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When you visit Madeira, you will learn that a hike is much more than a simple path. It is an intense outdoor experience, where everything is magical and fascinating. To reach the most amazing and dramatic landscapes, there is nothing better than going on foot along walking trails next to the canals known as “levadas”. “Levadas” are irrigation canals that were built in the past to bring water from the north slopes, where it existed in abundance, to the south side of the Island.

MOT Activities

Our trails feature unique, engaging activities with the world’s most beautiful landscapes as background. Take in every detail of this fantastic atmosphere and surrounding landscape and discover these activities at your own pace!

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Nowadays, these channels continue to work with this function and are also widely used for walking,while being in full contact with nature.

 

There are various types of trails throughout Madeira. Some of the easier ones are ideal for beginners, or for those who just want to walk and enjoy a fascinating outdoor experience. Others require a higher skill level, but are breathtaking in their exuberance. In all, there are more than 2,000 km to explore, from sea level to 1,861 metres. The central mountains and the island’s northern side have more mountainous routes, with more accessible trails in the south.
Access to the deep heart, inside the Island, as you follow these primitive rails and irrigation canals.

 

 

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Desertas
Porto Santo
Madeira

Levadas

Vereda dos Balcões

Diffculty
Easy
Distance:
1,5 km (+ 1,5 km return)
Duration:
1h30
Description:

Starting at Ribeiro Frio, at the regional road – 103, this short walk follows Levada da Serra do Faial, and provides access to the Balcões belvedere with superb views over the valley of Ribeira da Metade and the parish of Faial.
From the Balcões belvedere there is a splendid landscape of green valleys of Laurissilva forest, Madeira’s indigenous forest that takes on added importance as a “water producer”.
Along this levada, the varied endemic species include Canary laurel (Laurus novocanariensis), Indian bays (Persea indica) and Madeiran orchids (Dactylorhiza foliosa), as well as non-native trees such as oaks (Quercus robur) and London planes (Platanus x acerifolia).
During the walk you may catch sight of birds such as the Madeira frecrest (Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis), the Madeiran chaffnch (Frigilla coelebs madeirensis), the Madeira buzzard (Buteo buteo harterti) or the very rare Madeira laurel Pigeon (Columba trocaz).
On days when visibility is good, you will be able to see the central mountain chain and the island’s highest peaks, Pico Ruivo, Pico do Areeiro, Pico do Gato and Pico das Torres.

Vereda do Pico Ruivo

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
2,8 km (+ 2.8 km return)
Duration:
1h30
Description:

Starting in Achada do Teixeira, this trail climbs up to the island’s highest peak, Pico Ruivo (1862 m).
There are several shelters along this ascent, since the weather can change very abruptly and the area is often surrounded by a sea of clouds.
Near the Pico Ruivo shelter there are 3 other trails: PR 1 – Vereda do Pico do Areeiro (5.1/6.4 km); PR 1.3 – Vereda da Encumeada (8.6 km) which leads west to Encumeada; and PR 1.1 – Vereda da Ilha (8.2 km), which leads down to the parish of Ilha.
The area of Pico Ruivo, part of the Natura 2000 network central mountain massif area, covers the highest peaks and descends to 1200 m above sea level. It is characterised by herbaceous and shrubby vegetation, such as heathers (Erica scoparia ssp madeirensis and Erica arborea), adapted to temperature variations, heavy rain and strong winds.
In Achada do Teixeira, on the descent, you can see the “Standing Man” (Homem em pé), a curious basalt rock formation.

Vereda do Pico Branco e Terra Chã

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
2,7 km ( +2,7 km return)
Duration:
1h30
Description:

This trail starts on the regional road – 111. On the way to the top of Pico Branco, you will come across a huge prismatic, geological formation, Rocha Quebrada, into which the footpath itself was carved. After the ascent to Cabeço do Caranguejo, the footpath continues through a shrubby area of Monterey cypresses (Cupressus macrocarpa) to a fork leading on the right to Terra Chã and on the left to Pico Branco, the second highest peak on Porto Santo Island. The name Pico Branco (White Peak) derives from a column of white stone and also from the white lichen (Roccella sp) that grows on the rock. This walk passes through a Natura 2000 Directive habitats of the European sites of Community interest network, displaying a large number of endemic flora and fauna (terrestrial molluscs or snails) species. Here you can also fnd important sea bird species, including Cory’s shearwater (Calonectris borealis) and the common tern (Sterna hirundo). From the variours viewpoints located along this trail, you can a have a glimpse of a larger part of the island.

Vereda do Fanal

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
10,8 km
Duration:
4h
Description:

This trail starts on the regional road – 209 at the Paúl da Serra plateau (Assobiadores) and ends near the Forestry Station in Fanal. It also connects to the parish of Ribeira da Janela through the trails PR 14 – Levada dos Cedros and PR 15 – Vereda da Ribeira da Janela. This trail is in a well-preserved area of Madeira’s original Laurissilva forest, classifed as World Natural Heritage by UNESCO and part of the Natura 2000 – European Network of Sites of Community Importance. Enjoy the magnifcent area of Fanal, a small volcanic crater classifed as a resting reserve by the Madeira Natural Park, for a moment of pure relaxation. The beauty of this area lies not only in the imposing old forests of Madeira laurels (Ocotea foetens), some of which were already growing when the island was discovered, but also in the spectacular landscapes that can be seen from viewpoints.

Vereda do Areeiro

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
5,6km / 7 km
Duration:
3h / 3h30
Description:

This walk connects the highest peaks on the island of Madeira, Pico Ruivo (1862 m), Pico das Torres (1851 m) and Pico do Areeiro (1817 m), traversing part of the central mountainous area, a Natura 2000 network site.

