Explore the Thrills of the Camino Madeira Route: A Guide to Walking Through the Levadas

Camino Madeira Route

Discovering the Magic of Levadas

The Levadas of Madeira are not just irrigation channels; they are pathways to some of the most inaccessible but beautiful parts of the island. These waterways offer a unique hiking experience, as they wind through lush forests, rugged mountainsides, and whispering waterfalls. Walking the Camino Madeira route along these Levadas is like stepping into a living postcard.

Levada do Caldeirao Verde
Levada do Caldeirao Verde, Author: José Antonio Cartelle, Source: Flickr

Exhilarating Activities Along the Camino Madeira Route

Scenic Levada Walks

Levada do Rei: Start with something enchanting. This Levada offers a relatively easy walk, making it perfect for beginners. The trail meanders through a dense forest that opens up to stunning views of Madeira’s verdant valleys.

Levada das 25 Fontes: This is a must-do for any hiker. The path leads to a spectacular waterfall that cascades into a crystal-clear lagoon. The sound of rushing water and the sight of the sun filtering through the laurel forest canopy is purely magical.

Bird Watching and Flora

As you stroll along, keep your eyes peeled for Madeira’s diverse bird species, including the rare Madeira firecrest. The flora here is equally impressive, with endemic species like the Madeira orchid blooming in secluded spots.

Picnicking with a View

Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic with vistas that stretch over rolling hills and rocky coastlines. Find a spot around Ribeiro Frio or the plateau of Paul da Serra for unforgettable panoramic views.

Photography Opportunities

Every turn brings a new photo op, from ancient trees draped in moss to traditional stone mills. The play of light through the mist creates ethereal scenes—perfect for capturing the mystical side of Madeira.

Levada do Furado
Levada do Furado, Author: VillageHero, Source: Flickr

Mountain Biking Adventures

For those who might want a faster pace than walking, mountain biking along some of the more rugged Levada trails offers an exhilarating alternative. The mix of technical terrain and scenic trails ensures an exciting day out for biking enthusiasts.

Explore Hidden Caves and Tunnels

Certain Levadas pass through caves and tunnels carved out of the mountainside. Bring a flashlight and explore these intriguing features. One notable spot is the Levada do Norte, which features several tunnels along its path, offering a thrilling spelunking experience.

Local Cooking Classes

Participate in a cooking class in one of the villages. Madeiran cuisine is rich with flavors influenced by its insular geography. Learn how to make ‘Espetada’ (beef skewers marinated in garlic and bay leaves) or the traditional ‘bolo do caco’ (a local bread), adding a deliciously educational twist to your hike.

Levada do Norte, Madeira
Levada do Norte, Author: VillageHero, Source: Flickr

Star Gazing

The clear skies over Madeira’s higher altitudes provide perfect conditions for stargazing. Join a guided night walk or simply lay back near your campsite and admire the constellations. The area around Pico do Arieiro is particularly known for its spectacular night sky views.

Herb and Flower Identification Walks

With Madeira being home to a vast array of endemic plant species, herb and flower identification walks can be a fascinating addition to your trek. These guided walks educate participants about the local flora, including medicinal and culinary uses of various herbs and plants.

Canyoning in Ribeira das Cales

Start from the Chão da Lagoa forest park and embark on a thrilling canyoning adventure through the Ribeira das Cales. This activity combines hiking, climbing, jumping, and swimming, providing an all-encompassing challenge that’s sure to pump adrenaline.

Visit Historic Levada Watermills

Along some of the older Levadas, ancient watermills are hidden gems that offer a glimpse into the past. These mills were once used for grinding grain and are a testament to the ingenuity of early Madeiran settlers.

Cultural Festivals Along the Route

If your visit coincides with local festivals, you’re in for a treat. Festivals like the Festa da Flor (Flower Festival) or the Madeira Wine Festival offer opportunities to experience local traditions, music, dance, and food in a vibrant setting.

Relaxing in Madeira’s Gardens

End a day’s hike with a visit to one of Madeira’s famous botanical gardens, like the Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro or the Madeira Botanical Garden. These lush, peaceful spaces are perfect for unwinding and enjoying the serene beauty of the island’s exotic plant life.

Madeira Botanical Garden
Madeira Botanical Garden, Author: Michael Gaylard, Source: Flickr

Cultural Insights and Local Encounters

Engage with the local culture by visiting small villages along the route. In places like Santana, famous for its traditional triangular houses, you can immerse yourself in the local lifestyle and perhaps enjoy a traditional Madeiran meal or a glass of the famed Madeira wine.

Casas de Santana
Casas de Santana, Author: José Antonio Cartelle, Source: Flickr

Challenging Segments for the Adventure Seeker

For those who crave a bit of adrenaline:

Pico Ruivo Hike: Connect with the Levadas to reach Pico Ruivo, Madeira’s highest peak. This challenging hike is rewarded with 360-degree views of the island at sunrise—a breathtaking experience not to be missed.

Relaxation After the Trek

After a long day of walking, what better way to unwind than by soaking in one of Madeira’s natural volcanic pools? Porto Moniz offers a stunning natural setting for a relaxing dip in crystal-clear waters, soothing your muscles and mind.

Natural Pools at Porto Moniz
Natural Pools at Porto Moniz

The Journey Is the Destination

Walking the Camino Madeira route through the Levadas is more than just a hike; it’s an exploration of nature’s artistry and human ingenuity. Every step is an opportunity to see, learn, and grow. Whether you’re captivated by the historical Levadas, the vibrant local culture, or the stunning natural beauty, this trail offers a rich tapestry of experiences that cater to every type of traveler.

Ruta de Punta de San Lorenzo
Ruta de Punta de San Lorenzo, Author: José Antonio Cartelle, Source: Flickr


What should I pack for the Camino Madeira route?

Include comfortable hiking shoes, a waterproof jacket, a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water, and snacks. A camera is a must!

Is the Camino Madeira route suitable for all ages?

Yes, there are segments suitable for all skill levels, from easy, scenic walks to more challenging hikes.

How long does it take to complete the Camino Madeira route?

It depends on your pace and how much of the Levadas you wish to explore, but you can plan for anything from a few hours for short walks to several days for an extensive exploration.

Are there guided tours available for the Camino Madeira route?

Yes, you can find numerous guided tour options that cater to various interests and fitness levels, ensuring you have an expert guide to enhance your journey along the Levadas.

Embarking on the Camino Madeira route is more than just a walking holiday; it’s an adventure that feeds your soul. With every step, you uncover new wonders, from the rugged peaks and soothing seascapes to the warm, welcoming culture of its people. Madeira invites you to not just walk its paths, but to live its rhythms and breathe its air—intensely and joyfully.

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip?

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

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