The levadas are irrigation channels specific of the island of Madeira. The levadas originated out of the necessity of bringing large amounts of water from the west and northwest of the island to the southeast, which is drier but also better for agriculture and living. Levadas were also used to wash clothes in areas without running water available.
Madeira has 2,170 km of levadas which are also a network of nice walking paths through its beautiful countryside. During my trip to Madeira I followed few of them, being Levada da Ribeira da Janela one of my favorite ones.
This is a nice hike at only few km away from Porto Moniz and it is special because it takes hikers to discover the most wild places in the primary forest. La Levada da Ribeira de Janela was built in 1960 to feed the hydroelectric plant in Porto Moniz. It took 5 years for its construction because the topography was difficult and weather conditions were very bad at that time.
The walking path follows the levada along its 25km, passing by small waterfalls and through a laurisilva forest. I found this hike very relaxing because I was walking all the time with the sound of the water running. I also had the opportunity to see different endemic birds and plants.
Because of the rugged topography to its final destination, the levada crosses the mountains through long tunnels (bring your headlamp) and many of them are plenty of water so you have 99% of chances to get your feet very, very wet. Having your stuff protected against water and second pair of sockets is not a bad idea at all. Be careful because tunnels are also very slippery! Having all these tips in mind, in the end it is a funny walk.
The starting point is next to the Porto Moniz’s Hydroelectric plant. There is no public transportation to get here but you can go it by taxi, it is not expensive at all.