When Is the Best Time
This is an adventurous and demanding Levada day hike, passing 11 tunnels and many waterfalls. The return hike took roughly six hours, including a lunch break and several photo stops.
I hiked many Levada trails in Madeira. The Caldeirao Verde Levada plus Inferno is easy to reach from Funchal and the north of Madeira. If you don't mind a longer journey to the trailhead, this is the best Levada of all, in my opinion. It took me 1.30 hours to drive one way, and it was worth the long journey from the western side.
These are two hikes in one. Please don't skip the part to Caldeirao do Inferno. It is the most exciting part of this hiking adventure. Essential is a torch or, better, a headlight for the eleven tunnels, some over 200 m long. You can hike this trail throughout the year, but it’ll be wetter in the winter and springtime.
The best time for this trail is between June and October when Madeira experiences a small amount of precipitation. For summer, start early to beat the crowds and avoid weekends.
More about my favourite Levada hike in Madeira is below. For the exact location of this trail, check out my map, number 2 this is this Levada adventure.
If you would like to know more about Madeira, don't miss out on my other guides: Levada and waterfall hiking trails, sunrise and sunsets, the Pico Arieiro hike, excellent natural pools and beaches, and food specialities? Check out my new guides with tips for a perfect stay on this breathtaking island of Portugal.
This is one of the most spectacular and scenic Levada hikes in Madeira. Getting wet on this day hike is part of the experience. It took a long time to build this Levada from 1877 and completed around 1904. The first part of the Levada hike to the Caldeirao Verde waterfall is already fascinating, but the real adventure starts afterwards. The second part is much shorter but more demanding. The entire return hike is 17.5 km long and takes roughly 4-6 hours, depending on your fitness level.
The last kilometre by car is already promising, leading through an old-grown forest along big tree trunks. I didn't expect such a huge car park in such a remote area. It belongs to the Queimadas Forest Park, a nature-protected area. This parking fills up quickly during the weekends.
It is a beautiful area with ancient trees. It is worth coming here even if you can't walk far. Already, the first few hundred meters through this exceptional Queimadas Forest Park have been a wonderful excursion.
The beginning of the Levada hike is a well-maintained wide path. It is an excellent forest for strolling with children or for the elderly. Next to the car park is a café, restaurant, and restrooms, the "Casa das Queimadas ".
Levada do Caldeirao Verde PR9 Hiking Trail Description
The return hike is 13 km long and takes 3.5 to 4 hours. The trail is almost flat; just one part is equipped with staircases. The track is leading through four tunnels. The first part is an easy walk on a wide trail.
By the time it narrows, a stairway leads down to the first waterfall. In former times, you could walk through the waterfall. You cross a bridge now and watch the fantastic fall tumbling into a pool.
Now, a staircase is leading up to approach the same elevation as before. Sometimes, I walked on the Levada wall to continue the hike. The first tunnel appeared - 30 m in darkness. The Levada track offers breathtaking views of the north coast and the hinterland. Water is running, dripping from the walls down to the Levada and hiking trail.
The walls are green, full of moss and plants. It takes 4.5 km – 1 hour from the beginning to the second tunnel. It already looks awesome from the outside, like walking into an unknown deep hole. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of walking through this 250 m-long tunnel. I was glad to have my headlight in my backpack.
The tunnel is pretty low; some parts are not higher than 1.50 m and less. I am 1.62 m tall, and on the way back, I bumped my head heavily. So, walk with caution here! The ground is full of paddles. Watch where you are walking.
After the tunnel is before the tunnel, this is the third tunnel and roughly 200 m long. In between are vent holes providing fresh air and incredible views of the breathtaking landscape. The end of this tunnel is worth a photo stop on this Levada hike.
Continue walking along the narrow and, in some parts, exposed Levada trail. Railings were installed for protection. Only one more short tunnel leads around the corner, and it is not too far to get to the spectacular 110 m high Caldereio Verde waterfall.
Take a refreshing break at the pool at the bottom of the immense waterfall. There is sunlight in the morning, only the rest of the day; the pool and waterfall are in the shade. A bath in the lagoon is prohibited. Either walk the same way back, or you can continue exploring more of this outstanding piece of nature in Madeira that I did.
