Tourist pressure in Pico do Areeiro

… is notorious

Pico do Areeiro at sunrise
Text and photos: Luís Rocha

In view of the recent publicity regarding the level of tourist activity there, the excellent Funchal Notícias website went to Pico do Areeiro on a typical day recently, and reported last weekend on their observations (translated and quoted here verbatim).

They were curious to assess the tourist concentration that is so much talked about. And it was on the same day that a car caught fire up there, setting fire to the bushes and forcing the authorities to fight what could have degenerated into a possible forest fire.

The journalist (quoted here verbatim) did not come across this occurrence, which he only found out about later. He did come across a somewhat unusual scenario.

Leaving the house still in the dark, before daybreak, the road to Pico do Areeiro made it impossible to guess what you would find. Only at the top, almost turning the curve that goes up to the car park and radar area, is there a real traffic jam of cars, many of which are rentals.

An event that seemed strange to us, under the dull clarity of the dawn that was announcing. But it was true: many people had the same idea and headed to the Juncal viewpoint area, in particular, and to the vicinity of the RTP radio antenna, to watch the spectacle of the sunrise.

Tourist pressure in Pico do Areeiro 1
Text and photos: Luís Rocha

There were young couples, not so young, entire families of the most diverse nationalities, entire groups, among which there were also some Madeirans. They weren’t doing anything wrong, but they filled the mountainous area almost like a theatre audience: an authentic and extensive audience waiting for the “play” to begin at Pico do Areeiro.

No shortage of poorly parked cars at Pico do Areeiro

However, there was no shortage of poorly parked cars, not least because, in the middle of the night, you couldn’t even notice the traffic lights or the yellow lines. And, with the car park completely full, the only options were to leave the car barely parked on the road, leaning against the curb, or go back downstairs, pure and simple.

Once the sun had risen, the tourists began to disperse, many of them leaving their cars in the parking lot, while they began, in single file, to walk the Pico do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo trail. An authentic transit, now this one, pedestrian.

Tourist pressure in Pico do Areeiro 3
Text and photos: Luís Rocha

We limited ourselves to verifying what we saw at Pico do Areeiro. Nobody was behaving uncivilly, however, the pressure of the number of tourists in these mountain places, was all too evident. It’s naturally good to have tourism – but we wondered if it wouldn’t be too much for the natural balance of our little island.

It took us about an hour to observe the surroundings at Pico do Areeiro. When we went down, it was almost 9 am, we already saw a PSP agent inside a police car taking notes (plates to fine?); further down, the road was interrupted, with an agent directing the private cars that continued to arrive to an improvised parking area on beaten earth, which in the dark had gone unnoticed.

The website concludes that “there is a lot of tourism in Madeira these days. There are even those who speak of mass tourism. It is good? Maybe yes maybe no. There are short-term economic benefits. But in the long run, Madeira, a small destination, can it handle it? It is something to meditate on and in the tourism model that we intend”.

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6 thoughts on “Tourist pressure in Pico do Areeiro”

  1. It’s August peak season and of course people want to go to the top of one of very few mountains in the world you can drive to the top and watch a sunrise.
    How many people are we really talking about , probable around 150 cars x an average of 3 people, 450 people in total.
    This really isn’t a big deal.
    We do this every 3 or 4 months and usually there is around 20 people at sunrise.

    • There is this paradox that you are saying that tourism in the island will be destroyed because the island is popular. But if the island is no longer popular then there will be less tourist so this means more tourists will come because there are less tourists? I am confused.

  2. Well will be arriving a time when the Madeira government will be oblige to allow a restrict number of visitors in the popular hikes to avoid to damage and destroy the trails .


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