Macaronesian natural history
Our visit to the ’floating garden’ of Madeira has been designed to give us an opportunity to explore the diversity of the island’s habitats and look for a range of endemic wildlife along the way, all at a relaxed pace: a much-needed autumn break!
The mountainous centre of the island is cloaked in lush Laurisilva rainforests, the remnants of an ancient habitat that once spread across Europe. Now designated as a World Heritage Site, these moist, shady forests are home to a great diversity of endemic plants, notably several species of Laurel, as well as two endemic birds, the tiny Madeiran Firecrest and the shy Trocaz Pigeon.
Around the rugged coast we will find evidence of the volcanic nature of the islands and look for endemic house leeks and Pride of Madeira echiums. Higher up, the misty mountain tops support interesting heath communities, as well as offering stunning vistas down across the island.
The seas surrounding the island are rich in marine life, with Sperm Whale, Short-finned Pilot Whale and several species of dolphin amongst the resident species likely to be seen from our whale-watching boat trip. There will be the opportunity to take a day trip across to the arid Desertas Islands, with the chance to see the endemic Desertas Petrel alongside other seabirds, and perhaps even the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Madeira is renowned for its gardens, and we will visit a selection of the finest, where startling Monarch butterflies and Madeiran Wall Lizard can be found alongside the sub-tropical plants from around the world. We will also learn about the fascinating and dramatic geology of this scenic island. We will be accompanied by local guides, who will ensure we get the most out of our time on the island.
Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.