Hiking on Madeira: PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde

The highlight of Madeira is the levada hikes, and PR9 Caldeirão Verde is definitely one of the most beautiful levada hikes on the island. A levada is an irrigation channel, and some were built as early as the sixteenth century. In total, there are over 3000 km of levadas winding along the rugged mountains of Madeira. Levadas carry rainwater from one side of the island to the other because it rains much more in the north than in the south. PR9 Caldeirão Verde takes you through a dense jungle, where you’ll feel like you’re in a South American rainforest. Everywhere you look, there are tropical plants, and you’ll also be treated to beautiful views and waterfalls. Read all our tips below.

The PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike in a nutshell

Distance: 13 km in total (8 miles)
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
Elevation difference: approximately 100 meters (328 feet)
Difficulty: Easy

What does the hike look like?

The trail of the PR9 Caldeirão Verde hike is mostly flat, making it very easy. You walk along the levada on a narrow path. While hiking, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views, but keep your eyes on the path as there are often steep drops, fortunately with a railing. During the hike, you’ll pass through four tunnels. In some of these tunnels, you’ll need to duck here and there to avoid hitting your head. So don’t forget to bring your phone with you, as you can use it as a flashlight.

After about 2 hours of walking, you’ll reach one of the highest waterfalls in Madeira, the Caldeirão Verde waterfall. The water plunges down a staggering 100 meters (328 feet). It’s a lovely spot to take a break and have something to eat or drink. If cold water doesn’t deter you, be sure to bring your swimwear and take a refreshing dip in the icy water. That will certainly replenish your energy for the return journey! After visiting the Caldeirão Verde waterfall, you start the journey back. It’s the same path you took to get there.

Practical tips: There is a paid parking lot at the beginning and endpoint of the hike, where you’ll also find a charming cottage where you can have a cup of coffee and a small snack. When you return, you can pay for parking at the larger cottage next to it. Your exit ticket is valid for 10 minutes, so if you want to have something to drink, it’s better to do it before paying for your exit ticket. There are toilets in the parking lot, and you’ll need $0.60 to open the door.

How to get to PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde?

PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde is a hiking trail in the northern part of Madeira, near the village of Santana, and is about a 45-minute drive from Funchal. There are several ways to reach it.

By rental car: By far the easiest way to reach the starting point of the hike is by rental car. The parking lot is called Queimadas Parking Lot, and you can find its location on Google Maps here. Please note that if you set the route directly to the parking lot, Google Maps may not provide the correct directions for the last part. Therefore, first navigate to Continente Modelo Santana, and from there, Google Maps will give you the correct route to the parking lot.

With a tour: If you don’t have a car, this tour is a great option to do the hike. You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Funchal and taken to the starting point of the hike. You’ll walk with a group and a guide who will teach you all about the nature and Madeira. After the hike, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel. It’s ideal if you don’t have your own transportation!

By public transportation: A slower but cheaper option is to travel by bus. From Funchal, buses depart to the nearby village of Santana. You can take bus lines 56, 103, and 138, and the journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. You’ll see all the details by typing the route into Google Maps and clicking on the public transportation icon. At the bus stop in Santana, there is a taxi stand where you can take a taxi for the final 6 km (3.7 miles) to the starting point of PR9.

Extra tips for the PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike

  • Bring a headlamp/flashlight for the tunnels or make sure your phone has enough battery
  • Bring a rain jacket as it often rains on this side of Madeira
  • Wear sturdy shoes