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Madeira 4 - Levada do Furado Hike

Updated: Mar 13

This Levada do Furado hike in Madeira leads from Ribeiro Frio to Portela along the typical water channels through the island's dense cloud forest.

Furado actually means “pierced” - and many tunnels were actually supposed to be built along this water channel. However, the stone was so brittle that the workers gave up after a few breakthroughs. But who wants to go through a tunnel when instead you can enjoy such a view (partially) on the island of Madeira and - in any case – a wonderful hike along the Levada do Furado through a thick, ancient laurel forest?

Madeira Levada do Furado Hike water channel

SHORT INFO Madeira: Levada do Furado Hike

-Factor: ♡♡♡♡

Start: Ribeiro Frio 860m

End: Portela 605m

Length: 12 km

Approximate walking time: 2:46 hours - without breaks

Altitude meters: 60 up, 290 down

Requirement: Easy to medium

Tip: Like many hikes in Madeira, this tour is not a circular route. Those who have not organized a pick-up can walk up to Casa de Agua and turn around there, which increases the travel time to approx. 5 hours.

Map: I have saved the route and GPS Data in Outdooractive.

Refreshments:There is a restaurant in Ribeiro Frio and two bars in Portela.

Hiking guide book: Rother hiking guide "Madeira - The most beautiful levada and mountain hikes" 2020

Hiking guides: Madeira Adventure Kingdom and Madeira Experience Tours both offer guided walks.

We did this walking tour with Madeira Adventure Kingdom.

You can find tips for accommodations in my blog Madeira 1 - What to do in Madeira?

Click on the photo to see it bigger.

On a discovery tour in the famaous Laurisilva of Madeira!

Who can say they went on a hike with Romeo & Juliet?
I can! Well, almost …

Our super-friendly hiking guide from Madeira Adventure Kingdom is actually called Liliana Gomcalves. But somehow my language control isn’t working that well on our hike.

Dense ferns, ancient laurel trees, waterfalls, lichen hanging from trees, trusting chaffinches

Out of sheer enthusiasm about the dense ferns, ancient laurel trees, waterfalls, lichen hanging from trees, trusting chaffinches, moss-covered stones, rushing water, adventurous tunnels and viewpoints, I’m always saying “Oh Juliana, can you come back again for one more picture?“. Slightly annoyed and embarrassed, my friend two or three times whispers in my ear that her name is Liliana, not Juliana … but eventually they both give up and call themselves Romeo & Juliet! Perfect for me, no more concentration on names and my friend looks - for a change - happy in the photos.

2000 km of water canals were built between 1436 and 1966 in Madeira.

How many people lost their lives in this breakneck undertaking is not documented, but the levadas still work today:

The levadas transport rainwater from the mountains and the north side of the island to the drier South.

They also serve as a perfectly laid out network of paths for hikers. Some are extremely exposed, but the easily accessible ones have now been expanded to make them safe for walking.

Liliana tells us that only the Levadeiro has a key to open the respective locks, which are blocks to guide the water along the different channels. Private individuals also receive water this way once a week. "My grandmother was lucky - her water comes at 9 o'clock in the morning, but there are also people who get it at 5 in the afternoon, with all the ensuing preparation!". Kind of cool that this centuries-old system is still working.

Poncha is Madeiras typical drinkl
How do you become a hiking guide in Madeira?

we ask her. Liliana laughs - and when she laughs, her whole face breaks into a radiant smile. "Oh, actually I studied psychology, but there weren't any jobs on the island and I didn't want to go to the mainland." The training lasts 9 months and besides knowledge of flora and fauna your physical fitness and endurance need to be excellent. There is a distance race in Madeira, last year Liliana ran the 85km in 23 hours. Just thinking about running through the night makes me tired. ...

But Liliana is not a sports animal devoured by ambition. Her solution to all problems is: Poncha!


Poncha is THE traditional alcoholic drink from Madeira, made with aguardente de cana (distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juice), honey, sugar, and either orange juice or lemon juice.

“Once on a multi-day hike, I had a couple who argued all the time. On the second evening I ordered a lot of Poncha and after that they were more relaxed! "

In Portela, the end of our hike, she orders us a poncha ... that gives us a moment to think about ...

 You can read more blog bosts about Madeira HERE 

Madeira - Hike along coastal cliffs through the Boca do Risco

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