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A Fascination with
Madeira island is a truly unique destination of fascinating natural beauty, rising steeply and majestically from the Atlantic ocean. Few places on earth offer such a variety of scenery with breathtaking cliffs, rocky peaks, alpine plateaux and lush valleys, whilst still retaining an unspoilt beauty and natural charm. The biggest and most spectacular attraction of this island of volcanic origins is mother nature herself. Two-thirds of Madeira’s nature is protected by law, and one of its highlights is Europes oldest and biggest Laurel Forest which has been declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. But there is something else! From all around the globe avid trekkers, walkers, hikers, ramblers and wanderers converge on this sub tropical island for a very distinct reason. They have discovered that Madeira island can be explored and experienced from within the very heart of the island and often with little effort using the world renowned Levadas walks. The Levadas which are almost unique to Madeira, were started in the 15th century as a way of bringing water from the mountains to irrigate the fertile soil in the south of the island. The irrigation channels run through valleys and tunnels, along cliff edges and mountain sides in gentle gradients which make them not only perfect for walking but also gives the walker a remarkable variety of scenery.
The Levada paths take you into areas totally inaccessible by normal means and give you views that are perfectly breathtaking. There are over 1400 kilometres of levadas and they provide a remarkable network of walking paths. The majority of them provide easy and comfortable access through beautiful countryside filled with laurel forests, whilst others are more challenging with walks over peaks and mountains, through tunnels and under waterfalls, taking hikers into a rare natural world not available anywhere else in the world. Levada walking has become a popular Madeira holiday activity in itself, attracting many enthusiasts from all over the world. Many walkers choose to go it alone, which is not a problem as there are maps and guide books for sale in the local shops. Others opt for the security and informative services of licensed professionals. In this report we present two highly experienced holiday activity companies that offer organised levada walks, provide transport, use the proper equipment and accompany walkers with professional mountain guides. In the hands of these experts you can rest assured your walks will be safe and highly memorable experiences.
Madeira Adventure Kingdom & Madeira Happy Tours
Madeira Adventure Kingdom is a touristic animation company. This experienced company was born with the dream of promoting Madeira island as the ideal destination for ‘Active Adventure Holidays’. Madeira offers very pleasant temperatures and therefore a very wide range of activities can be undertaken throughout the year. Apart from Levada Walks they also offer Canyoning, Scuba diving, Madeira island coach tours, Jeep Safaris and Whale & Dolphin Watching. The team of professionals at Madeira Adventure Kingdom are very passionate about Madeira island and they want nothing more than to enthuse their guests with this passion. They know that if you allow them to show you the beauty of Madeira, you will love the island enough to want to return again. This is symbolized in their logo which is represented by two Boomerangs. So let’s take a look at some of the Levadas you can walk with Madeira Adventure Kingdom? Caldeirão Verde This is with no doubt one of the most beautiful levadas in Madeira Island. It is located in the Laurissilva forest and its main characteristics are certainly the predominant emerald-green colours, the fantastic views of S. Jorge and the accompanying presence of water during almost all of the journey. After going through five tunnels of natural basaltic rock you will be spellbound with the Caldeirão Verde, a beautiful waterfall with crystal clear water. Distance: 12 km. Difficulty: Moderate
Rabaçal/ 25 Fontes (25 springs) This levada begins on the largest plateau of Madeira, the Paul da Serra. From this viewpoint you can enjoy the most beautiful valley in Madeira island, the Rabaçal. If there is a characteristic that represents this path it is the presence of copious amounts of water. You will visit the matrix of the Lajeado Levada, and then a spectacular green - blue lagoon. On this spectacular route one can experience the enchanting endemic flora and fauna of Madeira Island. Distance: 12 km. Difficulty: Moderate
Levada do Rei This route start in the water treatment station in São Jorge, in the North of the island in Santana. This Route show us two different forests, the indigenous forest and the Laurissilva forest. This is a Beautiful trail, that shows the agricultural landscapes of the island and the famous Laurissilva Forest that provides shelter to several variety of fauna, such as the Bis-Bis (Firecrest) and the Tentilhão (Chaffinch). The Laurel is a species that can be seen in abundance in this trail as other endemic species of Madeira. Distance: 10 km. Difficulty: Moderate
All the walks and other activities offered by Madeira Adventure Kingdom include any necessary equipment, insurance and transport. For full information about Madeira Adventure Kingdom Levada walks and their other activities, visit their comprehensive website at: www.madeira-adventure-kingdom.com
Madeira Happy Tours Madeira Happy Tours provides momentous coach tours throughout the beautiful island of Madeira. They have tailor made excursions to ensure you see the most beautiful and scenic parts of the island and take home unforgettably wonderful memories. Offering great value for money, they will pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation. Madeira Happy Tours has also developed a walking programme suitable for walkers of all levels. From easy walks which you can do at your own pace to much more challenging walks and all accompanied by professional friendly and knowledgeable guides certified by the Madeiran authorities. With a large selection of both full day and half day walks, you will certainly be spoilt for choice. See the map on the following page and discover where the walks are located, walking times and levels of ease.
Full day walks: 1 - Maroços levada - 12 kms., easy walk. 2 - Rabaçal - 25 Fontes -12 kms., moderate levada walk. 3 - Ponta de São Lourenço - 12 kms., challenging hills walk. 4 - Ribeiro Frio - Portela - 12 kms., moderate levada walk. 5 - Queimadas - Caldeirão Verde - 12 kms., moderate levada walk. 6 - The Kings levada & North East views - 11 kms., easy walk. 7 - Pico do Arieiro - Pico Ruivo - 12 kms., challeging moutain walk. 8 - Madeira Lakes & South West views - 12 kms., moderate levada walk. 9 - Calheta levada nova - 12 kms., easy walk. 14 - Boca da Corrida - Encumeada - 15 kms., challeging mountain walk. 15 - Prazeres - Ponta do Pargo - 12 kms., moderate levada walk. Half day walks: 10 - Maroços levada - 6 kms., easy walk. 11 - Vale Paraíso levada - 6 kms., easy walk. 12 - Referta levada - 6 kms., easy walk. 13 - Levada do Norte - 6 kms., easy walk. 16 - Gaula - Santo da Serra - 9 kms., moderate walk. 17 - Maroços (Fonte Vermelha to Paraíso) - 10 kms., easy levada walk. 18 - Curral dos Romeiros - The Tea House - 5 kms., easy levada walk. 19 - Quinta Grande - Boa Morte - 10 kms., easy walk. 20 - Eira do Serrado - Curral das Freiras - 6 kms., moderate mountain walk. Includes coffee and cake. What to bring: footwear with good grip, layered clothing, waterproofs, hat, sun protection and drinking water. For full information about Madeira Happy Tours Levada walks and their other activities, visit their comprehensive website at: www.madeirahappytours.com
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