Ilhas Desertas

Madeira is an archipelago, indeed.
In all the previous posts, I referred to Madeira as an island, and actually the largest one has the same name.
But in some photos one can see other three islands nearby in the ocean, called Ilhas Desertas, or just las Desertas. Here from Ponta São Lourenço:

Las Desertas are a full nature reserve, for the protection of the now tiny colony of mediterranean seals. Nobody can fish in the vicinity of the island, and only three ships are allowed to land regularly with the tourist at the bigger island, called Deserta Grande, where the only archipelago’s inhabitants live (few park guards, with a turnover of two weeks, when the weather allows the navigation).
For the rest, the three islands have been always entirely uninhabited, because there’s no fresh water.
The two other islands are called Ilhéu Chão (the flat one, smaller), and the other Bugio, where the seals live.

Sailing to the Deserta Grande takes three to four hours, during which one can do birdwatching (also some uncommon species), whale- and dolphin watching or turtle watching, and actually we saw everything but the big whales (but we found a not so good weather, too windy for whalewatching).
The trip is very interesting itself, and we chose a small tourist operator (Ventura do Mar) that has always a marine biologist on board, so we spent most of the time on the ship discussing about biology and other pleasant subjects (included restaurants in Madeira and attractions in Lisbon).

Near the island we had our lunch on the boat, discovering to be surrounded by fishes, who eat everything one throw them… including the chicken bones.
Once landed, but also during the trip, the vulcanic rocks are spectacular, with twisted shapes and martian colours.


We were allowed only to visit the area around the warden’s house (the only building on the islands), and the guide pointed us the track to the top of the island (it takes almost two hours only to climb to the top).

Almost all the photos of the islands in the gallery below are taken in the retour trip, when the weather was sunny.
The gallery starts with some lanscapes of Funchal and the cliff east of the city.