Raposeira de São João is situated in the quiet West of Madeira, in the sunny coucil of Calheta. It is a good base for all kinds of activities that can make your stay in Madeira so attractive. It’s quiet, but not remote; hidden but still easy to find. All the images on this page were made in the council of Calheta, of which Fajã da Ovelha is a part.
Where the more easterly villages of the Council of Calheta and the lower area’s are gradually becoming more urban, Fajã da Ovelha, the village our house belongs to, is designated as a rural area, where building is very restricted. Especially valleys like ours, officially called ‘area rural’, have a ban on new construction work. Only existing – often abandoned- houses can be renovated.
parque natural da Madeira
Also, the limit of the ‘Parque Natural da Madeira’, Madeira’s Natural Park, lies at the bottom of our valley, about 150 meters from our house. This guarantees a free view of the wooded valley and the Atlantic Ocean. The large image at the top of this page will give you an impression, however, the reality is even more stunning. West Madeira at is very best! In the small streams, that abound in the area, wild watercress grows, proof of the excellent quality of the surface waters. The beard mosses that grow in many trees are an indication of the complete absence of air pollution in Madeira.
The house is situated in a hamlet that has the beautiful name of ‘Soalheira de Baixo’ meaning ‘lower sunny place’ and it lies in an area of spectacular beauty, with deep rugged gorges, cut by brooks and small rivers, lined with tiny farming fields that have been glued against the steep slopes. The area breathes peace and quiet and radiates the pure natural and wild beauty of quiet west Madeira. The stunning vistas from the house and grounds reflect all that beauty!
the surrounding villages
The surrounding villages and hamlets have a lot of natural beauty to offer, too. Ponta do Pargo, Paúl do Mar and Jardim do Mar are within easy reach. They all have their own caracter and their own vistas. Make a walk to the viewpoint of Garganta Funda and see how breathtakingly beautiful the steep coast is. The vertical high waterfall of Garganta Funda is beautiful beyond words.
not to miss: sundowners in Paúl do Mar
Paúl do Mar is the perfect spot for sundowners. Even in iffy weather often a good spot, as the high rockwall that has Paúl’s back blocks the sometimes fresh northerlies. The sunsets are often spectacular. We have made it a tradition to take a picture of all our B&B guests against the setting sun. All these pictures are published on our own ‘Wall of Fame‘.
On the east side of Paúl do Mar, a tunnel leads to Jardim do Mar, which means ‘Garden of the Sea. A small village, car-free and with a maze of tiny alleys. More than worth a visite.
We have prepared a folder full of tips and possibilities. It is waiting for you in the house. There is also a guide with Levada walks for you to consult. For lovers of culture, the website of Madeira Cultura is certainly of interest. This website gives an overview of all kinds of expositions, concerts, shows, musea and folkloric festivals in the Island. You won’t have enough time to do everything you’d like to do.
circular walk from the house
The main road from the old days, when there was no motorized traffic, that you can pick up from the main road that links the church of Fajã da Ovelha with the express road, forms, togehter with te Levada Nova, a stunning circular walk that can be easily done in 3 to 3.5 hours. It gives a good impression of Laurissilva, one of the last surviving primeval forests on European territory. But also, you get a nice impression of the small scale agriculture and the way people live in the quiet west of Madeira. Soon, we will publish a route description in this website.
There are plenty of small restaurants if you wish to eat out. If you avoid the large tourist traps you will find that eating out is inexpensive in Madeira. We always prefer small family-run places. Do watch out for places that do have large menus outside that do not mention prices. They are applying a dual price list. One for Madeirans and one for tourists. It’s illegal but they do it anyway, as it’s difficult to prove. So look for a menu with prices and you’ll be fine.
And over the varied and often overwhelming landscapes of peaceful western Madeira, there are the ever-changing skies, cloudless of with wild clouds, that will take your breath away. We have gathered some of them in a photo gallery.
Want to know more about the island?
Would you like to see more of the island? There is a website that tells you all about Madeira and Porto Santo. For more images you can go to ww.visitmadeira.pt (language selector top-right) or have a look at the webcams that are spread over the island. These can also come in handy on those days with iffy weather. Just look at the cams and see where the sun is out! The many micro-climates make it unlikely to not find the sun somewhere in the island. It is usually not a good idea to stay at home because of the weather, unless, of course, there is a weather warning wh9ich you can check in the website of the Portuguese meteoroligical Institute. Though West Madeira is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, the North coast is perhaps even wilder though it may have a little more rain. Also, do not forget to drive into the mountains, to maybe drive to the second highest peak Pico Arieiro or go have a home made Ginjinha (cherry liqueur) in a forgotten local bar somewhere in the hidden valley of Curral das Freiras.
If you want to enjoy Madeira to the fullest, you need a car. We have done our homework and did some research for you. Read all about the tips and tricks for car rental here. Read it well before you rent a car.
The extraordinary flower in the background of this page is the Protea, which originates in South Africa. There are countless varieties, many of which can be found in Madeira. We have this one in our garden. It flowers in early summer.
this page was updated on March 2, 2022