Madeira Levada walks are one of Madeira’s strong points. When you travel to Madeira, you should take the time to discover the Levadas. On Madeira, levada walks gain popularity year over year. That is, if you are not afraid of heights and in good condition.
Madeira Levada Walks
Levadas were constructed between the 16th century and the 1940’s. With a rather dry climate and terrain in the Southeast area of the Island, a system of canals was constructed in the volcanic mountain that is Madeira. Next to each of the irrigation canals a small path was created. That path serves for canal maintenance and to access the hatches. The flow of the canal can be controlled by opening and closing hatches. These maintenance paths are used today to hike the beautiful island of Madeira. The paths are small, but never too steep. They follow the flow of the water. You can encounter goats and other stock on these paths.
Over the past years, I walked several of these levadas. The Levada 25 Fontes is one of the easiest accessible. Some others are pretty dangerous. We walked alongside vertical cliffs that went 100 meter (300 ft) down, and some that brought us from the top of a mountain to the valleys.
Madeira Levada Walks are fun. Howver, keep these precautions in mind:
- Stay on the paths, as the cliffs can be extremely dangerous – every year people die falling off them.
- You’re in nature, so respect for plants and animals is key. And please: take all you brought here, back with you.
- It’s recommended not to do these hikes by yourself. Always let someone know where you’re going to.
- Do take some extra food and (definitely) water with you!
- Watch the weather: not all paths are accessible or safe in heavy wind or rain.
(This article is based on a post that appeared first on this blog in Dutch in 2007.)