When Is the Best Time
This is an adventurous and demanding Levada day hike passing 11 tunnels and lots of waterfalls. The return hike takes roughly six hours included is 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 IMO. It took me 1.30 hours one way, and it was worth the long drive.
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 in length. 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 to October when Madeira experiences a small amount of precipitation. For summer, start early to beat the crowds and avoid weekends.
Do you like to know more about Madeira, the climate, hiking trails, Instagram spots, food specialities? Check out my new Madeira Guide with tips for an excellent stay on this breathtaking island of Portugal.
My Top Accommodation Tip
The north of Madeira is wilder, lush green, with breathtaking rugged coastline and cliffs similar to Kauai in Hawaii, 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 the Ruins of Sao Jorge. The ruins are one of my seven must-see and 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. If you like to stay at Hotel Quinta Do Furao a rental car is needed.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
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 built this Levada start of the construction work in 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 are a wonderful excursion.
The beginning of the Levada hike is a well-maintained wide path. It is an excellent forest to stroll 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; there is just one part 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, and a stairway is leading down to the first waterfall. In former times you could walk through the waterfall. Nowadays, you cross a bridge and watch the amazing fall tumbling down into a pool.
Now a staircase is leading up to approach the same elevation from before. Sometimes you must walk on the Levada wall to continue the hike. The first tunnel appears 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 to walk 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 rather less. I am 1.62 m high and, on the way, back I bumped my head heavily. So, walk carefully 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 awesome views out to 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 any longer far to get to the spectacular 110 m high Caldereio Verde waterfall (picture below, the waterfall is too huge to add in my article).
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 shade. A bath in the lagoon is prohibited. Either you walk the same way back, or you continue and explore more of this outstanding piece of nature in Madeira.
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 amazing waterfall. This part got destroyed by a landslide.
When you reach the steepest and longest staircases of 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 is leading 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 you get a little wet before entering this short tunnel, and soon the next long one appears.
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 left the tunnel. The hinterland is beautifully grown like a jungle soon after you access the next tunnel.
This is a dark and straightforward tunnel 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 of course, 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 also spectacular on the return hike.
Spoil yourself at the cafe and restaurant and enjoy a cold beverage before you are heading back 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, 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 wet inside the tunnels
- Most of the track is in shade, but for some parts, sun protection is needed
- A waterproof bag or backpack because of the high amount of water from everywhere.
- Proper hiking shoes
Do 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.