Levada Trails Of Madeira

7 nights from £701

Pico Ariero to Pico Ruivo hiking route
Ponta do Sao Lourenco
Functional flower market
View Towards Cabo Girao Sea Cliff
Walking in Madeira
Start:Funchal
Finish:Funchal
Duration:7 Nights
Group size:4 - 15
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Medium, Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 7
Diets:Vegetarians, Vegans
Tour operated in: English

Overview

Following Madeira's unique network of levadas and ancient footpaths, this trip discovers the many different sides to this beautiful volcanic island. Walk through Laurel forest, along cliff tops to the Ponta de São Lourenco and past alluring waterfalls. Levada Paths - Variety of picturesque walks alongside the island's unique irrigation channels The Balcony Walk - Spectacular Mountain views along this famous path between the peaks of Arieiro and Ruivo Funchal - Absorb the delights of the laid-back capital with its beautiful gardens, historic buildings and colourful farmers' market Christmas and New Year Departures - Festive markets and spectacular fireworks .......read more
Highlights
  • Levada Paths - Variety of picturesque walks alongside the island's unique irrigation channels
  • The Balcony Walk - Spectacular Mountain views along this famous path between the peaks of Arieiro and Ruivo
  • Funchal - Absorb the delights of the laid-back capital with its beautiful gardens, historic buildings and colourful farmers' market
  • Christmas and New Year Departures - Festive markets and spectacular fireworks
Why Book this Tour
Discover the many different sides to the beautiful, volcanic island of Madeira on this journey around the island.

Itinerary

Location: Funchal

Our trip begins in Funchal, which takes its name from 'funcho', meaning fennel and according to local legend, when Zarco landed here in 1419, he named this spot after the abundance of the herb he found. Visiting sailors used to call the city 'Little Lisbon' because of the grandeur of its cathedral and the buildings that line its harbour. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Funchal at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Madeira Airport (FNC), which is a 25 minutes' drive . Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. Tonight you might like to try one of fresh seafood dishes that Madeira is known for, such as tuna with fried maize or black scabbard with fried banana, and for dessert perhaps have a taste of passionfruit pudding.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Santana

A short drive via a scenic viewpoint brings us to Sao Lourenco, the north eastern peninsula of Madeira. Here we walk along the cliff tops, on an undulating trail with great views on both sides. The rock face displays age old volcanic action, eroded by the fury of the Atlantic Ocean. This area is dry and desert-like and offers a contrast to the rest of the island, which is lush and verdant. There is the option to extend the walk with a short but steep ascent to Ponta do Furado for a viewpoint of the two islands Ilhéu da Cevada and Ilhéu do Farol. We continue with a drive to Santana, through a peaceful agricultural area, where the rich soil helps to yield up to three crops yearly. Along the route we stop at a sugar cane factory and rum distillery for an optional tasting of this dark nectar! An idea of how rural Madeira once looked can be gained from the area's many examples of traditional thatched 'A' frame houses known as 'palheiros'. The thatched roofs keep the buildings cool in summer and warm in winter. Due to a high fire risk, meals were often prepared outside. Once lived in, some of these buildings are now used as cowsheds - the terrain in this area is too dangerous for cows to roam freely. You will often see farmers carrying huge piles of hay to feed their cattle. Today's eight kilometre trek is expected to take around three hours with 100 metres of ascent and descent.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Porto Moniz

This morning we drive up to Queimadas where our walk to the village of Ilha starts in the the lush UNESCO protected laurel forest following a levada and through tunnels (a torch is necessary) to the waterfall of Caldeirão Verde. Standing at the bottom of the 'green cauldron' natural amphitheatre we get a spectacular view of the water pouring down into it. After a picnic lunch we continue down a forest path to Ilha finishing with expansive views of the North Coast . From here our vehicle takes us right along the north coast to Porto Moniz. The 16km stretch of road from Sao Vicente to Porto Moniz took 16 years to complete and was built entirely by hand! Porto Moniz has unusual rock pools, created by volcanic activity. In summer the sun warms the trapped sea water making them excellent places to swim or simply bask after a day's walking. When the weather is rougher, the waves crash dramatically over the seawall and it is hard to believe that the rock pools really exist! Today's 12.5 kilometre trek is expected to take around five hours with 480 metres of ascent and descent.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Paul Do Mar

Today's walk starts at Rabaçal where we follow the Levada do Alecrim (rosemary), one of the most beautiful levadas of Madeira. Along the trail there is a high rate of endemic flora and amazing views onto the Rabaçal and Ribeira da Janela valleys. We will reach the majestic Lagoa do Vento a river basin formed by the water which falls from the top of the cliff, coming from the Ribeira do Lajeado and moving towards the waterfall of Risco. After a quick stop and swim we have an hour walking amongst the Laurel forest to reach the house of Rabaçal where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we follow the Levada do Risco to the waterfall that feeds this levada. After enjoying this magnificent viewpoint we continue to the 800m Tunel dos Cavaleiros through which the beautiful valley of Calheta and the sea is visible. We drive to Paul do Mar, a small coastal town in the west of the island, that is our base for the next two nights. Today's 12 kilometre trek is expected to take around five hours with 475 metres of descent.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Paul Do Mar

