Levada Walks Madeira and Porto Santo
What better way can there be to see Madeira and experience its nature than by foot?
With dramatic and challenging routes over wild forestry mountains, through tunnels and under waterfalls and with breathtaking natural beauty all around, Levada Walking the island a never-ending pleasure.
Madeira is a volcanic Island and considered to be one of the best in the world when it comes to walking, trekking or hiking. With a breathtaking natural beauty, Madeira offers a variety of walking paths around the Island, all abundant with picturesque landscapes of steep green valleys.
Madeira Levada Walks are the most well known. Levadas are man-made water channels designed to carry water from excess rainfall in the interior to the agricultural fields that extend all around the island. They are public property, along which anyone may enjoy a walk. The building of these remarkable channels started in the 15th century; suspended by ropes men hammered and tunneled many miles through solid rock many slaves and convicts died in their construction.
The first channels were built from wooden planks, then as water demand grew these channels were extended and better techniques were applied and built in solid masonry. They are managed by a Levadeiro; a person in charge of maintaining the levadas and who distributes the water to each landowner. The most recent Levadas to be built were Levada do Norte and the Levada dos Tornos completed in 1970, an important project commissioned by the Portuguese government being mainly to provide hydroelectric power. Levada walking has become popular since the 1980s. All offer amazing scenery and whilst some are easy to walk there are more challenging routes built along Madeira’s high cliffs that cut through the Laurisilva Forest.
This pre-historic woodland has the greatest natural value and biological diversity with a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. Worldwide the Madeira ancient Laurisilva forest is regarded as the largest of its kind and was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
It’s recommended that prospective walkers study the routes before exploring Madeira as there are a few challenging locations and tunnels not recommended for adventurers who are prone to vertigo or without proper equipment. Many guided walking tours are available all the year round, fully equipped and first aid trained, highly recommended for the inexperienced.
For your convenience and safety, the Madeira Walking Festival was created to suit all tastes and abilities. This is an annual event organised by the Madeira Tourism Board and directed by Terry Marsh, an award-winning travel writer and photographer.
There are paths scattered all around the Islands, here are a few of the most popular:
Rabaçal / Risco/ Lagoa do vento/25 fontes
Queimadas/Caldeirão Verde/Caldeirão do Inferno
Ribeiro Frio/Lamaceiros/Portela Ribeiro Frio/Faja da Nogueira/Balcoes/cruzinhas Ribeira da Janela/Lamaceiros Porto Moniz Folhadal/Encumeada/Feiteiras/Sao Vicente
Cabo Girão – Quinta Grande
Snow Route/Poco da Neve/Levada do Barreiro
Pico do Arieiro/Pico Ruivo/Achada do Teixeira
Serra De Agua/ Curral Das Freiras
Caniçal Ponta de São Lourenço/Baía D’Abra/casa do Sardinha
Levada dos Piornais
Monte to Camacha
Porto Santo Walking
Porto Santo/North East peaks/Pico do Castelo/Pico do Facho
Fonte da Areia to Zimbralinho