If someone asks for a specific recommendation in Madeira, I would certainly rate this trail as one of the most impressive, mainly because of the unexpected views that you get after every corner. All in all this trail offers a breathtaking art of nature with waterfalls, lagoons and all the fascinating plant species along the Levada.
The levada of Caldeirão Verde is located in the northern part of Madeira, in the heart of the laurisilva forest, a UNESCO work nature heritage, not far away from the municipality of Santana. It begins at the Queimedas Forestry Park, where you find a shelter (Casa de Abrigo das Queimadas), which has the original feature of the traditional houses of Santana. At an altitude of 870 m it takes (officially) around 5.30 hours for the whole trail of 8,7 km (+ 8,7 km return). If you are more advanced I’m sure you can do one way in 3-4 hours.
The Levada do Caldeirão Verde (also known as PR9) is very well maintained along the aqueduct, which runs the water from the mountains to the villages and farms of the parish of Faial. The water is mostly used for agricultural purposes, but has also an important meaning because it reaches the deep Valley of São Jorge brook on foot, offering a spectacular view of the mountains and many opportunities to walk through hand-craved tunnels.
Along the Levada you can find a wide variety of plant species, some on the list are the excellent specimens of elegant Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica), European beech (Fagus sylvatica) with their dense reddish foliage, Canary Island junipers (Juniperus cedrus), Madeira laurel (Ocotea foetens), Pau branco or southern olive (Picconia excelsa), hundred-year-old broom heath (Erica scoparia) as well as some specimens of lily-of-the-valley tree (Clethra arborea), and Madeira blueberry (Vaccinium padifolium), which can be seen along the trail.
Also species of indigenous avifauna can be seen. These include the chaffinch (Frigila coelebs), the firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis), the Madeira long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz trocaz), grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea schmitzi), and the buzzard (Buteo buteo harteti).
After passing the 4 hand-craved tunnels along the Levada the stunning Caldeirão Verde can be heard at the left side of the trail. If you follow the water (and of course the signs) you will be led to a imposant waterfall, a force of nature from 110 meter.
As you can see in the video, there is also another waterfall, called Caldeirão Inferno. This is also the official end of the PR9-trail, which is about 2 km far away from Caldeirão Verde.
Now some advices for the hike:
- Either you wear almost nothing or you’re fully equipped with rain jackets, trousers etc. As you can see in the video there are several waterfalls along the Levada, and it’s almost impossible to stay dry.
- You definitely need a torch for the tunnels. Some of them are really long and I have seen a lot of hikers struggling around without light.
- I would suggest to take a bath in the lagoon, due to the unpredictable falling stones from over 110 meters. Some meters after the lagoon there are spots with the same water.
- Here you can download the official trail map.