This morning we start with a drive to Faja da Ovelha. Walking along the new Calheta levada we walk through agricultural land (fruit, trees, herbs and flowers) to Prazeres. Prazeres translates as 'pleasure' and it is arguably one of the most picturesque places on Madeira, here we visit a local teahouse famous for its fruit jams and garden. On the natural terrace there it is possible to relax and take in the views out along the coast. Once we reach Faja da Ovelha, we descend to Paul do Mar via Vereda dos Zimbreiros this path to the sea which was originally used by fishermen and farmers, often laden down with goods. It is a steep but scenic walk showcasing flora endemic to this area and altitude and views of Paul do Mar and the sea as you walk down. There is the option to take the minibus back to the hotel instead of the descending by this verada. On reaching the coast we walk through Paul do Mar back to our hotel, where there is time to take a swim in the sea, relax in a local café or enjoy the hotel pool. Today's 10 kilometre trek is expected to take around four-and-a-half hours with 500 metres of descent.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Funchal

This morning we'll discover the old town of Funchal, your Explore Tour Leader will take you on an orientation walk around the city. Walking along the narrow, cobbled lanes we pass renovated fishermen's cottages, restaurants, art and craft shops. We wander through the Mercado dos Lavradores, farmers market, and visit a Madeiran embroidery workshop. Take time to admire the art work painted on the doors of oldest street, Rua de Santa Maria. There is the opportunity to visit a wine cellar and taste the different varieties of Madeira wine, the famous fortifies wine produced in the island since the 17th century. In the afternoon there is choice of activities. You could take a half day cruise and try your luck searching for whales and dolphins. You may simply wish to enjoy more time exploring Funchal, strolling through the botanic gardens and finishing the afternoon with tea at the venerable and atmospheric Reids Palace Hotel for a touch of turn of the century opulence. You may also wish to take the cable car up to the tropical gardens at Monte.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Funchal

Today's walk starts at Pico Arieiro (1,862m). From here we follow the trail to the summit of Pico Ruivo (1,862m), Madeira's highest point, where on a clear day we are rewarded with stunning views down over the island. This route includes walking part of the famous Balcony Walk and through several tunnels (a torch is necessary) including the Túnel do Pico do Gato. This walk can be more challenging than the previous walks, and there are some short, steep sections involving stone steps and metal staircases. From the pico we descend to Achada de Texeira (1,542m) before returning by minibus to the island's capital. The old part of town has many restaurants where you can try Espada, a long flat fish unique to the waters around Madeira (and some islands in Japan). This fish has very large eyes and can live at depths below 800m. The Madeirans serve it with banana, which is a delicious combination! Perhaps the best way to spend the evening is on the harbour front, sampling a glass of the famous Madeira wine, enjoyed by many throughout the ages, including Sir Winston Churchill. Today's 11 kilometre trek is expected to take around five-and-a-half hours with 320 metres of ascent and descent. *Please note that the walk from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo can be closed in bad weather. In this case your tour leader will offer you the best alternative walk for the weather and the group.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Funchal

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Funchal. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Funchal at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Madeira Airport (FNC), which a 25 minutes' drive .

What's Included

Included
  • Fully Guided
  • Meals – Breakfast Only
  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)
  • Accommodation

Not Included
  • Tipping and Gratuities
  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day
  • Country Entry Visas

FAQ

Reviews

5* Levada Trails Of Madeira
A great all round holiday experience!
Added By:
Date: 13-Apr-2018

5* Levada Trails Of Madeira
A great trip
Added By:
Date: 13-Feb-2020

5* Levada Trails Of Madeira
Fantastic holiday from start to finish. No complaints or critisms. Superb guide, excellent accommodation and driver. Another brilliant Explore! holiday. Thank you..
Added By:
Date: 04-Nov-2019

5* Levada Trails Of Madeira
Excellent trip. Group was well suited to each other in friendliness and abilities. Leader was exemplary.
Added By:
Date: 10-Nov-2018

5* Levada Trails Of Madeira
A varied island and knowledgable guide meant that even three days of poor weather did not spoil the experience.
Added By:
Date: 15-Feb-2018

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14-Oct-2023
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28-Oct-2023
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Touring with Explore

Explore have been creating award-winning adventures for over 35 years and are experts when it comes to unique travel experiences.

Their small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981 and today, Explore are one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 600 trips to more than 130 countries. At Explore, they are passionate about travel and have developed a wide range of unique activities and experiences which gives their customers an unforgettable adventure with a team of award-winning Explore leaders .

With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.

From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Explore!

7 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Start:Funchal
Finish:Funchal
Duration:7 Nights
Group size:4 - 15
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Medium, Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 7
Diets:Vegetarians, Vegans
Tour operated in: English
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