The famous Levada hikes
On Madeira you will find more than 3000 kilometers of levadas and together they form the impressive irrigation system of Madeira. The ancient levadas were built in the 16th century to transport condensation water and rainwater from the humid north via the mountains to the dry south. The paths next to the winding levadas were intended to be able to maintain the levadas. Today, these are popular hiking trails that make it possible to discover Madeira’s rugged inland.
Also read: Hiking on Madeira: Tips and 6 beautiful hikes
Practical information about the hike
PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde is 13 kilometers in total and takes about 4 to 5 hours. The hike incline over the entire hike is only 100 meters. The walk is flat and is therefore a perfect hike for beginners. It is a point-to-point hike, so you walk the same way back.
Near the parking lot you will find a small house where you can eat or drink something. There are no facilities during the hike. So make sure you bring enough water and food. There are also toilets only at the starting point of the hike, for which you pay € 0.50 (cash only).
Handy to take with you / clothing advice
It can often rain in this part of Madeira. During the hike you will also walk right past several waterfalls. That is why we recommend bringing a raincoat and a waterproof cover for your bag so that your gear and other valuables don’t get wet. The trails are often wet and slippery, so it is important to wear (hiking) shoes with extra grip.
Walk with us
The hike starts at the typical Madeiran cottage with a thatched roof and red accents, where you can eat or drink something before or after the hike.
Discover the dense jungle of Madeira
In the first few kilometers of the hike you are completely surrounded by the greenery of ferns, tropical trees, colorful flowers and moss-covered rock walls. You will be in the middle of the lush jungle of Madeira for a while. Along the way you will come across some beautiful waterfalls and you will walk over bridges and narrow paths along the levada.
Tunnels during the hike
Halfway through the hike you will come across four tunnels. They are carved out of the rocks by hand. These tunnels differ in length and height. Watch your head in the tunnels because at some parts they can be very low. You definitely need a headlamp in the tunnels. Of course you can always use the flashlight of your phone, just make sure your phone is charged enough.
Breathtaking views and drop-offs
On the last part towards the largest waterfall of this hike you have the best views over the stunning São Jorge valley and the surrounding mountains. The views are getting more and more impressive, but the abysses are getting deeper and deeper. The levada flows along a the cliff at the last part, this can be challenging if you are afraid of heights. But luckily the trail is well maintained and the drop-off sections have fences to make the trail safe. Abel is afraid of heights and has walked the entire hike. If he can do it, so do you!
Admire one of the highest waterfalls on Madeira
The goal of the hike is to walk to one of the highest waterfalls on Madeira. This waterfall is powerful and the water falls from a height of 100 meters into an ice-cold natural pool. This is the perfect spot to have lunch, enjoy the beautiful nature and relax before walking back up the trail.
Good to know
A few meters before you arrive at the waterfall you will come across a sign that says that it is forbidden to get close to the waterfall and the Caldeirão Verde lagoon area. We thought this was a pity, because the sign can only be found at the end point. The area has been closed off due to a landslide and rockfall here in 2019. So it is risky and can be dangerous to get close to the waterfall.
Tip for extra impressive waterfalls
Do you want to see this spectacular waterfalls in the best conditions? Then go in the seasons when it rains more often on Madeira. Then there will be more water pouring down the waterfall. We were on Madeira in March. The island is not yet fully in bloom as it is later in the spring, but the waterfalls were very powerful and extra impressive.
How to get to the trailhead
PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde starts in the north of Madeira, near the village of Santana. You can get to the starting point of the hike in different ways.
The easiest way to get to the starting point of the hike is with a rental car. It is a 45-minute drive from Funchal. Navigate to Levada da Silveira first, from there Google Maps will direct you to the correct parking place Queimadas Parking Lot. It is a paid parking lot where you pay about €1 per hour, with a maximum of €3 per day (these were the prices in the low season in early 2022).
With a guided tour
Don’t have a car and don’t want to be dependent on public transport? Then it is possible to do this walk with an experienced guide who will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or apartment. An advantage is that you also learn a lot about Madeira during a tour.
By public transport
Would you rather walk by yourself, but don’t have a car? Then you can also take public transport to the starting point of the hike. Keep in mind that you will be on the road for a long time by public transport and this hike is not easy to reach. From Funchal, take bus line 56, 103 or 138 of the bus company Horários do Funchal towards Santana and from there travel the last part by taxi. Pay attention to the times when the bus will leave again and make sure you are at the stop on time. The buses only run a limited number of times a day. If you miss the bus, there is a chance that there will be no more buses driving that day.