CALDEIRÃO DO INFERNO WATERFALL HIKE ON MADEIRA

The Caldeirão do Inferno waterfall hike is one of the best levada walks on Madeira island with lush jungles and several amazing waterfalls! This adventurous levada trail is one of the most popular hikes on the island due to its incredible waterfalls, dense jungle surroundings, and most importantly, it’s relatively flat without too much incline. The Caldeirão do Inferno hike is the same as the Caldeirão Verde hike but you continue on for another 2.4-kilometers to reach an incredible canyon and then one final, massive waterfall. I really enjoyed this hike and would highly recommend it, especially for those who enjoy walking but don’t want a huge uphill trek with dangerous conditions.

LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO DO INFERNO HIKE DETAILS

Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 20 kilometers.

Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 5-6 hours, especially if you have a nice lunch break at one of the main waterfalls.

Hike Difficulty: The beauty of this trail, and one of the reasons why it is so popular, is that it has almost no incline for the route from Queimadas to Caldeirão Verde and then just a short incline up the stairs to Cadeirão Inferno. Over the course of 20 kilometers, there are only around 300 meters of incline. So it’s basically pretty flat, which makes it comfortable for most hikers. The trail itself is well-maintained with railing at most parts with a drop-off. However, there have been some instances of rockfall and landslide with injuries involved. Recently there was a landslide/rockfall at the waterfall, which is why it is now ‘fenced off’. Everyone still goes around the fence on a new path so it seems the fence is just for liability but nevertheless it is something to consider. Overall, this hike is great for average hikers, kids, and even bringing the dog would be no issue. There are a few tunnels where you will need a headlamp or phone light.

Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 330 meters.

My Strava Map Upload: Caldeirão do Inferno

HOW TO GET TO THE LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO DO INFERNO HIKE

The Caldeirão do Inferno hike is located on the north/central part of the island of Madeira. You need to drive up and around the center of the island to Queimadas with no good direct route from Funchal. This means it takes a little longer than the other side of the valley such as Pico do Arieiro, which can be accessed directly from Funchal. I’ve added the pin location for the Caldeirão do Inferno hike trailhead below, which takes about 45-minutes to reach from Funchal. There is parking at the hiking trailhead and it is a little less than 1 Euro for parking per hour with a maximum of 3 Euros for your stay.

MY EXPERIENCE ON THE LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO DO INFERNO HIKE

It’s quite a long drive from Funchal to get up to Queimadas, where you will find the parking lot for the Levada do Caldeirão do Inferno hike. You’ll find a cafe, small cottages where you can stay the night, ducks, a lagoon, and picnic areas at the trailhead. There’s a lot going on but it’s a great place to have a coffee and cake before you start the hike and take a moment to relax after the drive up into the mountains. The small but swift Madeira Firecrest birds here were not quite as brave as those at Vereda dos Balcões. Despite my best efforts they refused to eat from my hand and I spent half of my cake trying to lure them over. Good luck taming the local birds.

The trail is a 12-kilometer out-and-back route with several epic waterfalls to visit. The path begins by winding you through some very scenic levada trails, completely surrounded by jungle. The lush greenery is so dense you can barely see more than a few meters before your view is a wall of green. I thought this was one of the most beautiful levada walks on Madeira. I did this hike twice and on one of the days it was raining heavily and we got soaked passing under the waterfalls that cascade onto the trail.

The main waterfall of Caldeirão Verde is at the 6-kilometer mark on the trail, but you don’t have to wait for six kilometers to witness your first waterfall. After a few kilometers, you pass a beautiful waterfall on the side of the trail. It actually looks like the old path, which would have meant getting quite wet but that’s normal for a Madeira trail. There’s actually quite a few waterfalls throughout this trail but the two main ones and the canyon are the major attractions.

The next feature on the Levada do Caldeirão do Inferno hike are the tunnels you will need to pass through. They vary in length and height and require a phone light or headlamp. Make sure to watch your head in the tunnels as the roof can be low in some sections. It’s always an interesting experience in the tunnels but these were only a few hundred meters rather than some of the other tunnels on Madeira that can span for kilometers. There are about nine or ten tunnels in total but I lost count!

After four or five kilometers, the trail emerges from the dense forest to wind out around the cliffside with a huge drop-off on your right-hand side. Don’t fear, a railing keeps you safe the whole way but the views are just beautiful in this section. You can see all the way through the valley and up to the peaks above.

The final steps lead you up to the amphitheater to the Caldeirão Verde waterfall. However, there is a sign saying it is prohibited to enter the arena and get up close to the waterfall. This is because in 2019 there was a rockfall/landslide and 11 people were injured. That’s pretty serious so they closed that section off. It’s a bit strange to keep the hike open but close off the main attraction instead, which you only find out about after six kilometers. Anyhow, there is quite a clear path around the sign that is very well worn. Obviously, everyone is still visiting the waterfall but ‘at their own risk/illegally’. Landslides are no joke and there isn’t much room to hide if rocks start falling in this arena-style canyon area. You’ll have to decide what to do for yourself. As you can see from the photos coming, we followed others past the sign otherwise you can really only get a glimpse of the waterfall.

The Caldeirão Verde waterfall is one of the best on Madeira. It’s got to be around the 100-meter mark and flows down into a perfect, circular lagoon below. Freezing water is only for brave swimmers but it’s a great place to feel like a very small human as you look up to the water as it freefalls from high up on the cliff. I really enjoyed framing a few shots in between the vibrant, green ferns scattered around the arena.

Many hikers turn back at this point and that is the end of the out and back route for the Caldeirão Verde hike. However, it’s time to continue on, across the stream and make the 2.4-kilometer journey to Caldeirão do Inferno to find the second waterfall and the canyon waterfall.

The trail continues alongside the levada but now has a series of steps that gain a couple hundred meters of incline while hugging the side of the cliffs overlooking the valley below. The towering peaks in the distance created a perfect backdrop for the waterfalls that seemed to be flowing in all directions after the heavy rain.

There are two reasons to continue to Caldeirão do Inferno after visiting Caldeirão Verde. The first is to visit the canyon. Here you pass through a tunnel on the side of a huge canyon. After rain, it is full of water and there are waterfalls booming and misty spray blowing in all directions. It’s intense in there. A series of metal bridges guides you safely through this region.

After the canyon, you continue on up the stairs and towards the Caldeirão do Inferno, where you will find the second massive waterfall of the day. On dry days, this one doesn’t have much water flow but we visited after a storm and it was flowing strongly!

The hike back out is exactly the way you came in so you simply retrace your steps back through the tunnels to the parking lot and maybe for a second coffee and cake. No judgment here. I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Caldeirão do Inferno hike on Madeira Island. Happy hiking and stay safe out there!

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