There is a small village high in the mountains of Madeira, and it’s called Monte. This cute village can be accessed from Funchal by utilizing the cable car system that will shoot you from the center of town right to the top of the mountain – while taking-in awe-inspiring views of course. But, once you’re on top, the question begging to be answered is how one might get back down. Cable car? No. Taxi? No. The best and, truthfully, most fun way to make your way back to town is by taking a sledge car.
The sledge car is a Madeira tradition that has been in existence for many decades and consists of a handmade sitting basket on what look like wooden skis. The basket can hold up to three people and is “driven” or guided by two carreiros (drivers) down the hill. As you sit in the basket, it becomes apparent that you are no longer in control of your life for the next 15 minutes. Two men work in tandem to send your basket careening down the hill on smooth and slippery asphalt.
It sounds dangerous, I know. And, it could be very dangerous if you weren’t in the capable hands of two men who have been doing this for years. But, the experience is thrilling and nothing can compare to the wind in your hair and the views of the island as you fly down its hilly slopes back into the city of Funchal.