After having set my adventurous foot on three trails connecting Pico Ruivo with the south (Pico do Areeiro), the east (Achadas do Teixeira) and the north (Ilha), I once again channelled my inner explorer to check the last remaining path – Vereda da Encumeada (PR 1.3) going west, to the mountain pass at Encumeada.
And this vereda is no fooling around, this is not for Sunday hikers in flip-flops or the likes of a guy I once saw at roughly 1700 meters above sea level, carrying his equipment in a plastic bag from a well-known supermarket. This hike alone is 11,2 kilometers long and you still have to reach or descend from Pico Ruivo (depending on where you start the trail), so bear in mind that the whole thing will take at least 5 hours.
I began with the classic Pico do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo way, the trail that is the easiest to access from Funchal and that I’m already familiar enough with to do it in just an hour and half time. From the island’s highest summit, usually crowded with tourists, the trail heads west, and as you enter it, you immediately realize that from now on it’s going to be just you and the nature. Being quite long and demanding logistically, Vereda da Encumeada is not a popular hiking route, so you might find yourself being the only person on the trail. That’s right. You get 11 kilometers of mountain landscape just for your own, personal, exclusive viewing pleasure, and as you proceed along this difficult – marked by a lot of climbs and descents! – ridge walk, the trail rewards you with absolutely unique panoramas.
There is one spot from which you can see the ocean on both northern and southern shores of Madeira, which gives you a feeling of being nothing short than a king of the island. Then a bit later, as you get closer to Encumeada – and tired enough to swear never to do this bloody trail again – after yet another climb you suddenly see an outline of cloud-covered plateau of Paul da Serra, with only its tall wind turbines sticking out of the clouds. Seemingly – just hanging in the air. Absolutely stunning.
Moments like these you sit down on a rock, wipe the sweat off your forehead and simply stay like that for a while, a silly smile on your face.
You’re tired. But it’s a “good” tired.
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.