The PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk is one of the best walks on the island; it’s filled with lush green flora, many waterfalls and is often enjoyed among a bed of clouds.
After many different Levada walks and hikes in Madeira, this is one of my favourites that I have no doubt you’ll enjoy too.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE THE LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE WALK
WHAT IS A LEVADA HIKE?
Madeira has many of its own microclimates. For this reason, it rains far more in the north of the island than it does in the south.
As such, Madeira transports rainwater with over 200 aqueducts – known as a Levada in Madeira – to various parts of the island that need it most.
Typically, Levada’s cascade the mountains and stop by many waterfalls. This has made them popular to follow and has subsequently made them known as Levada walks/Levada hikes in Maderia.
WHERE IS THE LEVADA WALK?
The PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk is situated in the Queimadas Forestry Park, not too far from the authentic Madeiran town of Santana in the northeast of the Island.
Below you’ll find an interactive map with a pin of the start/finish point of the hike. You can use your fingers or mouse to zoom in and out to see how far away this is from where you are planning to stay.
HOW TO GET TO THE START OF THE HIKE
The PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk starts at 990 meters above sea level and involves lots of twists and turns up the mountain to reach the starting point.
If you’re a confident driver and great at hill starts, then the best way to get there is to rent a car and drive yourself.
We used Centauro and had a really positive experience.
Alternatively, you can leave it to the locals and get a taxi or bus to the starting point.
Or, if you’re looking to embark on the walk with others in tow, then there are plenty of organised tours that will take you on the PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk and give heaps of information about the history along the way.
Bear in mind though, that this will take a lot longer than if you were to venture off by yourself.
BEST TIME TO DO THE PR9 MADEIRA CALDEIRÃO VERDE WALK
While others may argue that the best time to hike the Levada do Caldeirão Verde is during the summer months due to more predictable weather conditions, I actually think that taking more of a gamble on the weather to avoid the crowds is better.
We went hiking in Madeira in December, and although we had a few spells of unfortunate weather, we shoved our raincoats on and enjoyed the traffic-free walking routes around most of the island.
Plus, even if you’re heading to Madeira in peak season, there is no guarantee that the weather will be 100% rain-free in the mountains. Luckily, these are often short-lived spells so hiking in Madeira is still awesome.
DETAILS OF THE LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE WALK
Distance: The signposts say around 12km, however, we tracked almost 15km
Time: 3-4 hours
As soon as you’ve parked up, you’ll spot the cafe, toilets and museum straight ahead – this is where you’ll need to head to in order to begin the Levada walk.
Once you’ve found the signpost, the route leads through woodland with incredibly tall trees before quickly finding the Levada that will guide the rest of your journey.
As you wind your way towards your first waterfall, the path begins to narrow and you’ll often find yourself dodging puddles from the overflowing Levada. Luckily, the Levada walls are low and wide enough that you’re able to climb on top and save any soggy shoes.
Nobody wants soggy shoes.
Before long, you’ll discover a small waterfall that spouts off into dozens of directions and tumbles down the cliff edge – a good teaser of what’s to come.
The route then quickly finds a bridge that passes an impressive waterfall of the Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk, yet still not a patch on what’s at your final destination.
Next, you’ll climb up some stairs – a short-lived ascent to this primarily flat Levada walk in Madeira.
As you float above the clouds and hug the edge of Levada, you’ll be met by the first of four tunnels.
A head torch or phone light will see you through the end of each of the tunnels – just mind your head as they vary in height (which I quickly learnt after almost cracking my head on the third tunnel).
Once you’ve made it through the fourth tunnel, you’re not too far from the main attraction of the hike – Caldeirão Verde Waterfall.
As you head deeper into the jungle, you’ll hear the sounds of the water gushing down and undoubtedly get a march on to find what you’ve been searching for falling down into a green cauldron of water.
The Caldeirão Verde Waterfall is 100 meters in height. It’s one of the most impressive waterfalls in Madeira that I’ve seen – which is why the walk is so popular.
Based on the sound alone, it should be obvious which way to walk to find the waterfall. However, if you’re struggling, then once you meet the flow of water, you’ll need to turn left and follow the narrow pathway to the base of the waterfall.
During our visit, there had been a landslide next to the waterfall. This made the perfect platform to get some great shots of the Caldeirão Verde Waterfall – but of course, clambering at your own risk!
After you’ve marvelled at the waterfall, you have the option to continue along the route for another 3km to complete the Caldeirão do Inferno Levada walk – an extension of the Caldeirão Verde Levada walk.
