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Walking on Madeira

Madeira takes the entire concept of walking and hiking to a whole new level. Yes, setting foot on the island will automatically open up wondrous sights. Every angle is picturesque. There is no reason to doubt why thousands of tourists rush to this place almost all year round.  

What is so special with the walk in Madeira? The interesting geography of this archipelago plus the rich natural beauty that it possesses makes it the perfect spot to experience walking amidst immeasurable beauty.

levada wandelen

Levadas - Levada Walks

For people who would like to explore Madeira by foot, they would need to rely a lot on the levadas. What exactly are these? This terminology is derived from the Portuguese word, levar. It means ‘to carry’ or could also imply ‘carriageway’. Today, levada specifically refers to the mini-canals which were created to distribute rainfall towards the areas which are usually dry.

The so-called levada walks in Madeira means going along these constructed canals. Usually, the sides of these waterways are concrete and kept clean. Hence, tourists can walk on these cemented paths and use the canal as their path guide. Since the levadas are designed to deliver water to the agricultural lands, the surrounding areas are also covered with lush greens and impressive natural beauty. Since locals also rely on tourism as their source of income, visitors can have a guide during their levada walk to ensure that they are taking the right route.

The paths along the levadas are beautiful and challenging trails. The levadas have a total length of approximately 930 miles! Note that some of the levada trails go along deep canyons or tunnels. Make sure your wear at least good hiking shoes and a cell phone and possibly a torch. Please also check the local news and leave a message if you go for a walk alone!

levada madeira
  levada madeira

Walking Opportunities

Among the routes which are perfect for beginners are the Rabacal and Nuns’ Valley. The entire tour can take about 3 to 4 hours so tour companies offer only half day services for these spots. For more experienced hikers, they could try out the paths in Ponta de Sao Lourenco or Ribeiro Frio. These paths are a bit more rugged and there are also steep slopes. Following the levada would take tourists to several caves. The path also passes by thick forest.

There are plenty of other Madeira routes which tourists can choose from. The Lakes can take about 4 hours of walking and there are numerous rock pools to pass by. The Qeimadas is a popular option too despite the fact that it takes about 4 to 5 hours to finish it because it is within the Laurisilva Forest and it is one of the most scenic routes. The Kings Levada is also spectacular as the walk starts with the clear view of Sao Jorge and Santana farmlands then moves on to lush forest areas.

Walking around Porto Santo does not end with the stroll by the beach. There are walking routes which one could take like the Pico do Castelo which would require minimal hiking skills. Opting for Pico de Ana Ferreira is interesting too because at the end of it, tourists will witness the beauty of volcanic structures. Other routes in Porto Santo are Pico do Facho, Pico Branco to Terra Cha.

Trail Walking

For people who would like to venture into mountain walks or trekking, it has to be noted that the various paths require different level of difficulty too. Before going on a hiking or trekking adventure, it is best to discuss the specifics with the tour guide first.

Here are some of the popular routes for tourists who would like to walk around Madeira and enjoy the amazing sights:

  • Rabacal and the 25 mountains—This is the most popular among tourists because it only involves moderate level of difficulty. The entire walk usually takes about 4 hours but in such a short time, tourists would be able to pass by 3 levadas, several waterfalls, lakes and caves.
  • Ribeiro Frio—The entire route is about 11 km. long and could take 4 hours. This is the perfect pick for people who want to witness the abundant flora and fauna that is unique in Madeira. It is a path that crosses the Laurisilva Forest. Tourists would be wrapped by the majestic beauty of this forest for hours.
  • Ponta de Sao Lourenco—For those who are ready to go for a trekking adventure that is a bit more difficult, this is a great choice. It only covers 10 kilometers but since the path is a bit more rugged, it could be more tiring than the others. However, the effort is absolutely worth it because the view is jaw-dropping. The horizon allows trekkers to witness the magnificence of the Ilhas Desertas and the Porto Santo Islands. The elevation of the path is just enough to have an unobstructed view of the breath-taking sights that surround the place.
  • Nuns Valley—For some leisurely walking which would soothe the mind without tiring the body, this path would be fitting. It is only 7 km. and could be finished within 2 to 3 hours. Beyond the charming flowers, enchanting dense forest and admirable ravines, this path was actually the same route which allowed the nuns to escape the pirates almost 400 years ago.      

You can also stroll along the coast or in the many parks and forests. There are excellent walking guides and maps of Madeira available and there are walks varying in length and difficulty. There are also several agencies that organize walking tours in Madeira.

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