There is a special attraction that most visitors to Madeira island are not aware of. Or maybe they find it to scary to do it.
For those who have transportation (car rental) they can drive all the way up to the 'rooftop' of the island, for example the high planes of Paúl da Serra, 1400m above the sea level. From the high locations you will be able to see ... the stars.
The view will not be the same as seen from, for example, Funchal or from the location of your accommodation. The higher grounds of Madeira offers a view of the sky without any disturbance of (artificial lights). There are many open areas with no houses or buildings, located above the clouds, giving you a clear view of the stars, the Milky Way ... the Galaxy.
Last week one night we went by car to Paúl da Serra. Driving (carefully) during the late hours of the evening on darkened roads ... in the mountains full with curves ... with almost no street lights ... is was an exciting experience. Our destination was the high planes where we had clear sky in above us. The night sky was so full of stars that it even gave some vague light so we could distinguish where we were at that moment in the dark. It seemed like if the full moon was present that night and its glow was shining on the Madeira surface ... but in fact there was no moon. Only stars ... millions, billions ... zillions!
It is an experience that will be branded in your memories. I have then realized how small we are in reality. Also how small all our worries in life actually are ... these are microscopic small when you contemplate the black velvet sky with all the stars shimmering above you.
An advice for those who are thinking to drive up these location in Madeira Island at night:
- Be careful when driving on the roads at night. Always anticipate any possible obstacle in front of you.
- Drive slowly and take your time. There are a lot of dangerous curves and you are driving in the mountains (it is a long way down).
- Take warm clothes with you. The temperature can drop considerably the higher you get.
- Check the weather before you go up driving to that area. Avoid going up when there are too much clouds or/and mist on the way to the mountains.
Madeira Island is the ideal destination for enjoying naked-eye astronomy.