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.

The trail follows S. Lourenço Point, the eastern-most peninsula of Madeira island, named after the caravel sailed by João Gonçalves de Zarco, one of the three discoverers of Madeira island, who on coming near this piece of land shouted to his ship “São Lourenço, that’s enough!”. This peninsula is volcanic in origin, and is mainly made of basalt, although there are also some limestone sediment formations. At the end of the Point there are two islets: the Cevada, Metade or Desembarcadouros Islet, and the S. Lourenço Point, Farol or For a Islet. The stone partition marks where the Regional government’s land begins, and is part of the Madeira Natural Park. The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve and the Desembarcadouro Islet is a total natural reserve. All the land and sea by the North coast, up to a depth of 50m, is part of the European network of important community sites - Natura 2000.

The semi-arid climate and its exposure to North winds have sculpted the low vegetation and explain the lack of trees, which distinguish this area from the rest of the Island and is a veritable natural heritage. Here you can see the Island’s basal plate at its best and several rare and endemic plants. Of the 138 species of plant identified on the peninsula, 31 are endemic (exclusive) to Madeira island. In terms of fauna there is one of the largest colonies of seagull (Larus cachinnans atlantis) in the region, which nests on the Desembarcadouro islet.

Along the route you can often see several bird species such as the Berthelot’s Pipit (Anthus berthelotti madeirensis), the Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis parva), the Common Canary (Serinus canaria canaria), and the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis). Protected marine birds also nest here such as Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea borealis), the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro), Bulwer’s Petrel, (Bulweria bulwerii), and the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). The Madeiran lizard (Lacerta dugesii), which is the island’s only reptile, is very common here. Another interesting aspect of this area is the high number of endemic land molluscs (24), commonly known as snails.

In the sea, you may be lucky enough to spot the world’s rarest seal, known in Madeira as a Sea-wolf (Monachus monachus).

At the end of the trail, you can dive in the Sardinha port, named after the old owners.

The Sardinha house is the base for a group of Rangers who work for the Madeira natural park, and who are responsible for watching over the area.

On the horizon to the South you can see Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and to the North the Porto Santo Islands.

This route links the settlement of Ribeira da Janela and the forested area above it, running at elevations between 820 and 400 metres. It begins at regional highway 209, in the area of Curral Falso, and ends at the same highway in the settlement of Ribeira da Janela.

This path follows the remnants of an old footpath used by the inhabitants to bring wood from the forest, which was essential for their daily lives. It was also the path used by the inhabitants to connect them with settlements on the south side of the island, mainly Calheta and Ponta do Sol. Robust young men climbed the mountain slopes, their backs laden with barrels or goatskins filled with wine to be sold and/or traded for other goods.

At Ribeira da Janela you can come in contact with this traditional and unique agricultural area with its typical terraced farm plots, held in place by laboriously built stone walls, where sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans, maize and the indispensable vineyards of Ribeira da Janela are cultivated.

The houses are scattered among the terraces, from the mouth of the stream to an elevation of 400 metres, with the church located halfway up the slope. The settlement’s name, Ribeira da Janela, comes from the name of Madeira´s longest waterway, which runs about 15.7 km.

This is a good location for seeing the Madeira long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz), an endemic bird exclusive to Madeira. During the migratory seasons, some migrating bird species may be seen in the mouth of Ribeira da Janela as they pass through: the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the purple heron (Ardea purpurea), and mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos).

This trail connects with PR 14 –Cedros Levada and PR 13 – Fanal Footpath, both of which lead to the area of Fanal.

The trail that follows alongside the Levada do Rei begins at the Water Treatment Plant at Quebradas in São Jorge, ending at the source of the levada in the spectacular Ribeiro Bonito stream.

The first part of the trail crosses a forested area where some specimens of indigenous vegetation are found here and there. This initial leg of the trail presents travellers with beautiful panoramic views of the São Jorge and Santana farmlands. After the midway point of the trail, the levada that winds from the interior of the island along the mountain slopes passes through a spectacular area of native forest which is well developed and rich in natural biodiversity.

The tunnels formed by the luxuriant vegetation and the great variety of species that you can find here are excellent living examples of the potential of nature, while the beautiful levada is evidence of the valuable cultural heritage of the island.

The path ends at Ribeiro Bonito, where you are aware of feeling you are in a true sanctuary of nature. This is one of the areas of the Laurisilva forest – World Nature Heritage of UNESCO since 1999, where the genuinely Madeiran vegetation reaches its highest expression and its location and isolation leave one with the sensation of having gone back in time to the discovery of the island.

The permanent presence of clear water in this location intensifies the abundant life forms here and allows a great diversity of species to thrive. You can take delight in the majestic centenary Madeira laurels (Ocotea foetens), the laurel trees (Laurus azorica), the Madeira mahogany (Persea indica), and in the tiny birds like the firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus maderensis), and the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis), species that bring vitality to this ecosystem and please the ear with their songs.

Be sure to visit the São Jorge water mill (moínho), which is about three hundred years old. This mill is a good example of preservation, and powered by the water from the Levada do Rei, it grinds wheat, maize, barley and rye grown on the terraces of São Jorge.