Levada 25 Fontes Hiking Trail
Definitely one of the most known and popular hiking trails on Madeira is a trail called Levada 25 Fontes. It is considered a must-visit place if you travel to this island. Levada means an irrigation system that leads water from the mountains down to the areas where people live. There are levadas all over the island. As for 25 Fontes might already sound obvious it means 25 waterfalls and this is the end location on the trail that is the goal to reach.
The trail is located located in the central island of Madeira, more on the western side. On the trailhead, you can find a big parking lot, with cows roaming around and breaking cars. I personally saw, how one cow was between the cars and pushed the mirror backward with a loud crack 😅.
25 Fontes is out and back trail ( 10.1km ). Most of the time the trail is descending from the mountain so hiking there is much easier than coming back. Many people complete the trail in 3 and a half hours. Coordint to the full parking lot, you can already see how popular 25 Fontes is.
The weather at that time was mostly cloudy( we were inside the clouds ), and occasional clearings revealed some great views of the surrounding landscapes.
The first couple of kilometers were walked fully on a paved road. You cant drive this part with your car because the road is fenced off.
At the end of the paved road is a small cafe you can have some replenishments for your hike. It is named Rabaçal Nature Spot Cafe. One cow was roaming there as well. This one didn't seem too friendly, maybe because one horn was lost lol.
From there it was time to get on the forest trails and had quite a bit of stair climbing done.
In the photo below you can see what they call levadas, the irrigation system I talked about at the beginning of the post. Some of these are built hundreds of years ago and still work well. Generally, you can drink from them but it's still advised to rely on your own bottled water. The water is clean but you never know if some animal has died in a Levada upstream.
After a while of hiking, we finally arrived at the 25 Fontes. I have to be honest here, I expected something more amazing since this trail was so hyped. Don't get me wrong, this place was beautiful and it was cool to see still. I just expected something more. I have to consider that I have really high expectations from waterfalls because I have seen many such insane waterfalls in Iceland. So I'm hardly amazed by some smaller streams. For people who rarely see any waterfalls, it can be still an awesome sight to see.
It's called 25 Fontes because there are 25 little streams coming down from the walls. You can also have a swim in there as you can see one is doing in the photo below. Keep in mind that this water is freezing cold.
Expect no calm stay in nature, there are a ton of people. I usually try to take photos in popular locations without people on them as much as possible. This is the reality there on the other side of me.
We had some snacks sitting on the rocks and this bird wanted to get its part too. I guess it's already used to hikers munching there and the bird can et some leftover pieces.
Soon, it was time to start going back and we visited another waterfall that required us to do a short detour. Risco waterfall is one of the highest on the island, falling 100m down from the cliff face.
When I visited Madeira, it was a dry season and the volume of the water was very low, otherwise, these waterfalls will appear larger than they are here on my photos.
Overall it was an enjoyable hike with beautiful views, even if I wasn't that impressed with 25 Fontes itself and the hype behind it. That doesn't mean that you are not either so don't listen to me. You should definitely visit this because it's still unique and a place you don't see everywhere. Coming back to the parking lot was definitely tiring because you have 5 km straight ascending the mountain and climbing stairs.
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We may check this one out in May when we go there 😀
Awesome, enjoy the hike! You will probably see larger water volumes too in May
That’s a good point as the snow melts up in the peaks.
There usually isnt any snow. It just get more rain during the spring time.
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I wonder if the cows ever get really aggressive towards people randomly and if there have been any cases of them attacking tourists 😳
Thats a good question. I dont know the answer but its extremely unlikely for a cow to attack people. When I was little I spent summers in a farm with chows. Never saw an agression towards people.
Good walk 💯 in a nice place 💚.