PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço
Start: E.R. 109 (Baía d’ Abra)
Finish: E.R. 109 (Baía d’ Abra)
Time: 2h 30m Distance: 4 Km (+ 4 Km return)
The trail follows S. Lourenço Point, the eastern-most peninsula of Madeira island, so named after the caravel sailed by João Gonçalves de Zarco, being one of the three discoverers of Madeira island, who upon approaching this piece of land shouted to his ship “São Lourenço, that’s enough!”.
This peninsula is volcanic in origin, and is mainly composed of basalt, although there are also some limestone sediment formations. At the end of the Point there are two islets: the Cevada, Metade or Desembarcadouros Islet, and the S. Lourenço Point, Farol or For a Islet. The stone partition marks where the Regional government’s land begins, and is part of the Madeira Natural Park. The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve and the Desembarcadouro Islet is a total natural reserve. All the land and sea at the North coast, up to a depth of 50m, is part of the European network of important community sites - Natura 2000.
The semi-arid climate and its exposure to North winds have sculpted the low vegetation and also explain the lack of trees, which distinguishes this area from the rest of the Island and is a veritable natural heritage. Here you can see the Island’s basal plate at its best and several rare and endemic plants. Of the 138 species of plant identified on the peninsula, 31 are endemic (exclusive) to Madeira island. In terms of fauna there is one of the largest colonies of seagull (Larus cachinnans atlantis) in the region, which nest on the Desembarcadouro islet.
Along the route you can often see several bird species such as the Berthelot’s Pipit (Anthus bertheloti madeirensis), the Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis parva), the Common Canary (Serinus canaria canaria), and the Kestrel (Falco tinunculus). Protected marine birds also nest here such as Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro), Bulwer’s Petrel, (Bulweria bulwerii), and the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). The Madeiran lizard (Lacerta dugesii), which is the island’s only reptile, is very common here. Another interesting aspect of this area is the high number of endemic land molluscs (24), commonly known as snails. In the sea, you may be lucky enough to spot the world’s rarest seal, known in Madeira as a Sea-wolf (Monachus monachus). At the end of the trail, you can dive in the Sardinha port, named after the old owners. The Sardinha house is the base for a group of Rangers who work for the Madeira natural park, and monitor the area. On the horizon to the South you can see Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and to the North the Porto Santo Islands.
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