Monday: Make your way to your chosen airport for the flight to Funchal, where on arrival we will transfer you to your chosen hotel for check in and free time before dinner. Passengers on later flights may be offered a cold platter if your arrival is after normal dinner service.
Tuesday: After breakfast, there will be a welcome meeting in which you will be introduced to the area and given the opportunity to book the optional excursions. The rest of the day is at leisure until dinner.
Wednesday: Optional tour of Madeira’s West Coast (£42pp) Our journey begins along the south coast of the island. From Funchal, we depart towards Quinta Grande, passing through villages with cultivated terraces, then continue to Ribeira Brava. Here there will be a short stop to visit the church before carrying on to Ponta do Sol and Madalena do Mar, where you will visit a banana plantation. After this we head north into the island’s interior and climb up to the Paul da Serra plateau, the only flat area on the island, at 1,400 metres. Here there is a nature reserve listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, with vast laurissilva forests stretching away to the north, often covered by a rainforest-like carpet of mist from the expiration of the foliage. We continue north-eastwards to the northernmost tip of the island and the village of Porto Moniz and its famous natural pools carved into the lava. We then drive along a section of the oldest and most beautiful of the island's roads - the Corniche coastal road - narrow, carved into the rock, with a steep, vertiginous drop over the sea. This magnificent road leads to the village of Sao Vicente, on the north coast. We stop for lunch in Sao Vicente, and there will be a little time to explore the village, then from here we cross the island north to south via the Encumeada Pass (1,007m), from where, in clear weather, you can see two sides of the island at once. We conclude the tour at Cabo Girao, one of the highest cliffs in Europe (610m), where you will have an amazing view over Funchal.
Thursday: Day at leisure.
Friday: Optional excursion to Quintas and Gardens (£52pp) Botanists and horticulturalists alike will love this day out visiting some of the Funchal area’s most prestigious gardens. We go first to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, 70,000 square metres of exotic plants plus a lake with free-ranging peacocks, Icelandic white swans and Tasmanian black swans. Also included is the Monte Palace Museum boasting a display over two floors of African sculptures and a collection of over 1,000 mineral specimens, with over 300 semi-precious and precious gems including rough and cut diamonds. Next, we descend nearer to sea level to visit Quinta do Palheiro Garden, also known as Blandy Garden and much cited in literature as one of the most beautiful in the world. The garden dates from 1801 and is rich in colour and scent, with a magnificent collection of camellias, centennial trees, a rose garden and a myriad of other flowers and climbers. The final stop in our trio is the Quinta Vigia Garden in Funchal, formerly a villa and home to a succession of European and Russian aristocrats, but now the official residence of the President of Madeira. The garden features a variety of indigenous and exotic plants, trees and birds, and affords gorgeous panoramic views over the harbour. We return to the hotel from here.
Saturday: Day at leisure.
Sunday: One final relaxing day in resort.
Monday: After breakfast, at the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home