Walking In Madeira 2 – Levadas & Mountains
Walking in Madeira 2 saw us enjoy both levada and mountain hiking. Levadas are narrow irrigation channels that run for 1,350 miles on Madeira and provide water for the terraces of crops that supply the island with much of it’s fruit and vegetables.
Day 3. We caught the bus to Estreito da Camara de Lobos where we joined the Levada Do Norte for the 14 mile, 5½ hour walk to the outskirts of Ribeira Brava. This is arguably one of the best levada walks on the island. If you are spending time walking in Madeira, then this is one not to be missed.
The levada winds it’s way through the many fertile valleys on the south coast of the island giving constant terrific views all around. A tunnel is encountered, where a torch is recommended, near Cabo Girao. Cabo Girao at 589 metres/1,932 ft, is one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. After 4 hours walking, a much needed bar is reached at Boa Morte. The levada continues another 8 miles all the way to the power station at Serra de Agua. Unfortunately this becomes extremely vertiginous, with no protection from the extreme drops. Long tunnels are also encountered on this extension to the walk.
Soon we reached the remote village of Eira do Mourao and the daunting 2000 steps down to the road near Ribeira Brava. This was a killer on the knees and our reward was a couple of beers before catching the bus back to Funchal.
Day 4. Today on walking in Madeira 2 saw a near cloudless sky. The forecast was good with no cloud. This was the day to tackle one of the top mountain walks on the island, Pico Grande. We took an 08:00 taxi to Boca Da Corrida, high up in the mountains and started the 9 mile, 5½ hour walk at around 09:00.
On fine days like this walking in Madeira 2 in the mountains was an absolute pleasure. The views all around from the high peaks are spectacular. The detour to climb Pico Grande takes around 1½ hours but is well worth the effort, despite some tricky sections with steep drops. The final ascent to the rocky knoll is by pulling yourself up on a wire hawser to reach the summit. Descending the knoll can be even trickier because it is difficult to see the footholds and without the hawser many injuries and even fatalities would occur.
After the exhilarating Pico Grande the walk to the finishing point at Encumeada is a slight anti-climax but still offers spectacular views all the way. Encumeada is the high mountain pass separating the north and south sides of the island. We had an hour to kill before our taxi back to Funchal so the only option was to enjoy a beer and poncha or two.