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Levada walking.

Levada walking.

On Madeira Island, you have a system of irrigation canals that stretches for about 2000 kilometers and they are perfect for hiking.

Madeira offers some very good hiking, as it is an island with high mountains. But it also offers levada walking, which is an alternative way of hiking, that is quite easy. As long as you are not afraid of heights.

Walking along the levadas of Madeira.

Walking along the levadas of Madeira.

The levadas have been there for more than 500 years.

Levada on Madeira.

Levada on Madeira.

When people first arrived to Madeira in the 15th century, they quickly realised that the island has next to no water underground. But plenty of water coming from the sky, as the island is almost 2000 meters high. So they decided to construct a complex system of irrigation canals to water their fields, that relies on rain water. The levadas, as they are called have been extended ever since and to this day, they keep digging canals on the mountains of Madeira.

 

Levada walking is flat, but there is a long way down.

It's sometimes a long way down on Madeira.

It’s sometimes a long way down on Madeira.

Because levadas are water canals transporting water to the farmers fields. They are almost totally flat, so walking on the little trails along them is really easy as there is no elevation. But there are some very big drops down and they are often 100 meters or more straight down and you might be walking on a train that is less than a meter wide. So do NOT attempt this unless you have no problems with heights. I am a very experienced mountain walker that has worked as a trekking guide too. But I am personally more scared when I do levada walking than when I trek the alps or the Himalayas. Not because it’s hard, but because I sometimes feel like I am line dancing more than I am hiking.

Nice view, from the levada.

Nice view, from the levada.

You might consider going with a guide.

I am personally the kinda guy who likes to just walk all by myself, but when you are levada walking, it makes a lot of sense to go with one of the official guides who make small group tours on the levadas. This is simply because the risk of having a serious accident here is bigger than if you are trekking Mont Blanc or Annapurna, because of the massive drops you have. And the local levada guides on Madeira are generally very skilled and full of knowledge, so they are worth their money and they usually don’t take on big groups, so you will most likely just be with a small group of hikers, which is nice.

Farming on Madeira Island.

Farming on Madeira Island.

Levada walking is really n ice hiking and a great way to experience how many people on Madeira still makes a living from farming on almost vertical slopes, using their century old canals, that were build mostly by slaves and prisoners, as it was so dangerous to build them, that no one did that job by choice. So if you are looking for a unique hiking holiday, then levada walking is a good place to look.

Farmland on the north coast of Madeira.

Farmland on the north coast of Madeira.

Claus.

Madeiran lady offering me wine, while walking along the levada.

Madeiran lady offering me wine, while walking along the levada.

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1 Comment

  1. You made me miss Madeira more!!! My kids love the levada walk:)

  2. Pingback: Madeira is the perfect outdoor destination. Not just a place to look at flowers.

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