Map of Levadas of Madeira IslandLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
The levadas of Madeira island are a system of channels and aqueducs collecting waters from the mountains and bringing them down to the coastal areas, for irrigation of lands or hydroelectric plants.
Levadas are widespread around the island. They pass through forests (notably the Laurisilva Forest on the WHL), going hillside, hanging on almost vertical cliffs or going through tunnels. Building them was an engineering achievment, Madeirans are very proud of. This project can be compared with the “Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman”. For me, it clearly has an OUV.
Many hiking trails follow the course of the levadas. A practical guide is published by Rother Wanderfuhrer, available in German , English and French (rother.de).
A presentation of this project, in portuguese but with some nice picture is avaiblable on the following link : (http://www.ppa.pt/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/1.-Miguel-Sequeira.pdf)
I visited Madeira a few years ago. Walking along the levadas is one of the most rewarding experience on this island. Choose carefully the levada you going to visit, especially if you fear heights, as some are litterally hanging on cliffs, and you get to walk on a 50 cm large stone wall above the abyss without any guardrails.
I recommend the upper part of the Levada do Norte, as one of the most impressive levada (but be extremely careful however, as a british women died after falling from the trail in november 2016), or the Ribeira de Janela, going in a valley deep in the Laurisliva WHS forest. A quieter levada (also in the Laurisilva WHS) would be Levada do Furado.
Getting to trailhead is easier with a rental car, but can also be reached by public transport.