Tuesday 5 July 2022

Madeira May 2022 - Logistics and Itinerary

Madeira 20-23rd May 2022

This trip was organised by my buddy Mick S and he kindly invited me to tag along. I was at a low ebb after a tiring few months, had nothing planned, and the plane ticket for the flight he was already booked on was surprisingly reasonable. Why not eh? So about a week or so before departure he changed his hotel bookings to twin beds, got me booked on his whale watching trip (aka pelagic substitute), and arranged to pick me up in the middle of the night for a crazy-early departure from Heathrow. I provided all the camera equipment as just before the pandemic Mick liquidated all his, fortunately I have enough for two birders. We were off!

  • A four day trip in late May, departing London at the crack of dawn on Friday and returning early on Monday evening. This allowed for just under three and half days of birding.
  • Flights: Direct from Heathrow to Funchal on BA. I think this would normally be a Gatwick flight but post-pandemic things are still a little mixed up.
  • Covid logistics: a big fat nothing.  
  • Car Hire: A Citroen Cactus from Europecar. In Madeira you do need something with at least a medium-sized engine to get you up the incredible hills.
  • Accommodation: Two nights at the centrally located Lido district next to the coast, and then the final night in a great spot high above Funchal. This was the result of a screw-up rather than any pressing need to move, but it was a pleasant change!
  • Food: All I am going to say is don't travel to Portugal with vegans if you can possibly help it!
  • Literature: This was my fourth trip to Madeira so I knew a lot of the good spots. eBird seems to be barely used over there, but nonetheless I was able to find a couple of new places, both of which delivered the goods.


Day 1: Landed at 10.30am and were birding at Machico and out on the Sao Lourenco peninsula before lunch. In the afternoon we explored the Lugar de Baixo and drove across the island to Porto Moniz.
Day 2: Whale watching trip in Funchal bay in the morning, and the Palheiro gardens and Ribeiro Frio during the afternoon before watching the sun set from the Pico do Arieiro.
Day 3: Back to Ponta de Sao Lourenco for the morning, and then up to Santo Antonio da Serra via Machico in the afternoon. Early evening spent watching the evening passage of Shearwaters off Lido, at the Ponta da Cruz.
Day 4: Mick went out on a boat for a second go at Shearwaters, I piddled around at Machico and the surrounding area. In the afternoon we went for a non-birding wander around Funchal botanical gardens before heading to the airport.

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