The Monte Sledges on the archipelago of Madeira are traditionally made of wicker and whilst gravity provides the momentum they are assisted and controlled during their descent by two sledge drivers called “Carreiros”.

Originally used by the people living in the village of Monte as a means of quick transportation into the capital Funchal, the Monte Sledges first appeared in 1850 and are still used to this day attracting thousands of tourists every year.

The Sledge drivers dress in their traditional clothing that consists of white cotton clothes and a hat made of straw. They also use rubber soled boots so that they are able stop the sledge when necessary as it glides down the hill. The wooden runners on the sledges frequently smell of burning caused by the friction of sliding down the tarmac covered roads as they speed towards the bottom of the hill.



A “Carreiro” sits in the shade on wicker toboggans


A “Carreiro” enjoys a beer in a local bar during a break


“Carreiros” enjoy a beer in a local bar between runs down the hill


A “Carreiro” stands in a doorway in the village of Monte


“Carreiros”prepare their toboggans at the top of the hill in Monte


The toboggan drivers, known as “Carreiros” walk to work in the village of Monte


A Monte toboggan slides down the hill towards the capital Funchal controlled by the “Carreiros”



Published by ian forsyth photography

Press and Documentary photographer covering the North of England. Stringer & contributor for Getty Images News. Prints are available to buy on my website.

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