Madeira open-air botanical garden – a true paradise for nature lovers.
A “levada” is a canal, which takes the water down from the rainy mountains to the dry lowlands where it is used for irrigation. Canals that last for hundreds of kilometers built centuries ago and still well maintained. The first “levadas” date back to the 15th century and the whole “levada”- network is around 2150 km long. The paths along the “levadas” take you through unspoilt nature, scenic landscapes, gorges, luxuriant banana groves, vineyards, pitch-dark tunnels and ancient pine forests.
♦ Machico Was the first point of landing in Madeira for the discoverers - It has a fascinating landscape, with its high mountains and deep valleys covered by exotic vegetation and colourful flowers;
♦ Madeira Natural Park - It is in the exuberance of the landscape that if finds one of the greater tourist attractive of Madeira Island;
♦ Levada de Serra - One of the most fascinating features of Madeira is the vast network of open-air water canals that cover the island bringing water from the mountains to the plantations below.
Day 1. Funchal Airport - Machico
Arrival at Funchal Airport. Transfer to Machico Madeira’s second largest town is situated in a green valley between the slopes of Ribeira do Machico. Accommodation at a hotel.
Day 2. Machico - Ribeiro de Machico
An easy walking tour north from Machico up to Pico de Facho with a “vigia” – a viewpoint from the 17-th century. Spectacular view over Machico and all the way to Ponta de Sao Lourenco in the east. From there we walk along by the side of Levada do Canical – a relatively new irrigation channel – from its point of emergence from a 750m long tunnel all the way to its source near Ribeira de Machico. Transfer back to Machico. Overnight in a hotel.
Walking: 12 km, 4 hrs; uphill/downhill: 400 m/50 m
Day 3. Ponta de Sao Lourenco - Santo da Serra
Short transfer to the start of the walk. Today's walk is along the coast of the Eastern point of the island, where you will enter a partial nature reserve. This is one of the oldest parts of the island, and you can see how millions of years of erosion have flattened the landscape, and how the North Easterly trade winds have created much steeper cliffs. Some of the flora in this region is endemic not just to Madeira but to this small Eastern point of the island. When you reach the bay of “Baía de Ábra” you can see 4 floating fish farms where Sea Bream is cultivated for the local market. When you reach the nature warden's house, you can choose to walk up to a conical hill with a beautiful view, or to go down to a small pier where you can enjoy a swim in the clear water. A walk back to the start point will show you the route from a completely different point of view. Transfer to Santo da Serra for overnight.
Walking: 7 km, 3,5 hrs; uphill/downhill: 200 m/200 m
Update 2019: Please note that the walk on day 3 – Monte / Camacha is still not in good conditions, therefore, we will continue as an alternative walk Ponta de São Lourenço
Day 4. Camacha - Santo da Serra
Transfer from Santo da Serra to Camacha where you walk along by the green side of Levada de Serra at an altitude of about 800 m. Beautiful view over the long and very narrow Ponta de Sao Lourenco peninsula – Madeira’s most eastern point, expects you there. The walk ends in the village of Santo da Serra where you stay overnight in hotel. Before dinner you can make a short stroll in the local botanical garden.
Walking: 14 km, 5 hrs; uphill/downhill: 100 m/150 m
Day 5. Santo da Serra - Santana
Walk Santo da Serra to Ribeiro Frio. Today you follow the Levada do Furado up into the wild forested hills ofthe Madeira Natural Park, with magnificent views at a number of points, but not a walk for severe sufferers ofvertigo. There are many places where the levada path is narrow with big drops to one side, these are howevermostly thick with trees and bushes helping to reduce the feeling of exposure. At Ribeiro Frio (Cold Stream,850m above the sea) you are met and transferred to Santana, a village set on a plateaux 400m/1300 feet abovethe north coast. (Transfer included in tour price). Overnight Santana. The pick up at Ribeiro Frio will be between 16.00 and 16.30. Note that today you do need to carry an adequate lunch and some spare food.
Walking: 6 hrs; uphill: 200 m
Day 6. Achada do Teixeira - Encumeada
Drive to Achada near the famous Homem em Pe rock. From there it’s about an hour easy climb to Madeira’s highest peak - Pico Ruivo (1862 m). You descend to Encumeada along a high ridge with breath-taking views on both sides. This is a strenuous walk, only for experienced hikers as it ends with numerous steep steps, which can be very hard on the knees. Overnight in hotel in Encumeada.
Walking: 14 km, 6 hrs; uphill/downhill: 300 m/800 m
Day 7. Encumeada - Corticeiras - Funchal
A scenic walk across the lush green valley of Ribeira do Poco, sprinkled with the traditional thatched cowsheds, and up to the viewpoint of Fenda do Ferreiro. An old track – part of the ancient main road running north-south across the heart of the island, known as the Mountain Garden. From Corticeiras there is a regular bus service to Funchal, where your luggage will be waiting for you. Overnight in Funchal.
Walking: 16km, 6 hrs; uphill/downhill: 250 m/500 m
Day 8. Departure
Transfer to the airport (approx. 30 min) and departure or extra days in Funchal
Practical information: It is a good idea to take a daypack, lunchpack, hat, sun glasses and sunscreen lotion. Light hiking shoes with good sole for wet/slippery parts along the road (sometimes it is very humid above 500m a.s.l. and the rocky “levada” banks may be slippery, which can cause danger in the steep parts of the gorges).