Now that I’ve made a small guide to the wonderful city of Funchal, I can now venture into the center of the Island of Madeira and explore it’s vast natural beauty, mostly in form of lush green forests and mountains, and there is no better way to hike around these amazing habitats, than the Levadas. “Levadas” are a most-see attraction in Madeira! Mostly located around the center, they are trails built along time ago to bring drinkable water from the fresh mountain springs to the towns near the ocean. Now they serve as perfect hiking destination for any of those interested in some exploration, and there are a LOT of them!
The first levada I went to is one of the smallest, since I’ve never done one I played it safe. Levada dos Balcões is located near the small town of Ribeiro Frio, which by itself is interesting to visit. Besides being located in the beautiful green valley of the Laurissilva Forest, it also has many entrances to different levadas and a open trout farm, you can visit to see all the different stages in the animal’s life cycle (in some levadas, trouts can be seen swimming in the waterways). Balcões itself is so lovely, even though it’s one of the easiest trails. The day I went was covered in thick mist that did obstruct the view, yet made everything even more magical. It’s really fantastic experience that I recommend to everyone, and instead of telling you about it, I would rather show you.
Even though Balcões is not a very dangerous levada, most of them are as dangerous as they are beautiful. Most are built on cliffs, and many people each year, mostly tourists, fall from the cliffside, some times the falls are deadly. So be cautions, the paths can be tight and slippery. Don’t risk your life for a photo.
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