At the bottom of Santana’s oceanside cliffs, you’ll find this unique and serene peace of land: Fajã da Rocha do Navio. This place is a nature reserve comprised of a small island, the ocean around it and a narrow strip of agricultural plots (the fajãs). Fajã da Rocha do Navio is the perfect place to spend a couple of peaceful hours, relaxing and exploring the area, enjoying nature and tranquility. You’ll reach the area by foot, descending the steps in the 330m high cliff, or, by cable car!


We are staying in Santana for a couple of days, because of the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, so we decide to visit Fajã da Rocha do Navio the day before race day. It’s late afternoon and we’re the only ones at the cable car. We are here with a group of friends, so we’ll have to divide over two cable car cabins. No problem for those of us who are waiting for the second car to bring them down, because the cable car station offers some splendid panoramas on Fajã da Rocha do Navio, the typical Madeiran agricultural terraces and the ocean. 
The cable car ride takes around five minutes and offers equally stunning views on our surroundings. The ride is perfect for spotting the waterfalls coming down the cliffs. I count three on our way down. O Madeira, how beautiful you are! 
We stroll around the nature reserve for a few hours, exploring the small paths meandering through the agricultural plots. We take our time, listening to the murmur of the ocean as we go. Apart from some locals taking care of their crops and several cats hunting the local lizard population, we are the only ones here. We see lots of banana trees and grapevines. On the plots are small sheds, and the fields are shielded from the salty ocean by sugarcane fences, dry and bleached by the hot Madeira sun. 


We discover what can hardly be described as a path to one of the big waterfalls we saw during our cable car ride down here. The ‘path’ winds between overgrown plots and forgotten sheds to the cliff. We stoop low to pass the grapevines hanging over the path and cross a small water stream to reach the cliff and steep steps in its’ rock. Since we are absolutely crazy about waterfalls, no doubt we will have to go up there to see. We’re all wearing flip flops and sandals, so we cautiously resume our way, up the steep and slippery steps. After some five minutes of climbing up the cliff, we end up at the foot of a high and beautiful waterfall. 
After soaking up the sun on the beach, it’s time to return to the cable car station to catch the last ride up. We would have loved to stay a little longer, but if we miss the last cable car we will have to take the steep steps up. Since some of our group are in for a 56km USM run tomorrow morning at the break of dawn, we better skip the steps. Besides, the cable car ride is stunning, no problems at all with riding the cable car again. 


Madeira has several similar areas to explore. Fajã dos Padres, Fajã da Achadas da Cruz and Fajã do Rancho: all unique parts of Madeira definitely worth a visit. If not for the beauty of the landscape, then surely the cable car ride makes it worth to go to at least one of these fajãs!
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