In the end of September I had a few friends coming to Madeira from Porto. Naturally, I wanted to show them some of the most iconic views on the island, so I took them to places like Ponta de São Lourenço, Vereda do Larano, Pico do Areeiro. It was quite a shock to see all of them (places, not friends) completely burnt by summer sun, yellow and grey where just a few months ago, in early spring, everything was intensely green and flourishing. Later on I even compared my photos from April and late September and the difference in color is unbelievable. There can be no doubt about it – Madeira is far more beautiful in spring.
Having said that, I want to say that October might just be the second best moment to visit the island. Sure, the weather continues great, but apart from that, there is a real treat for fans of active holidays. Nature Festival!
Long story short – during the festival (beginning early October) the government is promoting Madeira’s natural beauty by offering a limited number of free tickets for a variety of activities in the air, in the water and on the land. All you have to do is to sign in and collect the tickets in the main tourism office. After that – just enjoy the ride!
The first moment me and other volunteers found out about the festival, we all rushed to the office and laid our hands on oodles of tickets.
What followed was a week full of adventures and excitement. The first day of the festival I spent riding a mountain bike along Levada da Serra do Faial and all the way to Portela, to be joined by some friends for a free catamaran sunset trip later on in the evening. Then the next day we – easily 8 volunteers – would try ourselves on the kayaks, which was a great deal of fun, too. Third day of the festival brought the most exciting moment of the week, paragliding. We would run off a 400-meters cliff above Madalena do Mar and fly over the banana plantations for what felt like half an hour. Absolute peak of the festival, although followed closely by next day’s adventure, scuba diving. For a finish we had a day with another boat trip and a short experiment with electro bikes. Some of the volunteers chose differently – they had a chance to try canyoning or went for an offload jeep tour.
All of the activities I named above don’t even make the whole list of what was offered during the festival. There’s plenty to choose from, and you could try it all for free, so if you plan to visit Madeira, you may want to search for “Festival da Natureza” – and plan accordingly. See you there!
Maciej Śpiewakowski. Polish volunteer at AAUMa, passionate about journalism, photography, music and travels.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.