Madeira is well known for its Levadas and the facility it offers for you to use the paths next to these for leisure walking. Lately more and more visitors to Madeira are walking on these routes on their own. Majority of them are using various information they find in so called walking books that they have bought in their home country.
Unfortunately, these books are not regular updated with changes that occur on these paths (i.e. changes due to landslides and maintenance). You must keep in mind that some of these paths are a few decades old, they are going along side ridges, through tunnels and mountains, in the middle of dense forest, under waterfalls … in other words: the path itself is part of the changing nature. Also, in the past, these paths were build to maintain the Levadas water channels and not to be used by tourists in those days. These paths differs with those you have in your home country. There are hardly signs indicating the way. No light posts, no houses, no roads crossing and the next village can still be hours away before you can reach it.
If you decide to walk these paths alone than you will be doing that at your own risk.
Locals here on Madeira they always walk these paths in a group (family, friends, colleagues) and they make it a fun happening of it. Reaching a certain destination where they can have a picnic and have some fun together. This means that in most cases locals do not need to go all the way from start till the finish-line of a certain route. But if they do, then it is also in a group.
There are some travelers that prefer to do a walk on their own and do not see the advantages of a guided walk. If you are one of these DIY (Do It Yourself) walkers, then please take notice of the following safety precautions and walking indications when you are planning to do a Levada walk here on Madeira:
- If this will be the first time that you will doing a Levada walk, then we urge you do that in company of a qualified guide;
- If you do not have enough walking skills or never done a walk for more than 1 hour, then we suggest you bot to do a long walk, but an easy walk of less than an hour duration;
- Never walk a Levada or other isolated route outside the suburbs alone;
- It is important that you prepare yourself and collect all the updated information about the route you are planning to do;
- Keep in mind that the majority of the Levadas and other walking paths do not have a proper signs indicating the way;
- Calculate the total time you will be spending on that route (so that estimate the right time to start and finish the walk before nightfall sets in);
- Always inform the hotel where your staying or any other reliable person about the route that you planning to do and the expected time of arrival. Write it down on a piece of paper. This is a small effort, but valuable;
- Do not change the course of your planned route;
- Always take something to eat and drink (such as canned fruit juices, chocolate, dried fruits etc.);
- Take extra plastic bags to put in the leftovers or rubbish when you do a stop to eat/drink;
- Important that you always carry an electric torch with spare batteries;
- Take your own mobile phone (fully charged), even if your operating network does not exist here. You can always call the emergency number 112 and it will search for an alternative net;
- If your mobile phone works here on Madeira, then program the telephone number of the accommodation you are staying. Make sure that the number is working;
- In case of a interruption during a course (falling rocks, heavy rain or strong winds) go back to the starting point following same route;
- By all means do not take risks;
- Take a whistle with you and wear suitable clothes and walking boots/shoes with good grip. Even if it is warm and dry, take something against getting wet (due to moist, damp or waterfalls);
- In case of any accident call immediately 112 and if you cannot get through, walk on the same course and keep trying again until you get a connection;
- Stay calm and inform what, when and where the accident has happened, also the number of people involved and the status of the victims;
- The more information you can transmit, the better and more efficient help will be provided.
Important phone numbers (program these into your mobile phone):
Madeira Civil Protection – (+351) 291 700 112
Emergency Number – 112
The precautions mentioned above must be considered as a ‘must’ for both experienced and inexperienced walkers.
Always consider your options when you are walking here on Madeira Island.