LEVADA TRAILS OF MADEIRA

LEVADA TRAILS OF MADEIRA

Following Madeira’s unique network of narrow irrigation channels known as ‘levadas’, and ancient footpaths, this tour incorporates some of the best walking trails on this beautiful volcanic island. Discover rocky shorelines, waterfalls and stunning mountain vistas. Hike to Madeira’s highest peak Ruivo (1862m), and spend time absorbing the delights of the laid-back capital, Funchal.

Highlights:

Madeira | Portugal (Santana, Funchal, Paul Do Mar, Porto Moniz)

Includes:

• Seven nights accommodation in a standard hotel
• Seven breakfast
• Local transportation: minibus
• Driver, Explore tour leader
• Group size: generally 10 - 15

Level of support:

Guided

7 Nights

Price Range: $$$$$


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View Itinerary

Day 1: Join tour in Funchal
Arrive Funchal and check-in to hotel. Funchal takes its name from 'funcho', meaning fennel. According to legend, when Zarco landed here in 1419, he named this spot after the abundance of the herb he found here. Visiting sailors used to call the capital of Madeira ‘Little Lisbon’ because the grandeur of its cathedral and its harbourside buildings reminded them of Lisbon.
Overnight: Standard Hotel Swimming Pool Available, Single Room Available)

Day 2: Scenic coastal walk on Sao Lourenco Peninsula
A short drive via a scenic viewpoint brings us to Sao Lourenco, the north eastern peninsula of Madeira. Here we walk along the cliff tops, on an undulating trail with great views on both sides (approx. 3 hours walk). The rock face displays age old volcanic action, eroded by the fury of the Atlantic Ocean. This area is dry and desert-like and offers a contrast to the rest of the island, which is lush and verdant. We continue with a drive to Santana, through a peaceful agricultural area, where the rich soil helps to yield up to three crops yearly. An idea of how rural Madeira once looked can be gained from the area’s many examples of traditional thatched ‘A’ frame houses known as ‘palheiros’. The thatched roofs keep the buildings cool in summer and warm in winter. Due to a high fire risk, meals were often prepared outside. Once lived in, some of these buildings are now used as cowsheds – the terrain in this area is too dangerous for cows to roam freely. You will often see farmers carrying huge piles of hay to feed their cattle.
Overnight: Standard Hotel Swimming Pool Available, Single Room Available
Breakfast

Day 3: Walk through UNESCO forest to Ilha village
This morning we drive up to Queimadas where our walk to the village of Ilha starts in the the lush UNESCO protected laurel forest following a levada along to the waterfall of Caldeira Verde. We go down a forest path to Ilha finishing with expansive views of the North Coast (approx 5 hours walk). From here our vehicle takes us right along the north coast to Porto Moniz. The 16km stretch of road from Sao Vicente to Porto Moniz took 16 years to complete and was built entirely by hand! Porto Moniz has unusual rock pools,
created by volcanic activity. In summer the sun warms the trapped sea water making them excellent places to swim or simply bask after a day’s walking. When the weather is rougher, the waves crash dramatically over the seawall and it is hard to believe that the rock pools really exist!
Overnight: Standard Hotel , Single Room Available
Breakfast

Day 4: Follow levada paths to Florencas; drive to Paul do Mar
Today we head inland up to the 'Desert Plain' where we follow a levada path overlooking the fertile south coast. A unique feature of Madeira is its network of 'Levadas' - irrigation channels. Fed by natural streams and reservoirs, the network covers over 2000km. Along our route we see caves used by shepherds and may even have goats and cows along with us, as on this terrain they are allowed to roam freely. Our path takes us to Rabacal and then through a long tunnel to join another levada leading down to Florencas (approx. 5 hours walk). The levada paths are often bright with flowers throughout the year thanks to Madeira's pleasant maritime climate. Hydrangeas and oleanders give the paths a blaze of colour: wild agapanthus and bird of paradise flowers can often be seen. This afternoon we drive to Paul do Mar, a small coastal town in the west of the island, that is our base for the next two nights.
Overnight: Standard Hotel Swimming Pool Available
Single Room Available
Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Coastal views from Prazeres. Descend to Paul do Mar
This morning we start with a drive to Faja da Ovelha. Walking along the new Calheta levada we walk through agricultural land (fruit, trees, herbs and flowers) to Prazeres. Prazeres translates as 'pleasure' and it is arguably one of the most picturesque places on Madeira. On the natural terrace there it is possible to relax and take in the views out along the coast. There is also the opportunity to take lunch in a local teahouse famous for its jams and garden. Later we descend down an ancient path to the sea - originally used by fishermen and farmers, often laden down with goods. This cobbled path was laid by the villagers and was the only link between the village and the coast. It is now a scenic walk with waterfalls and flora endemic to this area and altitude. On reaching the coast we walk through Paul do Mar back to our hotel, where there is time to take a swim in the sea, relax in a local café or enjoy the hotel pool.

Our walk today is 11 kilometres and takes approximately four hours. Total descent is approximately -500m.
Overnight: Standard Hotel Swimming Pool Available, Single Room Available
Breakfast

Day 6: Walk to Pico de Ruivo, Madeira's highest point
Today's walk starts at Pico Arieiro (1862m). From here we follow the trail to the summit of Pico Ruivo (1862m), Madeira's highest point, where on a clear day we are rewarded with stunning views down over the island. This route includes walking part of the famous Balcony Walk. This walk can be more challenging than the previous walks, and there is one short, steep part involving secured ladders. However unlike previous walks there is a small mountain cafe just below the summit where we can take refreshments, which makes a welcome rest stop. From here we descend to Achada de Texeira (1542m) before returning by minibus to the island's capital. The old part of town has many restaurants where you can try Espada, a long flat fish unique to the waters around Madeira (and some islands in Japan). This fish has very large eyes and can live at depths below 800m. The Madeirans serve it with banana, which is a delicious combination! Perhaps the best way to spend the evening is on the harbour front, sampling a glass of the famous Madeira wine, enjoyed by many throughout the ages, including Sir Winston Churchill. (Total walking approx. 11kms)

*Please note that the walk from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo can be closed in bad weather. In this case your tour leader will offer you the best alternative walk for the weather and the group.
Overnight: Standard Hotel Swimming Pool Available, Single Room Available
Breakfast

Day 7: Free day in Funchal; optional dolphin and whale watching
Today there is a choice of activities from Funchal. You could take a half day cruise and try your luck searching for whales and dolphins. You may simply wish to take some time to stroll through Funchal, perhaps visiting the colourful market to see the displays of flowers and exotic fruit or nosing into the delightfully old-fashioned shops, maybe finishing the afternoon with tea at the venerable and atmospheric Reids Palace Hotel for a touch of turn of the century opulence. You may also wish to take the cable car up to the tropical gardens at Monte.
Overnight: Standard Hotel Swimming Pool Available, Single Room Available
Breakfast

Day 8: Tour ends in Funchal
Tour ends after breakfast.
Breakfast

Location Map:


Trip operated by Explore World Wide. Prices will be quoted in CAD. CDN$ per person, land only. Based on double occupancy. Other dates available, prices may vary, please contact us for details. Trip Style Classic.

® Merit Travel trademark owned by, and use is granted by, Merit Travel Group Inc. Offers are based on availability and may be subject to change. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions may apply. For full terms and conditions visit, https://merittravel.com/terms-and-conditions/.

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