Madeira – Misty Mountains and Levadas

There’s something humbling about standing on our planet, but being above the clouds. You can’t help but think what a truely marvelous place the Earth is.

Clouds Rolling in Pico do Arieiro

We’d got up really early to catch the bus up to Pico do Arrieiro, Madiera’s third highest peak. The journey had taken us up through agricultural terraces, forest and moorland, to reach the visitor centre 1810 metres above sea level. The view, like the air temperature took your breath away, all around cloud clung to the valleys in the moorland, while distant ramblers were dwarfed like ants in the landscape.

Madeira is famous for its walks and the next place on our itinerary, Ribeiro Frij in the Natural Forest of Madeira World Heritage Site, presented the opportunity to enjoy an easy Levada walk.

Trout Fry Ribeiro Frij Fish Farm

Ribeiro Frij means cold river in Portuguese and the National Parks Department have established a trout farm in the town to take advantage of the supply of naturally cold water. Before we got started on our Levada walk we had a good look at the pools where the trout at different stages of the life cycle were kept.

Just About Oven Ready

The levadas are irrigation canals that bring water from the mountains down to the farmlands where it is more arid. The Portuguese built the first levadas in the 16th century and there is a network of 1,300 miles of canals cut into the sides of the mountains. Many of them are quite hazardous to walkers, but we were pretty safe on our chosen route which took us through the the Laurelsilva forest,

Incedible scenery on the Levada Walk

before meeting some of the friendly chaffinches at the Balcoes.

Friendly Chaffinch

It was then a short walk back to our coach pick up.

Our coach pick up point

On the way down to the coach, I noticed these terracotta doves at the corners of the roof of a farm house. These and other such mouldings are a common feature on Madeiran houses. Busts of women and children and dogs are also popular and it is said that Portuguese sailors brought the tradition back from the Far East.

Terracotta Dove

Our next stop was the town of Santana where some of the traditional triangular thatched houses have been preserved as shops selling local tourist items, including some very tasty biscuits.

Traditional Madeiran Houses

Just behind the houses this deligthful old lady was keen to show us her sweet potatoes.

Look at my Spuds.

The town of Santana extends to the coast, where we had the lunch that was included in the trip. I had a very good tuna steak accompanied with some excellent white and a paint stripper red.

Beach at Santana

After lunch we had a wander around the beach, well not so much a beach as a small estuary much favoured by the local cats, before taking the coach back to the resort.


Our Eastern Delights trip was booked through Thomson Holidays, cost £38.99




2 thoughts on “Madeira – Misty Mountains and Levadas

  1. Please ,I would love to know where I could buy 2 of those charming terracotta doves. I had them on my garage roof and ,unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy destroyed one of them. I would love to replace them so if you could send me some information ,I would appreciate it. Thank-you!

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