05. November 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Posts

So what is a ‘levada’?


They are a aquaducts that channel water from the mountains and natural springs of the north and central highlands of the island to the stepped agricultural lands of the south.  The channeled water is used for hydro electrics first before being channeled and distributed for agricultural use.

Originally built by slaves, lowered down the steep mountain sides in baskets, for weathy land owners.  Later they were taken over and expanded by the state.  Now they are also popular as walking trails for tourists who especially enjoy the hand cut caves through the mountain side.

The island is criss crossed with a multitude on levadas and we had to choose two.


First walk:    Ribeiro to Portela along side the Serra do Faial levada


View through the thickly forested mountain side

The levada hugs the mountain side

Waterfalls feed into the levada along it’s route

Some of the sections of path are very narrow

You want to have a head for heights

Because it is a deep ravine below

It was a lovely walk with great views like this mountain top rainbow

But you only get rainbows when it rains, and boy did it rain on us


Rain running down the mossy mountain side

But ‘gluttons for punishment’ (and the car rental for only one more day) we went out in the pouring rain to another levada.


Second Walk:    Queimadas walk and tunnels along the Levada to Caldeiro Verde


This levada was constructed of stone in the 1800’s

It has a very pretty start with these government owed ‘rest houses’ that can be rented

It is set in mature rain forest

Some of the old trees were very ‘creepy’ looking


We got to see a rainbow on this walk too.
This time we were looking down on it.

When it rains you get lots and lots of waterfalls

And more waterfalls

But with all the rain the waterfalls were flooding the path we needed to cross

I had to jump across the flooding




The water shooting down on you from the waterfall and the ‘up draft’ trying to lift you off your feet, made the crossing very hairy.  It was even worse on the return trip across.

The rain started coming down in buckets by the time we reached the end of the walk and the series of three tunnels.  The camera was already wet and I was terrified I would damage it further by getting it out, so sorry no pictures.  I am sure a google search will get you a few, if you are interested.

The first tunnel was flooded with about a foot of water.  Being a little short, I found it difficult to distinguish between the levada and the path beside it, especially in the dark.  The humans had head torches, but did not give me one and I had to rely on them guiding me.

When we got to the second tunnel it was much more flooded.  One of the humans went ahead to see if it was safe for me.  They do ‘fret’.  They came back saying that the water was so deep in spots I would have to swim.  It did not appeal to me, so I convinced them to turn back here.  Some body had to be ‘the voice of reason’.

The humans have returned the car, so it is boat jobs and maybe a bus trip for us.

Hope you enjoyed my little tour of Madeira!  Donations to the cost of fuel are acceptable.



03. November 2012 · Comments Off on Arquipeligo da Madeira: Madeira – visiting a few more towns between the rain showers · Categories: Posts

The terraced slopes of a volcanic island

We decided to do some more exploring of the island.  We headed first further down the south coast to the picturesque town of Camara de Lobos.  Churchill famously feel in love with town and painted it.

Agricultural slopes

We were fascinated by the precariously terraced agricultural slopes of the island.  They grow a lot of their own fruit and vegetables and are famous for their banana liqueur.

The fishing port of Camara de Lobos

It was a rough day, even in the protected harbour, so all the fishing boats were pulled up on shore

This is what is looked like on the other side of the harbours natural walls.

Would not like to be out in that

Drying fish aboard a boat

Rough weather means the fisherman can get jobs done aboard, including drying their catch.


We followed the south coast a ways and enjoyed ascending the incredible rocky cliffs and outcrops.  Then we crossed over the island through a deep ravine that reminded me of something out of Jurassic Park.  Jungle covered cliffs boarded us on both sides as we followed a deep river bed through to the sea on the north side.  We came out at the town of Sao Vicente and followed the coast north east to the entertaining town of Porto Moniz.


The rocky north coast

View of Porto Moniz

There were two ‘cool’ things about Porto Moniz.  The first is the rock pools.

The rock pools of Porto Moniz

The second was the grilled limpets.  I never knew you could eat them.  And they are GREAT!

Yum yum

We decided to follow the north coast back to the Marina, which was not a good idea.

The roads were so windy and steep that it took us hours to get home well after dark.

We have learned that taking the express ways and the mountain tunnels is the way to travel on this island.

A little hiking in the mountains is over due.

03. November 2012 · Comments Off on Arquipeligo da Madeira: Madeira – Making the best of being trapped by the wind · Categories: Posts

We have been trapped by the wind so the humans have rented a car so I can join them exploring the island.


Strong winds batter the south coast of Madeira

We decided that exploring the capitol city of Funchal would be a good start.

Cafes among the narrow streets

We happened upon a section of the town called the ‘art district’.  Here there are many small cafes, with seating in the narrow streets, and the home owners express themselves but painting their doors quite artistically.  Here are some examples.

Painted door by a shop

A restaurant with it’s doors painted like a library

Of course we love to find the weird and wonderful in the back streets

The older district of town was a bit more respectable and their were lots of examples of fine architecture and lots of churches.

Dignified older sections of the town centre

You know if I showing an artsy section of town, a dignified section of town….that I will also have to show you the tourist trashing section.

Restaurants along the harbour

Forget the ‘American style’ dinner booth.  At this sea side restaurant you get your own boat booth.

Flooded red rivers in the capitol

Exploring the capitol was great, but the island is struggling under the incredible amount of rain they are getting.  All the rivers are flooded, they have to temporarily close some roads and they have lots of ‘wash outs’ to clean up.


I personally hate the rain and thought I was escaping it as we made our way south.  Instead the humans drag me out in it every day!  I guess you just have to make the best of it!