A STORY ABOUT WHEN EPIC PEOPLE GET TOGETHER.
WOW, just WOW!
If we were to describe EPIC Madeira in one canyon, it had to be this one.
Here at EPIC Madeira, we have a young and very talented team, but one thing is certain, we never forget our history and at Madeira Island, we have a significant canyoning history, and as such, every time we can, we bring out the people that started it all to join us in some epic canyoning sessions.
Once again we had the privilege to team up with one of those Madeirian canyoning legends, the unique Nuno Cunha.
The plan was to make one of those wild canyons that we had been eager to do for quite some time, and it had taken even more dramatic proportions when we started to see all over social media some fantastic drone footage.
We just had to go there…
This canyon is named “Ribeira dos Pregos” and is located in Santana on the north side of the island.
It also gives you access to the fantastic place of Rocha do Navio.
Since no road leads there, you have only three ways to get there: By cable car, by hiking the trail that starts beside the cable car or alternatively, like we did, through canyoning. Well, maybe four ways since base jump is also an option😅 (yes, it has been done there before, and Nuno was behind it 😉).
Anyway, this is how it looks:
It’s also not one of those typical Santana canyons that are covered by the evergreen indigenous Laurel Forest of Madeira island, which most of the time has long approaches to get to it.
NO. This one is fully immersed in civilisation as it begins just beneath the freeway.
The canyon is located just after the “Cortado” tunnel, and that’s why it also has a Sui generis manner to get into since you can rappel down from the freeway bridge straight into the canyon.
However, this wasn’t our choice since there’s also a trail beside it that leads to a well-positioned tree which you can safely rappel from.
By now you can imagine this isn’t our typical canyoning location, and it’s not only the beginning that’s unique. How about this end?
We’ll leave the comments to you since it left us speechless.
Introductions made, let’s talk canyoning.
To our knowledge, this canyon was only descended twice before, the first descent on the opening day and another by a local canyoning team some years back.
As if all of these weren’t reasons enough to make it memorable, the person that led that opening was none other than Nuno.
So as you can see, there are a lot of things that make this canyon special, and being there with the first descender, we were in not only for a good time but also a lot of storytelling accompanied by EPIC waterfalls and astonishing views.
Nuno opened this canyon 20 years ago when only a handful of people did canyoning in Madeira, on that expedition, a team of Spanish canyoneers accompanied him.
Since this canyon only saw two descents, some preparation was needed, and a lot of gear had to be taken: Ropes, drills, bolts, hammers, anchors and more bolts, ropes and anchors…
But now we’re inside, and it’s game canyon time!
The highest waterfall is where it all begins, 120 meters of pure EPICness looking over the Atlantic Ocean, it’s so high you can see the earth’s curvature (sorry flat earthers 😅)
As you can see, the first waterfall is some kind of magical with vistas that are beyond amazing.
And as expected, it’s hammer time! ⛏️
The entire canyon was equipped with only single-point anchors, and at heights like this, that’s definitely dangerous…
So drills out on all the waterfalls to re-equip them. Which many times proved itself to be quite a challenge due to the bad quality and stability of the rock, and several landslide areas were also present.
One of the trickiest waterfalls has to be one of the last ones (the penultimate), not only because of the dangerous rockfall but primarily because of the retrieval of the rope, which can cause some problems and has to be improved with a deviation point or a new belay station.
All the waterfalls are now two-point, but since we took exploration gear to equip it, the secondary point on the anchors is smaller than the ones we’re used to in Madeira for the use of the 10mm ropes that are used in the canyoning scene here.
So, good rope placement and management are advised.
So, good rope placement and management are advised.
Since this text is getting too long, and this won’t be the last post about this canyon, all the technical knowledge will appear here later on. Keep posted.
After the successful canyon descent, we already knew that once we got to the end, the public cable car would be closed since it became inop after a storm. So the hike up the “Vereda da Rocha do Navio” with all the gear on our backs was the only option.
Naaaaaaa, this is EPIC Madeira & Friends, so things wouldn’t be like that!
For us not to take all the weight up the hiking trail, Nuno arranged for the gear to be taken up on the service cable car, one that is specific to taking supplies in and out of “Rocha do Navio”.
As you may know, Madeirian people are pretty welcoming, so when we arrive at the last waterfall, there he is, Nuno’s friend Eduardo, from the cable car.
Had cleaned the bushy and thorny water channel (a traditional Levada) that leads out of the canyoning. AMAZING, and we have to thank him so much for this – Coincidence (or not), Eduardo, a former firefighter, was the one who taught Nuno about rope techniques, what a lesson in history this day turned out to be.
And as if this wasn’t enough (the cable car and the clearing of the path), we were invited in for some beers and cake at another friend’s place, Espirito Santo. And since we missed the first shuttle at 1 pm, we had to wait for the 4 pm one, and as you can imagine, the beers kept flowing. But we won’t get into much detail on this.🤭
It’s now 4 pm time to get going, to thank them for their hospitality, we’ve carried all the supplies and construction material from the cable car and sent our backpacks up.
And it’s the challenge of the day, going up the inclined path under a scorching sun with some beers in. Well, some made it in 25 minutes, and others took an hour but blamed it on the lovely sights that you have on the way up.
The day wasn’t over yet, we still had to get some proper food on us, so off we went to Faial, more specifically, the “Francesinhas“ restaurant, and spent a couple of hours talking about canyoning, beautiful places and life in general.
We would like to send a huge thank you to Nuno, Eduardo and Espirito Santo.🙏🏻
And if we had to describe this day in one word? EPIC!