One of the many attractions of Madeira and Porto Santo Islands are the beautiful “Levadas” and Walks. For a long time, levadas have been considered one of the world’s great walking pleasures. It is also a great choice for those who enjoy outdoor activities.
Levadas are irrigation systems, developed in the 16th century by Portuguese settlers, to distribute water from the northern regions to the southern regions. The first settlers on Madeira Island began cultivating the lower slopes in the southern part of the island, cutting out terraces (“poios”). Nowadays, Madeira Island has more than 200 levadas and paths. The most important ones are “Levada do Caldeirão Verde”, “Ribeiro Frio – Portela, “Risco Rabaçal – 25 Fontes”, “Pico do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo – Achada do Teixeira”, “Cabo Girão – Boa Morte” and “Balcões”. These levadas provide walkers with beautiful views over the rural villages, always surrounded by tropical flowers and endemic species.
Walkers can have a direct contact with the Laurel Forest, and also observe its endemic species. Within the confines of the Laurel Forest, also known as Laurissilva Forest, you can find species of trees and bushes, namely the Canary Laurel, the Madeira mahogany, the mocan, the Canary Island juniter, the Madeira blueberry, the broom heath and the shrub trefoil. You can also observe endemic birds in the Laurel Forest. These are the Zino’s Petrel (Pterodrama Madeira), the Madeira long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz) and the Firecrest (Regulus madeirensis).
Before you set out, you have to bear in mind that walks have different grading, that means that the terrain on the routes varies widely. Also bear in mind the island’s climate, that is, go prepared for sun, wind or rain. If it is your first time walking on Madeira, it is advisable to start with a shorter, easier route. Do take safety precautions.
- Never go on a «Levada» walk without a qualified mountain guide;
- Get detailed information about the walking route you wish to make;
- Ensure that you know exactly how long the walk lasts and that you will complete it before nightfall;
- Tell your hotel or someone you trust which walking route you will be taking and give them your expected time of arrival;
- Do not change your walking route without prior notice;
- Take some food and water, as well as a pullover and a lightweight waterproof;
- Take a torch and extra batteries;
- Take a mobile phone and make sure it is fully charged;
- Should come up against unexpected difficulties (stones, strong wind, heavy rain, etc.) go back to your starting point and do not take any unnecessary risks;
Useful phone numbers:
- Rescue Services: 291 700 112
- Emergency Number: 112