PR 5 Funduras Footpath
Distance: 8,7 km
This trail begins at the Portela viewpoint, from where we have a magnificent view over both the Porto da Cruz and Faial parishes which is dominated by the rocky outcrop of Penha d’Águia. The hike begins along the forest road of the Funduras mountain range, and only later does it enter the Laurissilva forest via a footpath.. Further along the trail crosses “Casa das Funduras” a building which houses forestry activities. At this point you can opt to continue your walk to the Larano viewpoint from whence you will be able to gaze upon a scenic view of the bay of the town of Machico. This area is included in the European network of protected areas – Natura 2000. The trail ends at the hamlet of Maroços, crossing traditional terraced fields that are so typical of the Madeiran agricultural landscape.
Madeira’s native forest – the Laurisilva forest is mainly found on the northern side of the island. It is adapted to conditions above 85% humidity and is distributed between altitudes of 400 and 1300 metres above sea level. Of the main trees comprising this, there are 4 from the Lauraceae family: the bay (Laurus azorica), the Til tree (Ocotea foetens), Indian bay (Persea indica), and less frequently, the Barbusano (Apollonias barbujana). Other trees also found amongst them, are particularly the Lily of the Valley Tree (Clethra arborea), the Holly (Ilex perado ssp perado), the Laurel (Picconia excelsa), Mocanos (Pittosporum coriaceum and Visnea mocanera), e o Sanguinho (Rhamnus glandulosa).
This natural forest is very important for the ecological balance of the island as it is the main source of endemic flora and fauna. At the moment it covers an area of over 15,000 hectares. It is internationally known as the best-conserved forest Laurissilva of its kind and was designated a natural heritage site by UNESCO in December 1999.
It is on this mountain range that the best Laurisilva forest area on the South side of the island can be found, which is included in the European Natura 2000 network. This unique forest is very important as a “water producer” because of its capacity to retain water from mists (hidden precipitation). This phenomenon is very obvious in this area, as sudden variances in weather occur frequently throughout the day. Air arrives from the North laden with water and after being forced to climb the north-face of the mountain range it is then coerced into relinquishing this water by having to then revert into a state of fog as it falls down the south-face. The forest is essential in maintaining the springs in the Machico municipal area.
On the other side of the valley you can see the Santo da Serra golf course. On the horizon, you can see ilhas Selvagens (Wild Islands), and land wise the outline of the highest peaks of the island (Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro). At Portela viewpoint there is a connection to PR10- Levada do Ribeiro Frio.Portela - Machico