearing long trousers, as those areas tend to be home to lots of ticks. As a general rule, remember also about a hat – the sun is really strong on Madeira, so you can never be too careful about the sun protection. Use sunscreen, too!
As for food and water, you should always take supplies for more than you actually plan to spend on the trails, just in case you get lost or something unpredicted happens. Speaking of unpredicted – never forget about the first aid kit! Good maps (I recommend openstreetmap for detailed maps of levadas and forest paths), as well as a flashlight (crucial when there are tunnels on your way) can both be provided by your smartphone, but you shouldn’t rely only on that one device and one battery! To feel more relaxed on a trail, I always carry with me not one, but two powerbanks.
It’s always best to start the hike early, so that you never get surprised by a nightfall while still in the middle of the woods or mountains. You should let a few people know where exactly you’re going and when you plan to come back. If possible, take some company, it’s safer and more fun in a group. Write down or memorize the safety numbers to call in case of emergency. And always – if you don’t feel secure on the path, turn around and go back.
Maciej Śpiewakowski. Polish volunteer at AAUMa, passionate about journalism, photography, music and travels.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.