Madeira is an island in Portugal that is famous for its Levada walks. Levadas are man-made irrigation channels that were built to carry water from the mountains to the lowlands. Levada walks follow these channels, offering stunning views of the island and the chance to explore the wilderness.
Madeira levada walks along the “Levadas” (open canal system that where developed from the early 16th century, to distribute water from the rainfall heavy and wet regions on the north of the island to the drier sun parched regions of the south). Madeira is very mountainous, and most madeira levadas provide easy and relaxing walks through beautiful countryside filled with laurel forests, and others more challenging walks over peaks and mountains, through tunnels and under waterfalls.
The breathtaking scenery of Madeira walks have become world famous due to the following reasons:
- Most Madeira levada walks are deep in the lush vegetation of Europes oldest and biggest Laurel Forest.
- Madeira Levadas are accessible right throughout the year due to the good temperatures the island experiences because of its geographical position.
- The most dramatic landscapes that are found in Madeira are due to the volcanic origins of the island.
The most popular levada walks
There are hundreds of levada walks in Madeira, ranging from easy to challenging. These trails are suitable for all levels of experience, from beginners to experienced hikers.
Some of the most popular levada walks in Madeira include:
- Levada do Caldeirão Verde: This is one of the most beautiful levada walks in Madeira. The trail follows the channel through a lush forest and ends at a stunning waterfall.
- Levada do Caldeirão Gordo: This is a more challenging levada walk that offers wider views of the island. The trail ends at a beautiful volcanic caldera.
- Levada da Encumeada: This is the longest levada walk in Madeira. The trail offers spectacular views of the island and the chance to see a variety of birds and animals.
Tips for levada walking
One of the first and most crucial decisions when planning a Levada walk is choosing the right trail. Madeira offers a wide variety of levada trails, each with its own unique characteristics. Consider your skill level, the duration you’re comfortable with, and the type of scenery you’d like to explore.
If you’re new to Levada walking or prefer a more leisurely stroll, opt for trails that are well-maintained and have gentle terrain. The Rabaçal to 25 Fontes and Levada do Caldeirão Verde are excellent choices for beginners. These trails showcase the lush greenery and picturesque waterfalls that Madeira is famous for, without requiring advanced hiking skills.
For experienced hikers looking for a challenge, the Levada das Riscas or Levada do Alecrim might be more appealing. These trails often feature narrower paths, steeper sections, and breathtaking vistas. They are perfect for those seeking an adrenaline rush along with their nature exploration.
Here are some tips for levada walking:
- Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with good traction.
- Bring water and snacks.
- Tell someone about your travel plans.
- Do not walk in levadas during rain or storms.
- Be aware of insects and snakes.
As you embark on your Levada walking adventure, remember that you’re entering a pristine natural environment. Treat the surroundings with respect, staying on designated paths and avoiding trampling on fragile plants or disturbing wildlife. Carry out any trash you may have, leaving no trace of your visit.
Follow local guidelines and regulations, especially if you encounter signs indicating restricted areas. Some Levada paths might be temporarily closed for maintenance or safety reasons. Obeying these rules ensures that the trails remain enjoyable for future visitors.
Levada walking not only allows you to connect with nature but also offers opportunities to engage with the local culture. As you explore the trails, you’ll encounter the warm hospitality of the Madeiran people. Don’t hesitate to greet fellow hikers, exchange smiles with locals you may encounter, and immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant atmosphere.
Many Levada walks pass through charming villages where you can take a break and interact with residents. You’ll find that Madeirans are proud of their island and are often willing to share stories about their traditions, history, and the significance of levadas. Show respect and curiosity, and you’ll likely leave with a deeper appreciation for Madeira’s rich culture.
Take it at Your Own Pace
One of the most wonderful aspects of Levada walking is that it can be tailored to your preferences. Take it at your own pace, savoring the beauty around you and enjoying every moment. Don’t rush through the trails; instead, take breaks to rest, appreciate the scenery, and listen to the soothing sounds of nature.
While some may be drawn to complete a trail in record time, remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Feel the tranquility of the forest, enjoy the fresh air, and allow yourself to be fully present in this magical environment. Take in the sights, sounds, and scents of Madeira, and let the experience rejuvenate your spirit.
Our experienced and certified guides will help you safely explore the island’s natural heritage through a series of walks that will have you coming back for more. Madeira Seekers pledges to make your hiking and madeira levada walks a really enjoyable and fantastic experience, at the most affordable price.
Madeira walks are a great way to explore the island and enjoy the wilderness. These trails are suitable for all levels of experience, and offer stunning views. If you are planning a visit to Madeira, be sure to include some levada walks in your itinerary.