If you like walking and want to see some spectacular views and nature at its very best, Madeira’s levada walks are for you. These small canals were built in the 16th century to bring down rainwater from the peaks to the parched areas of the island, assisting farmers cultivating land on small strips on the sides of steep hills. The little paths alongside them mean walking in the hills is relatively easy.
The scenery is spectacular with fabulous waterfalls and quite magnificent vegetation growing alongside the canals and pathways. Although it is possible to make your own way along the levadas, I would always recommend going with a guide. We went with Emanuel from Walking with Emanuel in parties of six to eight people. The walks are graded easy to hard and some are in the high peaks, although these they are weather dependent. On both occasions that we booked the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo walk it was too misty and foggy to be safe, so we were given a substitute walk instead. Summer may be the best time for that one. That said, all of the walks have plenty to offer and my favourite was Rabacal 25 springs – the highlight is the view where 25 springs merge into a large waterfall.
A walk lasting about four hours with return pick up from your hotel will cost in the region of 25 euros. You will need to have walking boots and a waterproof jacket. A guide will help you navigate the sometimes narrow paths and point out key points including the plants which grow to spectacular proportions in the clean pollution free atmosphere.
Our guide took some cheese with him and showed us how to hand feed the birds which was a nice experience. At the end of the walk we piled into the van, weary but elated and were driven back to our hotel in time for a relaxing bath and a pre-dinner drinks.
Tip: Some tourist places seemingly offering cheap rates for walks and jeep safaris are really timeshare agents for hotels and will try to sign you up for a 90-minute talk before you qualify for the cheaper price.
We went with Walking with Emanuel HERE
This post is not sponsored, I paid for all excursions.