Levada do Caldeirão Verde

Although this an officially-recommended walk (PR9) and ticks many of the boxes for a great levada walk with stunning views, tunnels and waterfalls, it nearly didn't make it into these pages. One reason is that there is no real access by public transport and the other is that it requires walking out and back along the same route - it's pretty much a dead end (though the route does intersect PR1.1 from Ilha to Pico Ruivo), though a spectacular one!

However, in addition to organised tours, a private company is now offering scheduled transfers and the walk is undoubtedly very popular, so here it is!

Construction of what was originally known as the Levada da Serra de São Jorge began in 1877 to provide an alternative source of water to Santana and Faial as the originals - the Ribeira da Metade and Ribeira Seca - were to be diverted into the new Levada da Serra do Faial. Construction did not finish until 1904. In 1938, a branch to the village of Ilha was added - which now forms part of PR1.1.

The walk begins at the Queimadas Forest Park and for most people ends at a spectacular waterfall which plunges from 100m above into an amazing green lagoon (the Caldeirão Verde) approximately 6.5km from the starting point. There are four tunnels on the route (you'll need a torch and some head protection) but it is reasonably level. 

Beyond the Caldeirão Verde, there is a path (currently closed) that leads to the Caldeirão do Inferno (a further 2.5km), via a series of waterfalls and, towards the end, a very long staircase up a steep incline. Most people skip this part of the route even when the path is open as it's very demanding. 

Queimadas Visitor Centre

The Queimadas Visitor Centre has a large car park (payment required), toilets (presently chemical but a new block is under construction) and a traditional thatched house that was built at the start of the 20th Century as a shelter for workers and travellers. There's a small café and picnic tables are available. A number of walks are available including the Caminho Para Todos (Walk for Everyone) which is designed to be a flat, accessible walk of around 2km that follows the Levada do Caldeirão Verde in the opposite direction to that described here, towards the Pico das Pedras in Santana. You can see some of the trails by enlarging the map below.

Queimadas Trail Map
© OpenStreetMap contributors

The route towards the Caldeirão Verde is definitely not accessible and is narrow in many places making it difficult for people to pass. The sheer drops (of which there are many) are fenced. 

Views from the Levada do Caldeirão Verde

The levada offers long views from various points and you'll encounter quite a lot of water apart from that in the levada itself.

Long view of distant town

Along the route you'll encounter four tunnels, a couple of which are fairly long, so torches are required and, preferably, some sort of head protection as there are some places where the headroom drops suddenly. 

There is likely to be a fair bit of water underfoot in the tunnels which may be sufficient to cover your shoes in places, though you may be able to pick your way carefully round the edges of the puddles.

Levada Tunnels

Around 4.5km from Queimadas (and 2km from the Caldeirão Verde), by a tunnel mouth, the trail intersects walking route PR1.1 from Ilha to Pico Ruivo (in which direction it is a steep and constant climb). After a total of about 2 hours walking you will reach the destination - the 100m waterfall plunging into a small, but very green - and very cold - pool.

Caldeirão Verde Waterfall

The walk is very popular and you can expect a small (or sometimes large) crowd admiring the view.

Warning Sign
Closed Path

Access to the lagoon area itself is (April 2024), technically, forbidden to the public owing to the danger of rockfalls. There is a warning notice before you arrive at the lagoon itself and the photos here were taken without entering the danger zone. However, the warning remains unheeded by most of the people who visit. 

The extension of the path towards the Caldeirão do Inferno has been closed rather more definitively. At present, your only option is to return the way you came.

Getting There

You can find the location of the car park on Google Maps here. A number of Madeira's tour companies offer guided tours. The nearest public transport goes to Santana (HF interurban buses 56, 103 or 138), but from where you'd have to find a taxi to complete your journey. Recently, the company Pico Transfers has started to offer a door-to-door transfer service twice a week (Monday and Thursday) from addresses in Funchal and Caniço and a few other locations.