Starting at Pico do Areeiro, after a short distance we come to the Ninho da Manta belvedere. This is the breeding site for Zino’s petrels (Pterodroma madeira), an edemic bird
to the island.

To reach Pico Ruivo, we must go around Pico das Torres up a steep incline of steps carved in the rock and then descend. The most diffcult part of this trail is the fnal climb to the shelter at Pico Ruivo.
Near the Pico Ruivo shelter is footpath PR 1.2 which leads to Achada do Teixeira. At Achada do Teixeira we can see the “Standing Man” (Homem em pé), a basalt rock formation that
can be found down the slope, after passing the Achada do Teixeira shelter.

Vereda das Funduras

Diffculty
Easy
Distance:
8,7 km
Duration:
3h
Description:

This trail starts next to Portela belvedere, where there is a view of the parishes of Porto da Cruz and Faial.
The walk begins along a forestry track in the Funduras mountains before joining the footpath.
On the way, you will pass a forestry building, “Casa das Funduras”. From here you can walk to the Larano belvedere with a view of the town of Machico.
The trail ends at the hamlet of Maroços, passing the traditional terraced felds that are so typical of the Madeiran agricultural landscape.
In these mountains you will fnd some species typical of the Laurissilva forest, particularly trees such as Canary laurels (Laurus novocanariensis), Madeira laurels (Ocotea foetens), Indian bays (Persea indica), barbusanos (Apollonias barbujana), among others.
On the other side of the valley you can see the Santo da Serra golf course. On the horizon, you can see the Desertas islands and on land the outline of the highest peaks on the island, Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro.
At Portela viewpoint there is a connection to PR 10- Levada do Furado.

Vereda das 25 Fontes e Levada do Risco

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
4,6 km (+ 4,6 km return)
Duration:
3h
Description:

Both trails begin on the regional road – 110 and go down as far as the Rabaçal shelter.
The trails continue along two parallel levadas on different levels.
Trail PR 6.1 goes along Levada do Risco, at 1000 m above sea level, taking the walker to an impressive waterfall, which falls vertically forming a “scratch” (risco) on the rock.
If you take PR 6, you can visit the lagoon (Lagoa das 25 Fontes), created by water coming down from Paúl da Serra, where you can see more than 25 springs.
At this height, the dominant plants are highland heaths (Erica arborea and Erica scoparia ssp madeirensis) and Madeiran whortleberry (Vaccinium padifolium). The rare mountain Mocano (Pittosporum coriaceum) can also be found. These species form part of the Madeiran Laurissilva forest, designated by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage.
The two levadas carry water from two tributaries of Ribeira Grande and supply the Calheta hydroelectric dam, carrying on to irrigate agricultural land.

Vereda da Ribeira da Janela

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
2,7 km
Duration:
1h30
Description:

This route, which starts on the regional road – 209, in the area of Curral Falso, and fnishes near the village of Ribeira da Janela, is almost all downhill. It runs along a footpath formerly used by the local people to reach settlements on the south side of the island, particularly Calheta and Ponta do Sol. At Ribeira da Janela, you will fnd terraced felds (poios), supported by laboriously built stone walls. The settlement’s name, Ribeira da Janela, comes from the name of Madeira’s longest watercourse, which runs about 15.7 km. Here you may catch sight of Madeira laurel pigeons (Columba trocaz), which are endemic to Madeira. During migratory seasons, you may also fnd birds such as little egrets (Egretta garzetta) or mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). This trail connects to PR 14 – Levada dos Cedros and to PR 13 – Vereda do Fanal, both with access to the area of Fanal.

Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
4 km (+ 4 km return)
Duration:
2h30
Description:

The trail explores Ponta de São Lourenço, the eastern-most peninsula on the island, named after the caravel sailed by João Gonçalves Zarco, one of the three discoverers of the Archipelago of Madeira. This peninsula is volcanic in origin and comprises two islets: Cevada or Desembarcadouro, and Ponta de São Lourenço. After the Baía d’Abra stone wall, the entire area belongs to the Regional Government and is part of the Madeira Natural Park. The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve and the Desembarcadouro Islet is a total natural reserve, both forming part of the European network of important community sites – Natura 2000. With the semi-arid climate and exposure to north winds, vegetation is low-lying, without any trees, differentiating this area from the landscape of the rest of the island. It has a wide range of endemic plants, exclusive to the island of Madeira. In terms of fauna there is one of the largest colonies of seagulls (Larus cachinnans atlantis) in the region, as well as a number of other bird species. On the horizon to the south you can see Desertas islands and to the north the island of Porto Santo.

Vereda da Ilha

Diffculty
Moderate
Distance:
8,2 km
Duration:
3h
Description:

This trail starts at the Pico Ruivo shelter. This is the highest peak on the island and can be reached following route PR 1.2 – Vereda do Pico Ruivo. The trail crosses two different ecosystems that are part of the European network of sites of community importance – Natura 2000: the central mountain massif and the Laurissilva forest.

The massif, which covers the highest peaks down to an altitude of 1200 m, is covered by herbaceous and shrubby vegetation, including a heath (Erica scoparia) formerly used to produce charcoal.

When the trail passes over the Vale da Lapa tunnel it meets PR 9 – Levada do Caldeirão Verde, which begins and ends at Queimadas Forest Park.

On the way down, you will fnd the indigenous Madeira – Laurissilva forest, located between 1200 and 400 m above sea level. When walking down the tarmac road, don’t forget to visit Achada do Marques, in Ilha, a small village with traditional terraced felds (poios) and old traditional thatched houses.