One of the most beautiful walks through Porto Santo allows one to enjoy the island from an altitude of 450 metres.
The Pico Branco e Terra Chã Slope is one of the best known trails on the island of Porto Santo. It is located on the northeast end of the island and is part of the recommended trails network.
It is ideal for fall and winter, when mild weather becomes an advantage, making the walk more pleasurable. Trails like this are an alternative, ‘when the beach does not look very inviting’, explains Sofia Santos, tour guide. The path allows for ‘a very holistic perspective of all the landscape elements the island has’, from the beach to the mountain and the sea.
The story goes that this trail was originally created for beasts of burden, connecting the path to Terra Chã, where inhabitants used to cultivate barley. It is about 2.7 kilometres to Terra Chã and the peak of Pico Branco. The walk is demanding, constantly climbing up, and with some stones on the way, ‘which makes even the heart of the bravest walker beat faster’, states Sofia Santos.
Near the top, the area known as Cabeço do Caranguejo, the landscape of bare rock is replaced by trees, planted early in 20th century. The view is one of green down to the sea.
Further ahead a bifurcation splits the path into two. Leftward is the path to reach the top of Pico Branco. A climb of over 200 metres. To the right is the trail to Terra Chã – 400 metres going down.
At over 450 metres of altitude, Pico Branco is the island of Porto Santo’s second highest spot. The panoramic view covers most of the island, ‘where you can glimpse small beaches and shores with impressive colours that contrast with all the elements’. To walk the trail to Terra Chã one need only return to the bifurcation and go right. The trail proceeds next to the slope, with views of the coast that come about as one continues to walk. Once arrived, one takes in the view of the south coast of Porto Santo.
Because it is a difficult to access place, Terra Chã is the place where the largest amount of flora indigenous to Porto Santo is concentrated. A true oasis!