Levadas e veredas, um modo de conhecer a Madeira, para todo o viandante que aprecia o repouso e o contacto directo com a natureza, frequentemente quase intocada desde os primórdios do povoamento.
This trail begins at Ginjas in the municipality of São Vicente and follows the walkway beside the Fajã do Rodrigues levada or the Fajã da Ama Levada, the two names by which it is known, ending at the source of the levada in Ribeira do Inferno.
This levada lies at an elevation of 580 metres and has its source in the bed of the Ribeira do Inferno stream, which separates the lands of Seixal from those of São Vicente and winds across ridges and through small valleys up to Rosário, to be used for the irrigation of the farm fields of São Vicente.
The exotic forest which you encounter at the beginning of the trail, with maritime pines (Pinus pinaster) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), precedes the dense vegetation characteristic of the native forest the Laurisilva, World Nature Heritage of UNESCO since December 1999.
Waterfalls and frequent streams guarantee vitality to the species such as the Canary willow (Salix canariensis), as well as the large Madeira laurel (Ocotea foetens), Madeira mahogany (Persea indica), and the Lily-of-the-Valley tree (Clethra arborea) that abound along the levada. Youll also notice the flowering species, such as geraniums (Geranium palmatum), Mandons Chrysanthemum (Argyranthemum pinnatifidum), Madeiran orchid (Dactylorhiza foliosa), and Canary buttercup (Ranunculus cortusifolius), easily recognised by their bright yellow flowers.
Tunnels are common along this levada, and as you pass between the many, long tunnels, you will have a chance to appreciate the beautiful panoramic views of the São Vicente Valley landscape.
You may catch sight of some of the birds that inhabit the areas that border this trail, from chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs maderensis), to the tiny birds such as the firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus maderensis), which give life to this ecosystem and please the ear with their songs.
Let yourself be enthralled by the scenery that surrounds you, as you wonder at the valleys that drop down to the bed of the stream and catch your breath for the return trip.
Beginning at the regional highway E.R. 110 on the way up to Paúl da Serra from Encumeada, this trail leads to the areas of Bica da Cana, Casa do Caramujo and Folhadal, coming to an end at regional highway E.R. 228 at the Encumeada junction.
This path follows the levadas of Serra and Norte, between the elevations of 1000 and 1600 metres, crossing an excellent area of native high-altitude vegetation, as well as the native Laurisilva forest, an area that is part of the Natura 2000 Network.
Along the way, you will encounter magnificent views of the São Vicente Valley, as well as examples of the islands architecture and heritage, as is the case of a municipal path a section of a public pathway used by the islanders in travelling between the north and south sides of the island paved with stone; the levadas and tunnels carved out of the rock that were built to carry the water from the north to the south side of the island.
The route runs along the levada, although in some places you leave it to follow the stone pathway. When you reach the top of the footpath at Pináculo, you will have a view of the magnificent landscape of the Ribeira Brava Valley in the background and the Central Mountain Range, where the islands two highest peaks stand out, Pico do Areeiro (1817m) and Pico Ruivo (1861m).
Surround this levada is a vegetation rich in small endemic plants which are at the height of their beauty in the spring months: Madeiran orchids (Dactylorhiza foliosa), Canary buttercups (Ranunculus cortusifolius), easily recognised by their bright yellow flowers, Mandon´s chrysanthemum (Argyranthemum pinnatifidum), and geraniums (Geranium palmatum).
You will reach a point where the levada you have followed from the start divides into two branches. Follow the walkway at the side of the Levada do Norte, which is used to power the hydroelectric generating plant at Serra d´Água.
Cascades and tunnels are found all along this route and when you come out of the last tunnel, you reach Folhadal, a name referring to the abundance of Lily-of-the-valley trees (Port., folhados) (Clethra arborea) found here.
At Encumeada you can take PR 1.3 Encumeada Footpath, which leads to Pico Ruivo.
This trail begins at the Queimadas Forestry Park and winds along the walkway of the levada of Caldeirão Verde at 990 m elevation, in the municipality of Santana.
The levada of Caldeirão Verde is an impressive work of art built in the 18th century that begins in the main stream bed of the Caldeirão Verde brook. Passing through steep cliffs and mountains, it carries the water that runs off the highest mountains of Madeira, to be used to irrigate the farm lands of the parish of Faial.
This levada is used for agricultural purposes, but it is also an important means of reaching the interior of the deep valley of the São Jorge brook on foot, offering the traveler a vertiginous and spectacular view of the mountainous terrain of the interior of the island and the opportunity to walk through tunnels carved by hand out of the rock.
At the Queimadas Forestry Park there is a shelter (Casa de Abrigo das Queimadas), which retains the original features of the typical houses of Santana, including a marvelous thatched roof.
Worthy of mention are the excellent specimens of elegant Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica), European beech (Fagus sylvatica) with their dense reddish foliage, Canary Island junipers (Juniperus cedrus), Madeira laurel (Ocotea foetens), Pau branco or southern olive (Picconia excelsa), hundred-year-old broom heath (Erica scoparia) as well as some specimens of lily-of-the-valley tree (Clethra arborea), and Madeira blueberry (Vaccinium padifolium), which can be seen along the trail.
Species of indigenous avifauna that can be seen include the chaffinch (Frigila coelebs), the firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis), the Madeira long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz trocaz), grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea schmitzi), and the buzzard (Buteo buteo harteti).
Close to the Queimadas Park one can see off to the side a small settlement called Achada do Marques, a site that has been designated as Protected landscape, noted for its traditional farm terraces and old stone cow huts.
After you pass through the 4 tunnels on the route, Caldeirão Verde appears on the left of the levada and one has only to climb a few metres along the stream bed to reach it.
The Caldeirão Verde lake is formed by water that falls from the bed of the Caldeirão Verde stream bed from a height of approximately 100m.
Indulge yourself and revel in the surrounding scenery and catch your breath for the return trip.