Posted by: Author | January 9, 2013

Madeira Levada Walking

Facts about Levada Walking What Are Levadas?

The word levada means “to take”.

A levada is an irrigation channel, designed to take water from places where it is plentiful to those where it is not. The Madeirans borrowed the idea from the mountains of Andalucia, where the channels are known as acequias.


Why Levadas were built?
Water is abundant in the mountains to the north of the island, but scarce in the
fertile and sunny south, where most crops are grown. Looking for a way to store
water and carry it to their cultivation terraces and fields, the island’s early
settlers began to build the irrigation channels that form the basis of today’s


Water and Power
Water was essential to the growth of Madeira. It irrigated the wheat, sugar, grape and banana crops, powered the sawmills used to turn trees into timber for construction and ship-building, and turned the wheels of the mills that crushed sugar.


Levada Maintenance
Levadas require constant maintenance to remove rockfalls and vegetation that could block the flow of water. Paths were constructed alongside the chan-nels to allow the levadeiro, or maintenance man, to patrol his length of levada and keep it in good working order.


Levadas as Footpaths
The Levada maintenance paths made perfect footpaths – many of which provide the visitor with easy walking routes, with spectacular views. A resulting guide book, Landscapes of Madeira, has brought thousands of walkers to the island.


Constructing levadas was a feat of engineering. Following the contours meant digging channels into the face of sheer cliffs, or building aqueducts over deep crevices. To reach inaccessible spots, levada builders were lowered down cliffs in baskets.


Contour Lines
To prevent the water from running too fast, causing soil erosion, most levadas follow the contours of the landscape, winding in and out of valleys, descending gradually from the high peaks of the island’s central massif to the ridges and terraces of the south.


Guided Tours
Levada walking is easiest if you join a guided tour. Madeira Explorers and Nature Meetings are good companies; the tourist board will have details of others.



  1. The laveda walks at madeira island is one of the main attraction for any Madeira tourist.Thank you for sharing useful information.

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