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.



1 Comment

  1. Love the footage of the waterfall Quinney, just showed it to Mrs O and we think we may try and book a holiday in Madeira next summer. I bet daddy was gutted when he couldn’t find that mobile pub up there…Stay safe and out of caves filled with water.. x