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This was a two part walking holiday,(in conjunction with Thomsons Sister company Exodus travel)two days in the forest at Encumeada followed by 5 days in Funchal. The first hotel is in a very scenic place with lovely views of the mountains and trees etc, but the hotel is very outdated and needs some tlc. It was a good idea only to stay for two days there as there is nothing to do at all. The hotel in Funchal was a good 3star hotel. Funchal is a very interesting and historic place and the people are extremely friendly. The dolphin and whale sightseeing boat trip was ok but it took a long while to find any whales and no dolphins at all! The best thing about the whole trip was my Guide, Andre. I was a lone female travelling on my own and was very very surprised to discover at Funchal airport I was in fact the only person on this tour. Despite my severe reservations about continuing the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and Andre was the most helpful, knowledgeable and funny man. I learnt so much about Madeira, its culture, fauna, politics, history, geology and football!! I fully intend to return to Madeira in the future to visit the museums and villages I missed the first time round. And maybe climb another mountain!!!
The walking is very easy though ankle-supporting boots are recommended as is a torch for the tunnels. The scenery ranges from pleasant to spectacular. The walks were varied and well-organised and our English-speaking guide, Inacio, was excellent. The Hotel Encumeada was in a wonderful, mountain location and the staff there were friendly. The restaurant was good too.The Quinta do Sol in Funchal was fine except for the receptionist who was unwelcoming. The room was good with an excellent balcony with sea view. This hotel wanted 10E for the use of a safe that was already in the room - perhaps there will be a coin slot on the bathroom door soon.The hotel has an excellent situation in Funchal in easy reach of the centre but with lots of restaurants nearby. Its buffet breakfast was of adequate quality though the coffee was terrible.
This was actually a 2 centre holiday, the first 2 nights meant to be spent in Encumedia. However, we only got one night in the mountains as our plane couldn't land on the Monday because of high winds and we spent the first night in Tenerife. The Encumedia hotel had a great location, but it was a bit run down. The hotel in Funchal was OK with a good choice for breakfast, but the cleanliness of the cups, glasses and cutlery left a lot to be desired. Madeira itself is a wonderful island with some fantastic walking for all levels with amazing flora and fauna. The weather wasn't fantastic, as we got a lot of showers and mist, but it didn't spoil our enjoyment. Most of the locals we met were friendly, with some good bars and restaurants. We will definitely be going back to Madeira.
This was a 2-centre holiday, starting with 2 days at Encumeada and then moving to Hotel Quinta do Sol in Funchal for the remaining 5 days. Although mostly involving walks, the holiday included a half-day dolphin/whale watching trip, which was fun v interesting, and certainly not something we would otherwise have chosen.
Our guide, Joe Olim, was superb and had a v impressive wealth and breadth of knowledge on all aspects of Madeira itself as well as flora, fauna, geology etc. He had a great sense of humour and was able to be flexible around our interests whilst still following the official itinerary. He was also a good driver as well as walk leader and we were very comfortable and confident with him.
The walks were varied in scenery and degree of difficulty and were all a reasonable length to be very enjoyable and interesting as well as containing a certain challenge.
The hotels were very different from each other but both were very comfortable and well-suited to our needs. There was little option but to have dinner in the first one as it is quite isolated, and the meals were filling though not very exciting. The hotel in Funchal has a large dining-room and is well situated for walking into the city where we enjoyed some excellent, inexpensive and very satisfying evening meals. We did not use the pool, fitness centre etc in this hotel but they looked good.
We particularly enjoyed being part of a small group (4 plus guide) which was very manageable. We went specifically for the walks and were well rewarded. We understand that this was the first of this type of holiday and we would sincerely hope there will be a Part 2.
This was a two-centre holiday arranged through Thomson but run by Exodus. The local Madeiran guide was excellent, and the walks stunning. The first hotel was in Encumeada. The staff were first class. Unfortunately the room was a bit damp which we put down to the torrential rain, and the hotel's mountain location. The views would have been stunning had the hotel escaped the clouds. Dinners were very good, but breakfasts disappointing. The second hotel was the Quinta Do Sol in Funchal. Again, the staff were excellent. The hotel has a great location - central, but set back off the road so that we never heard any traffic noise. We found a number of excellent restaurants, especially the Cafe Inn, nearby. Breakfasts were good, with the exception of the coffee, which must be the worst on the island. This was frustrating as the bar served excellent coffee, which was not available at breakfast - a false economy on the part of the hotel.
We loved the peninsula walk to Sao Laurenco, and the high peak walk to Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the island. Both walks are within the ability of any moderately fit walker. We would also recommend the dolphin watching boat trip, on which we saw two groups of common dolphin hunting. The island is quite hilly throughout, so a degree of fitness is a distinct advantage. However, we did see a number of elderly visitors enjoying themselves, making good use of the buses and taxis.
Overall, we had a terrific holiday.
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