In contrast to the nearby Canary Islands, Madeira is very green and little of the island’s volcanic heritage is visible. When you hear a little more about the special features of Madeira, the “levadas” quickly come into conversation. These are cute little canals that cover the island and carry water from the mountains over the residents’ cultivated terraces. This is not only useful, but also looks very pretty. Paths also lead along the canals, which are now one of the island’s biggest tourist magnets thanks to the hikes they offer. The network of levada paths is around 2000 kilometers long.
You simply can’t have been to Madeira without taking one of these wonderful hikes along one of these levadas. There are numerous routes to choose from, with more and less demands. I found a very simple levada myself in Funchal and followed it with Leon.
We decide on a route in the center of the island. The weather is spontaneously good and we rent a car. We take a break at the mountain station Boca do Encumeada. There’s already a lot going on up here. A few routes start here too through the mountains along some levadas.
While Sara Leon is breastfeeding, I drink a bica in a café. A fat, wild-looking man approaches me and asks me what country I’m from, as I don’t seem to have an accent in my English. We start talking. He and his girlfriend are from Prague and now live in London. You live in a large converted sprinter and are now visiting the island of Madeira. We get along very well straight away, we talk about traveling in the van, the island and crazy Corona rules. I have to say goodbye but I’m sure I’ll meet them both again in my life.
We reach the hiking car park near the entrance. And it’s full. Really full. Just as illegally as a large number of other cars, we park ourselves on the side of the road and hope for the best.
Fortunately, the amount of people has spread widely across the country and its levadas. Most hikers seem to have chosen the route to the 7 waterfalls, which also starts here, but our path is relatively clear.
The start of the route first leads past a few cows (the only ones we see on the island) and then leads into a low thicket of bushes. We constantly follow the canal. Since it is still winter, the bushes are still bare and seem to be reaching for us in the bright sunshine.
The fauna is strikingly special. Even if it doesn’t look like we’re in the Amazon rainforest, you immediately notice that the flora around you is different. Apart from the cows, we don’t see any other animals.
Small bridges always lead over the levada – sometimes these bridges even lead small canals in a different direction.
Halfway along the route there is a junction that leads to the cascada do risco, a beautiful waterfall.
Here you can immediately notice that this is the destination for a lot of people, at least there is a lot going on here.
We take a longer break because Leon has woken up. We wait an hour before we set off again, which now leaves the levada and moves steeply down and steeply up again. The demands on us are increasing significantly.
We first pass through a forest that looks as if witches live there, and then come out into the open and see the wonderful light of the setting sun over the wooded mountains.
The last few meters are an arduous battle. We are getting tired, Leon is heavy and doesn’t feel like it anymore. Nevertheless, we still have to climb 500 meters back up. We manage, our car wasn’t towed and we immediately make our way back to our accommodation.