Madeira Nature Trail Adventures
The Nature Trail Adventures in Madeira have made this charming little island my favourite place to explore! South west of Portugal, this island is known for its flora and fauna. I was drawn to exploring the islands amazing hiking trails!
The moment we stepped off the plane, we were surrounded by views of ocean, mountain and banana plantations. Even the city of Funchal is surrounded by beautifully colourful native and tropical plants.
We spent an amazing 3 weeks in Madeira, which was still not enough to explore everything this island has to offer. There was so much to explore, that we thought we would split our Madeira Adventures into 3 parts. This is Part 1, which includes our Nature Trail Adventures and a few other nature spots we loved.
PR11 Levada Dos Balcões
Maderia has many beautiful nature trail adventures to choose from, however we decided to start off with an easy one. Levada Dos Balcões was only a 30 minute bus ride from Funchal, where we were based. The No. 56 SAM bus took us into the mountains, stopping at Ribeiro Frio. Due to Madeira’s awesome bus system, the bus stop is perfectly situated at the start of this 1.5km Levada trail (and PR10 – Levada Do Furado).
The weather in Madeira can be quite unpredictable. We left Funchal on a sunny day to arrive to this nature trail enveloped in fog and light rain. There were a few other keen hikers heading to Levada Dos Balcões, but we all took cover for a bit at the local bar. Most were awaiting some clear skies, in the meantime the bar was busy serving the traditional Poncha as a pre-walk drink. We skip the Poncha in search of a wet weather poncho to keep ourselves and my camera gear dry.
This slightly wet but stunningly foggy walk made the forest look magical! The tropical and native plants were popping with green and fading away into the foggy distance. As we arrive to the viewpoint hoping to see the beautiful scenery, the Balcões Fog has created a ghostly void beyond the balcony. We couldn’t see landscape or anything below, however we came across some amazing native Madeiran Chaffinch birds that were happy to hang out with us. We got to feed these unique creatures directly from the palm of our hands. A highly recommended experience!
PR10 Levada Do Furado
This 11km nature trail was going to be my longest hike yet, and I was prepared for some challenging moments along the cliff edges. We were happily back on the No. 56 SAM bus into the beautiful mountains, stopping at Ribeiro Frio once again. The Levada Do Furado is conveniently located across the road from Levada Dos Balcões, therefore it’s possible to squeeze both into the same day.
We head into this stunning forest like kids in a candy store, to begin our 5+ hour journey to the other side in Portela. This time we got the sunshine peeking through the trees. Levada hikes follow along Madeira’s irrigation system as a guide.
It was a calm, quiet and fairly easy nature hike, amongst the most beautiful greenery I have ever seen. We came across curious tunnels, small waterfalls, and many moments of pause to take in some grand valley views. As expected, this trail was edgy at times, which challenged my lack of love for heights!
Naturally our ETA became later than the expected 5 hours, being a photographer I can’t help but stop and document the amazing scenery. We finally make it to Portela, and successfully finish our first 11km hike! Arriving at Portela we find a local bar across from the bus stop, so it’s time to refuel.
I enjoyed a delicious Bolo Do Caco (Madeiran bread with garlic butter and ham), in addition to a refreshing passionfruit Brisa (the local soda of Maderia).
Curral Das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns)
We had some lovely friends offer to take us for a morning drive to Valley of the Nuns, a village located in what is believed to be the crater of an extinct volcano. We opted for the short walk up to the Eira do Serrado viewpoint, as we had a few other spots we wanted to see that day. The view of the gigantic mountains surrounding Nun’s Valley made the village below look microscopic. The natural ridges and detail of the mountains created some stunning shadows, which especially caught my eye!
We took a drive down to the valley to enjoy some traditional treats in the village. My favourite was the Bolo De Castanha (a traditional chestnut cake of the village) and the Ginja (a typical cherry beverage).
Cascata Dos Anjos (Waterfall of the Angels)
Our next spot to see was on the way to Ponta Do Sol, where we stopped at the well known and picturesque Waterfall of the Angels. This waterfall is amazingly located on the ER101 road, undeniably making it the most beautiful car wash I’ve ever seen! Our local friends mentioned how crazy it can get in the summer, so we were lucky enough to be there (in October) at a time with very few people around.
I made the instant decision to embrace the moment, before running under the waterfall to take an invigorating outdoor shower (fully clothed). ‘Breathtaking’ is how I would describe my experience, therefore I went back for another soak, taking my friends with me!
PR8 Vereda Da Ponta De São Lourenço
I couldn’t help but mention this magnificent coastal hike, which became my favourite hiking trail in Madeira! This nature trail along the eastern peninsula was an amazing challenge with a constantly rewarding panoramic view.
Stay tuned for part 2, when we will go into detail about this Vereda Trail and more Madeira Coastal Adventures!
Want to bring some Nature wanderlust to your home? Browse our latest additions of Nature Photography Prints featuring our Madeira Nature Trail Adventures including: Nuns Valley Ridges, Madeira Forest Fog, Balcoes Birds, São Vicente and so much more!
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