When I first landed in Madeira, Portugal, I thought I had accidentally landed in a scene from Jurassic Park. Lush green flora, dramatic cliffs and ancient waterfalls (with the added bonus of being T-Rex free!) had me eager to explore the wild landscape.
What are Levadas?
Lucky for me, Madeira is known for its Levada trails. Originally built for irrigation purposes, these man-made waterways stretch in all directions over the island, their flat banks making for the perfect hiking paths. With over 200 to choose from, you could easily hike for days if you wanted to.
With only 48 hours to spare in Madeira, we wanted to make the most of the time we had and decided to hire a local guide. This made sure we were able to find exactly what we were looking for: Beautiful views, a hike that wasn’t too difficult and a stop in a smaller village or two.
Hit the Road Tours was the perfect choice! We woke up early to meet our guides, who picked us up in a van to take us on our adventure. After stopping for coffee and yet another Pastel De Nata for breakfast in Machico we drove around sharp-edged cliffs and through colourful villages to the start of our Levada hike.
Our hike was only 1.5 hours because we wanted enough time to fit in a few other activities that day, but it still managed to pass through forests, panoramic cliffs and mars-like dessert terrain.
After our hike, our guides took us to the small fishing village of
Do Your Research: With over 200 Lavada’s, there are hikes for every ability level. Be sure to do your research before to make sure you are choosing the best one for you!
Check Weather and Trail Conditions: Because many of the hikes are on steep hills and rocky cliffs, heavy rain fall can be dangerous. Check local websites before to make sure it’s safe to go.
Have the Proper Gear: Like hiking anywhere, it’s always safer to have the proper gear. Hiking boots can protect your ankles and a good hat and sunscreen can help hide you from the strong sun.
Hire a Local Guide: When hiking in a new place, I often like to hire a local guide. Not only do they know the conditions better than you do, but they can also point out some secret spots that only locals can find!
Let Someone Know Your Plans: This is safe to do any time! Let someone at your accommodations or back home know where you’re going and when you’re expected to return so that if anything happens, someone knows to look for you.