Our final levada hike! In the northern part of Madeira there is more rain, but we were lucky with the weather again. Not with the levada, though, because a boulder had fallen onto the ledge and we couldn’t pass. It took us a bit to find a way around. In the end, it was more than worth it. Watch the video for the amazing views!
We had planned to hike along an old trading route, the Caminho Real, but unfortunately there were roadworks with heavy machinery happening there and the road was closed. But nowadays it’s easy to find another hike on the many hiking apps, so we soon set out for a 9 km circular walk near Encumeada.
This walk started along another levada, and this time we would have to face the tunnels as well. The tunnels are passable, but you need a torch and some surefootedness! We were rewarded with some stunning waterfalls, so it was well worth it.
As we turned our backs to the levada and headed down into the valley, we found out what happens to the water in those waterfalls: it becomes a wild stream. We managed to cross one, but eventually we came to a river that was impassable. At this point we were about 7 km into our hike, and we saw no other option than to turn back.
The clouds are never far away in the Madeira highlands, so as we climbed back up, it started getting misty. In the video you see the same waterfall as in the pictures, but now it looked very different! We fortunately made it back in time to our car. Lesson learned: do not try to cross rivers in the rainy season!
From the sunny seaside of Camara de Lobos we traveled up into the misty Madeira mountains to the forest of Fanal. I think Fanal was my favorite place on Madeira. Even though the clouds had cleared, the ancient laurel forest had a beautiful mysterious atmosphere. It is one of the few places on Madeira in which the volcanic nature of the island is clearly visible in the jutting rocks and even a crater lake.
We had planned to view the Cascata dos Angos, a waterfall on the south coast of Madeira that splashes right onto the road. However, in winter heavy rainfall makes the waterfall sometimes too big to safely pass through it by car, and also there is a risk of rockfalls. So the road was unfortunately closed. But the cliffs and fishermen were good alternatives to find!
From the misty highlands we descended into a valley with levadas on several different levels. The famous 25 Fontes waterfall was an absolute highlight, but hiking along the levadas was beautiful too. And strenuous with over 500 meters of descending and then climbing back up!
The higher parts of Madeira island are often shrouded in mist. I love seeing the clouds rolling towards me, and seeing the sun shine when I look in the other direction. Watch the video if you want to know what I mean!
Many hikes on Madeira are out-and-back style: you follow a levada till you are fed up with it and then you trace your steps back. Following the Levada da Ribeira da Janela, we came to a lush forest of indigenous trees and plants, with water dripping through ferns into the levada. The views into the valley were stunning!
In the western part of Madeira, near Ponta do Pargo, we hiked to our first levada, the Levada Nova. It runs here through a eucalyptus forest, which is not part of the indigenous flora of Madeira and is, to be honest, a bit dull. But the coastal views were lovely!
At the beginning of the new year I love to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poem, written in December 1944 when he was in prison.