Caldeirao do Inferno
The second part is a short 4.5 km return hike and takes at least 1.5 rather 2 hours. It is a challenging and strenuous hike leading through seven tunnels and a waterfall. You get rewarded with stunning views and waterfalls on this short trail.
First, you access a staircase leading down and up to circuit a wall and the previous trail along the Levada. In former times, you could follow the Levada and walk underneath another fantastic waterfall. This part was destroyed by a landslide.
When you reach the steepest and longest staircases, all marked with a sign leading up to the left, continue just for roughly 100 m to reach the next outstanding waterfall and its pool. Enjoy the tranquillity of this place and enjoy the refreshing spray.
Now, climb up the staircase to get to the most adventurous part of this outstanding hike. To the right is the waterfall you went to before. When you reach the top, the tunnel exploration starts. First, a short tunnel leads to the right.
Soon after, you reach the next waterfall in front of a short tunnel. Walking behind the waterfall is the only option to continue. Again, I got a little wet before entering this short tunnel, and soon, the next long one appeared.
This tunnel is 200 m long and low. Be careful with your head. Water is dripping from the ceiling, and puddles are spread on the path. You reach the next highlight now; a cauldron with a picturesque waterfall to the left and a gorge plus waterfall to the right. Soak in the beautiful scenery before you continue to the next 200 m long tunnel.
Again a long and wet tunnel, but luckily with vent holes again. After this tunnel, you walk just 20 meters outside before reaching the next roughly 150 m long one leading around the corner. Water dripping from the ceiling. Enjoy the walk and the landscape when you leave the tunnel. The hinterland is beautifully grown like a jungle soon after you access the next tunnel.
This is a dark and straightforward tunnel that is only 100 m long. Just one more short tunnel, and you almost reached the end of this trail. The Caldeirao do Inferno itself is less spectacular IMO just a high wall, but water is falling and dripping to the floor. However, the scenery, the many waterfalls, the tunnels, and the windows to glimpse the stunning landscape are fascinating and exciting.
You walk the same way back to the car park. However, the Levada track looks different and spectacular on the return hike.
Spoil yourself at the cafe and restaurant and enjoy a cold beverage before returning satisfied and tired from this strenuous hike.
- Plenty of water it is a long day hike or refill your bottle during the hike
- Lunch, energy food, and snacks; you get hungry on this long hiking trail
- Rain jacket for the many waterfalls or an umbrella for the wettest sections
- An extra layer if the weather changes and it is cold and damp inside the tunnels
- Most of the track is in shade, but for some parts, sun protection is needed
- A waterproof bag or backpack is necessary because of the high amount of water everywhere.
- Proper hiking shoes
Would you like to know where to find the best natural pools and beaches in Madeira? Check out my additional article about the best spots for swimming.
My Top Accommodation Tips
The north of Madeira is wilder, lush green, with a breathtaking rugged coastline and cliffs similar to Kauai in Hawaii, and less busy. We frequently drove to the north because of its beauty. The Hotel Quinta Do Furao is located close to Santana, to this amazing Levada Hike and to the Ruins of Sao Jorge. The ruins are one of my seven must-see Instagram spots.
The view from the hotel garden is already spectacular. This hotel is a place to connect with nature and unwind. The hotel staff is outstanding, you get a great variety and quality for breakfast, and the restaurant offers delicious meals. A rental car is needed if you would like to stay at Hotel Quinta Do Furao.
The Calheta Beach Resort is excellently located in front of the beach and sea, and within walking distance is a small supermarket Pingo Doce. It is shallow water here and, in combination with the sand beach excellent for children. Swimming is best at high tide, and snorkelling is amazing. Due to the breakwater, the bay and beach are well protected from powerful waves and currents. It is one of the very few sandy beaches in Madeira.
Ponta do Sol
This town is located in the south, and it is one of the sunniest places in Madeira. There is an interesting historic town centre, lovely restaurants, and one of our favourite spots for swimming. The protected bay is well laid out.
There are lots of highly-rated hotels in Ponta do Sol. These hotels (by Stay22 and booking.com) are opposite the awesome sunny bay.
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Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Madeira provides many spectacular Levada hikes, but this one is the most adventurous one and absolutely refreshing in the summer.