Every Wednesday, we offer the Levada walk from Ribeiro Frio to Portela.
It is a well known Levada walk, and due to its location, very popular for walkers. After a short visit to Madeira’s Trout Farm and knitting stalls entering we the Laurisilva Forest of Madeira (UNESCO World heritage since 1999, covering 149.5km2 of Madeira).
During the walk you see all the Laurisilva vegetation with beautiful views into the valley located on the North side of Madeira (Porto da Cruz), and if you look into the Levada you might even see “baby” Trout’s.
Other than its popularity, it is also the most dangerous walk.
By studying the walking guide books, this walk is classified as easy or medium (even the local authorities are given this walk a grade: 2). However, most casualties are taking place on this walk (from cuts, brushes to broken bones)!
We have been investing some time to understand why so many accidents are taken place on this particular walk.
As this walk is one of the only Levada locations (in the Laurisilva Forest) were you can travel to/ from by local transport, a lot of walkers are walking on their own and follow the instructions what is written in a book. Unfortunately, the dangers are NOT written down, such as: vertigo, slippery slopes and wet/humid conditions. What crucial is, is that due to a landslide a half year ago, the walking path is diverted. This diversion is not clearly marked, and most walkers are following the instruction from the documentation. This old path (over the landslide) that the walkers are following is extremely dangerous, with steep drops (Vertigo). At the end of the walk, the path is going downhill with the Levada in the middle. With even the slightest bit of rain, the Levada overflows what turns the path into mud and makes the path extremely slippery.
The combination of weather conditions and the lack of knowledge turn this Levada walk into Madeira dangerous walk.
Therefore I strongly recommend that if you want to do this walk, you do this with a qualified guide. If you insist that you want to do this on your own, please seek advice from the local authorities and check the weather conditions.