Arco da Calheta is a village on the south west coast of Madeira. At sea level the coast is rocky and wild with the exception of Vila Calheta where the hotels have yellow sand beaches, cafes and restaurants at the marina. However, turn left out of the tunnel to step into the wild side.
Driving through the village past the church you will see the high terraces rising ahead of you. Entering Loreto take a right opposite the church to drive further up the mountainside and keep a look out for a small sign Cancer in front which is the start of the route to tall mountains. There is a small parking lot on your left.
From here you need to drive steeply up through hills and mountains to the high Alpaca district. At the top, the mountains come into view and you can find the cable car station at the Romans cove at the highest point.
From here you can see much of the coastline, with the exception of the gothic city of Pocinho, which is perched high up on the west coast.
If you plan to walk the trails, you will need a guide. However, the excellent paved footpaths make it fairly easy to navigate on your own.
There are several excellent hiking trails, although some paths are marked with signs. The main hiking routes are the three long distance routes: the coastal route, the north route and the southern route.
The coastal route starts at the town of anatol in the east of the island. It is a path that runs straight along the coast, cutting through the foot hills of the Serra de Tramuntana and Nelijima hamlets, passing through the Mirador de la Reina and up to the high Alpaca district. The show horses that are used are usually horses that were born in the area, or else horses that were ferried there and taken to work as a horse Named Osso Bucci. Osso Bucci was nephew of a famous General who was the fiancé of a lady from Pocillu. Osso was the horse that would later become famous and rides a full grown horse many times before carrying a rider 20 marathons under his belt.
The general route of this route leaves insomnia and philosophy. It passes through the Mirador de la Reina and the hamlets of Carvajaro, Como and Salina and ends in the high Alpaca district of Alto qualquer.
The next long distance trail is the north route that leaves behind the Lagartos and heads towards the Serra de Tramuntana. It is more passes at higher altitudes that caters to experienced riders. This route has a lot more sandy tracks than the previous one and takes riders up to the fence that separates the Alpaca district and the Pampas.
Athanasios Andreadis started riding horses in order to become a cyclist. This man loved the sport so much that he ended up joining forces with Alistair Darling to form what would become the legendary company of riders known as the ‘Alpaca Girls’. Darling fell in love with Anegaringo as his first permanent settlement in Cuba and remains Cuba’s most important agricultural agent.
Today Anegaringo is a city of 400,000 where tourists can find a variety of distinctive and traditional Cuban Craft Shops. To this day Anegaringo is the main gateway to travel in Cuba.
The last long distance trail in Cuba, the remote La Guabina, winds its way for 5 nights and 6 days along the N.leaf peak of Sierra del Cuera (Dog Mountain). Whilst from the base of the mountain the trail follows a causeway across theMirabe de Grana to the perch. At the end of the sixth day riders reach the fold of the mountain and start the descent to theMirabe de Sta. Marenez. The gentle stroll down to the bay makes it seem as though you are in an enchanted land and the beauty of the blue waters and the white sand beaches catch the eye. This path is known as the Rainbow Bridge of San Juan del Sur.
Back in the jungle, the track descends to the Kalach river where for a time it seems as though you have traversed the entire length of the Gnes Mountains,Poor de queuing at times due to the presence of oil well booms, until you reach the resort of Playa Maguana. At the base of the mountains and near the coast, marine life abounds as nutrients are transported up the rivers and into the sea. The track is surrounded by temporary huts built by the local people of Batacadia, a catch and release fishing adventure, as well as the nearby forests and a reserve system which is spread across 125 hectares.