Tom Scott visited Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese archipelago Madeira in order to learn more about the famous Monte Toboggans (Carrerios de Monte) and to take a ride in one himself.
In Funchal, here, the capital of Madeira, has the basket carts. They are wooden toboggans on smooth runners that are powered by people in straw hats pushing them. From the start, they used the sledges to bring wood from the mountains to the town by the sea. After that, they were adapted for tourists.
The basket toboggans are made of handworked wicker, with a cushioned sofa inside. Two workers ride on the back in order to help guide the toboggan downhill, in and around traffic. It can go as fast as 30km/hr (18.6 mph) with a good hill.
The Monte Toboggans, in Funchal on the island of Madeira, are wicker sofas: a bit like the gondolas of Venice, only you’re going downhill in regular traffic.
Scott was a bit nervous taking his turn, noting that there was nothing to really hold onto.
There is not much to hold onto here. It’s a 2 kilometer ride. …It’s not a theme park thrill ride but I promise you, when you’re sitting here, with no seatbelt, going 30km/hour going downhill, it definitely feels like a thrill ride.