Hiking on Madeira: PR6 25 Fontes & Risco Waterfall

One of the most popular hikes in Madeira is the PR6 25 Fontes & Risco waterfall hike. This easy levada hike takes you to two beautiful waterfalls. There’s an incredibly high waterfall and a wide waterfall with a beautiful pool of greenish-blue water. The trail follows a levada, and along the way, you’ll encounter the most gorgeous tropical plants. If you didn’t know any better, you might think you’re somewhere in Southeast Asia or Central America. Put on your good shoes and let’s go hiking! Read our tips below.

What is a levada hike? Levada hikes are characteristic of Madeira. A levada is an irrigation channel, and in total, there are over 3,000 km (1,864.113 miles) of levadas in Madeira. Some were built as early as the sixteenth century. Levadas wind along the rugged mountains, carrying rainwater from one side of the island to the other because it rains much more in the north than in the south. The levadas form beautiful hiking trails through the mountains.

The PR6 25 Fontes & Risco waterfall hike in a nutshell

You can choose between the long or short route:

Long route:

Distance: 9 km (5.6 miles)
Duration: approximately 3 hours
Elevation difference: 800 meters (2,625 feet)
Difficulty: Easy

Short route:

Distance: 5 km (3.1 miles)
Duration: approximately 2 hours
Elevation difference: 300 meters (984 feet)
Difficulty: Very easy

The long and short route

We mentioned above that there is a long and a short route. You have the option to take a minibus for a part of the route. This part is a paved road of about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) with an elevation difference of 250 meters (820 feet). A minibus operates every 10 minutes, going up and down. A round-trip ticket costs $6, and a one-way ticket costs $3. The minibus runs every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and cash payment is accepted only.

What does the PR6 25 Fontes & Risco waterfall hike look like?

The PR6 25 Fontes & Risco waterfall hike actually consists of two different walks. PR6 is the walk to 25 Fontes, and PR6.1 is the walk to Risco Waterfall. Both walks start from the same point: the parking lot at Rabaçal, so they can be easily combined. To do the PR6.1, you deviate from PR6 for a few hundred feet to reach Risco Waterfall. Then you return to PR6 to continue on to 25 Fontes waterfall. For convenience, we’ll consider them as one hike.

The trail of the PR6 25 Fontes & Risco hike follows a levada and takes you to two beautiful waterfalls that are completely different from each other. Risco Waterfall is a 100-meter (328 feet) high waterfall, and 25 Fontes waterfall is a broad wall with multiple water streams. The wall is covered with ferns and moss, creating a picturesque sight. Along the way to the waterfalls, there are some stairs to climb, but the total elevation difference is only 300 meters (984 feet), so it’s not difficult at all.

The PR6 Fontes & Risco waterfall hike is a popular hike. Especially if you start the hike after 10:00 am, you will encounter many other people. The paths are sometimes so narrow that you have to wait for oncoming hikers to pass, and it’s likely that you’ll end up walking in a line of people. If you prefer to avoid this, we recommend starting the hike before 10:00 am. This way, you can walk at your own pace and enjoy the nature in peace.

How to get to the starting point of the PR6 hike?

From Funchal, it takes about 50 minutes to drive to the starting point of the hike. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation available to this location. The two options to get here are:

With a rental car: The easiest way to reach this hike is by renting a car. There is a large parking lot where you can park your car for free.

Self-guided tour: For this hike, you don’t necessarily need a guide. If you prefer to explore independently but still need transportation, then this self-guided hike is the best option. You will be picked up at your hotel, provided with all the information about the hike, and the driver will be ready to pick you up after the hike. This way, you can maintain your own pace and enjoy the hike at your leisure.

Guided tour: If you don’t have a car, this tour is a great option to experience the hike. Please note that you won’t follow the exact same route as described above, but it will be a slightly more adventurous path. You will walk with a small group and a guide along a different, equally beautiful trail, and eventually reach both waterfalls. Along the way, you will pass through an 2624-feet-longtunnel and encounter more stair climbing than the route described above. The guide will provide you with information about the plants and the surroundings during the tour. After the hike, you will be dropped off at your hotel. It’s an ideal choice if you don’t have your own transportation.

Extra tips for the PR6 25 Fontes & Risco waterfall hike

  • After the paved road, you will find a café called Rabacal Nature Spot Café where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
  • The route is clearly marked with signs, but you can always use the hiking route in the maps.me app as well.
  • Always bring a raincoat when hiking in Madeira and wear sturdy shoes as it can be slippery.