The PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike is one of our favorite hikes in Madeira as there are plenty of waterfalls of all sizes, lush greenery and scenic views along the way. You get to experience true jungle vibes during this memorable hike! It is a relatively easy walk but definitely one of the most beautiful ones of Madeira. A must-do when travelling in Madeira!
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What is a levada?
As explained in our travel guide Madeira, a levada is an irrigation channel. They were originally created to transport water from the north to the south of the island. There are more than 3.000 kilometers of levadas on Madeira. A levada hike is a hike that follows one or more levadas. Most of the time, these levada hikes are relatively easy because they follow the levada, that has a small slope. So don’t expect too many steep parts but rather a hike that allows you to enjoy your surroundings to the fullest.
Wat is a PR hike?
The Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike is a PR trail, more specifically PR9. In total, you can find more than 20 PR routes on Madeira. These routes are recommended by the Madeira government. As these are the principal hiking trails of Madeira, these routes are all well-maintained and perfectly marked.
The Levada do Caldeirõ Verde in short
- Length of the hike – From the parking lot to the Caldeirão Verde waterfall and back is 13 kilometers in total.
- Duration of the hike – Expect to hike between 3-5 hours back and forth. The amount of time you’ll need will depend on your fitness level, the amount of people on the trail, how many photos you take, …
- Difficulty level – the Caldeirão Verde hike is relatively flat. The trail is well-maintained and is clearly marked.
- Best season to do this hike – You can do this hike in any season. However, in summer, the waterfalls will be at their minimum. Also, during high season, the trail will become very busy.
Where does the hike start?
You can park your car at parking Queimadas, a 10-minute drive from Santana and a 50-minute drive from Funchal. You have to pay to park your car (a maximum of 4,1 euro for an entire day). You pay when you leave the parking lot at one of the quaint houses. Make sure to have some cash money with you as paying with a card was not possible at the time we did this hike. At the parking lot you have some public toilets where you need 0,5 euro to enter.
We suggest to start your hike early, especially when doing the Caldeirão Verde hike during high season. The hike is popular so if you want to fully enjoy the hike, it’s best to start the hike at sunrise. Be aware that you’ll have to return the same way. This means you’ll encounter a lot of people on the small trail on your way back, making this often the most tiring part of the Caldeirão Verde hike.
Description of the hike
The hike starts at two picturesque houses. The first part of the hike takes you along a broad path in a forest. After one kilometer or so, the path becomes really spectacular. You’ll walk on a small trail next to the levada with hills covered in fern and moss on the left and deep abysses on the right.
Warning – Although there is a safety cord along the trail, always be careful. Especially when there is a person coming from the opposite direction, we saw a lot of people leaning against the safety cord. We discovered that at some places the poles holding the safety cord weren’t firmly anchored anymore so please be careful!
After a few kilometers, you pass a first waterfall on the side of the trail. Although the waterfall at the end of the hike is definitely more spectacular, we did enjoy the view on this little brother as well. The greenery and light was so beautiful here we couldn’t resist to take some pictures.
During your hike, you pass 4 tunnels in total. The tunnels vary in height and length, so make sure not to bump your head. We recommend taking a flashlight or headlamp with you. Dependent on the weather and season, you’ll also pass several waterfalls that plunge onto the path.
The final steps of the hike take you to the amphitheater of the waterfall. Be aware that you visit this waterfall at your own risk. There has been rockfall and landslides in this area, so please be careful. The main waterfall of the hike is around 100 meters high and plunges in a circular pool. Breathtaking. From here, you are in the middle of the hike and you have to take the same way back to the parking lot. As a reward, we recommend you buy some cake and coffee in the little village near the parking lot and enjoy the beautiful scenery here.
What to take with you when hiking the Caldeirão Verde hike?
- On our hikes, we always make sure to pack lunch and take plenty of water with us. We love the Camelbak we have that allows us to take 2 liters of water each with us.
- Always wear clothes adjusted to the predicted weather. The weather in Madeira can change rapidly so dress in layers. Make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots. Make sure to take a rain coat with you, even if it’s only to protect you against the waterfalls
- Make sure if you take your camera with you to protect it against the water. We recommend to put your gear in a dry bag.
- Make sure you don’t bump your head in the tunnels by bringing a headlight or flashlight.
Where to stay in Madeira?
There are plenty of tourist accommodations on Madeira, but the best city to stay in is Funchal. Because Madeira has a micro climate, Funchal tends to have the best weather conditions. Furthermore it is only 30 minutes away from the airport and has a good connection with all the main roads of the island. All important sightings are within a one hour drive from Funchal.
With its lively harbour, plenty of restaurants and tourist attractions you’re assured to have a splendid time in Madeira.
Check prices and availability here: BOOKING.COM
More of Madeira
Wondering what else to do on Madeira? Make sure to read our travel guide for Madeira.
Looking for more best hikes of Madeira? Check out one of our favourite hikes:
- PR8 Ponta de São Lourenço hike
- PR7 Levada do Moinho hike: discover a stunning hidden waterfall
- PR1 Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike
We hope you enjoyed reading our guide for the Caldeirão Verde hike. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below.
Matthias and Mieke
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