Bear in mind that the signpost states that it is less distance than it is. Your total hike will land at around the 21km mark if you continue on to Caldeirão do Inferno.
If you turn back at this point, you’ll get to enjoy the route for a second time, as this is an out-and-back Levada walk.
I’ve always thought out and back walks are less desirable, however, due to the quick changes in weather conditions in Madeira, the route was quite different on the return.
On the way out, we were hovering above a sea of mysterious clouds. On the return, we could see into the depths of the jungle that had been hiding below and see the sea beyond the mountains. Both conditions provided a unique experience and some fantastic photos.
Upon return to the start of the PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk, it’s worth popping into the cafe for a hot drink and a slice of well-earned cake.
I highly recommend the homemade honey cake. The honey is provided from some nearby beehives, so it doesn’t get much fresher!
MAP OF THE LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE WALK
Although the PR9 Maderia Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk is well-signposted, we like to use AllTrails for almost every hike we do.
Below you’ll find a map of the walk which you can save for later if you have an AllTrails account.
Note: The elevation on the map is wrong – the route is virtually flat. We also recorded almost 15km in distance.
TIPS FOR THE LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE HIKE
Before heading to the Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk you should check the weather. If you’re not already aware, the weather in Maderia can differ drastically from one town to the next, and even more so when you’re heading into the mountains.
When we were visiting in December, the weather in the capital of Funchal was 22 degrees and sunshine, whereas in the mountains it was very autumnal and around 14 degrees – you can literally go through a tunnel and come out the other side to find you’ve entered a different season in Madeira.
It’s crazy but very cool.
The car park costs €3 for the day and is quite small. Although it wasn’t busy when we arrived at around 10 am, we were visiting out of season. I can imagine this fills up quite quickly during peak season so I would recommend getting there early if possible.
- The route
The PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk is one of the most popular things to do in Madeira. As it’s an out-and-back route with narrow paths at times, the walk can be quite slow if there are a lot of people on the trail trying to pass each over. If you can do this Levada walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon and avoid weekends, then I’d definitely do so.
As with most walks that have toilets at the start of the route, you’ll need to pay to use the loo. Make sure you carry some spare change with you at all times when walking in Madeira as they can be quite behind the times with technology.
LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE WALK PACKING LIST
As already mentioned a few times throughout this post, the weather can differ drastically depending on where you are in Madeira.
Not only does it differ drastically, it can also change quickly – Madeira really likes to keep you on your toes!
As such, it’s really important to pack the right walking gear to cater for any shifts in weather.
For PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk you’ll need the below walking gear.
- Waterproof Coat
Regardless of what the weather may throw at you during your walk, a waterproof coat is essential. You’ll be going under trickles of water and without a waterproof, you will definitely get wet. I love my North Face Waterproof Jacket – I’ve had it for years and love how lightweight and easy it is to roll up and put in my bag.
- Waterproof Hiking Trousers
For pretty much the same reason as above I would wear a pair of waterproof hiking trousers in you have some. These Regatta Waterproof Overtrousers are lightweight, making them easy to hike in.
With numerous tunnels through the walk, a headtorch is a great piece of equipment to carry to get you through. Sure, you can carry a phone light, but it’s not quite as bright as Gearlight LED Headlamp. As the tunnels are surprisingly long, they are very dark at times and this can be quite disorientating.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots/Trail Shoes
Although it’s not really essential that you have hiking boots on this walk as it’s not very technical, it is important that your footwear is waterproof.
This isn’t really because of the waterfalls, but more because of the ground if it’s been raining during the night, as the trail can become quite muddy with puddles.
I opted for my Adidas Terrex Hybrid Boots – a cross between a trainer and a walking boot – which did the job perfectly.
As with any hiking trip, you should always take a backpack filled with lots of water, snacks, a mini first aid kit, money and a power bank for your phone. You can never be too careful when you’re hiking, particularly when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings.
Madeira is one of the best islands in the Mediterranean. If you’re heading here, then the PR9 Madeira Levada do Caldeirão Verde walk is an easy walk through the jungle in Madeira and filled with amazing waterfalls and incredible views. It’s a must for any Madeira itinerary.
If you only get a chance to do one Levada walk in Madeira then I would definitely make sure it’s this one!
We hope you have an awesome trip. Let us know in the comments box below if you have any further questions!
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Stay Wild Travels.
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