The Levada do Plaino Velho hike on Madeira takes you from Estanquinhos to the stunning viewpoint of Pico Ruivo do Paul da Serra. After the viewpoint, you head down into the Laurissilva Forest along the levada to reach the incredible Riberia do Inferno waterfall and tunnel passageways. The hike loops back up the steep climb to Estanquinhos for a short but incredible hiking route in the center of Madeira Island.
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY IN MADEIRA
- Ultimate Luxury: Les Suites at Cliff Bay best location and view
- Best Value: Hotel Alto Lido – Funchal rooftop swimming pool under 100 Euros
- Budget Hostel in Funchal: Santa Maria Hostel is easily the top hostel in Funchal
LEVADA DO PLAINO VELHO WATERFALL HIKE DETAILS
- Hike Distance: The total distance of my hike was 8.6 kilometers.
- Hike Duration: The hike duration was 3.5 hours but the total hiking/moving time was just 2.5 hours.
- Hike Difficulty: This hike is quite short but it is very steep on the return section. There are some tunnels to pass through where you will need a light. There are a few moments of exposure along the levada where you will need to take care but overall no moments of danger. It’s a moderately difficult hike but most experienced hikers will find it mild. It’s not a basic levada walk that is for sure though!
- Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 680 meters.
- My hiking guide: I did this hike with a local guide (also a great friend) called João. He’s lived in Madeira his whole life and knows all of the unique trails (not just the popular ones). This trail requires some local knowledge for the directions so I recommend a guide. Want to contact João to be your guide for this hike or any of the hikes I’ve done on Madeira? You can contact him on Instagram here: João Let’s Hike or by email: [email protected]
- My Strava Map Upload: Levada do Plaino Velho
MY 3 FAVORITE TOURS IN MADEIRA
- Dolphin & Whale Watching: Take a cruise from Funchal to spot Dolphins, Whales and see amazing views of Madeira’s coastline.
- Hike Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo: Hike the most epic trail on the island with a qualified guide!
- Level 1 Canyoning Adventure: Rappel down waterfalls in this high-adrenaline experience.
HOW TO GET TO THE LEVADA DO PLAINO VELHO WATERFALL HIKE
The hike begins at the Parking spot for the Pico Ruivo do Paul viewpoint. Here this is a couple of buildings and a grassy plateau. There is a clear path on the left of the buildings, which shows the start of the hike. I’ve pictured the buildings and the trailhead sign below as well as the pin location of the parking.
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MY EXPERIENCE ON THE LEVADA DO PLAINO VELHO WATERFALL HIKE
The journey begins in Estanquinhos of Paul da Serra. Here a small path leads you away from the buildings and into the wild as you begin the initial climb on Pico Ruivo do Paul da Serra. It’s not to be confused with Pico Ruivo, the highest peak on Madeira.
Through a narrow path in between the sharp bushes, you will wind your way to the top of Pico Ruivo do Paul da Serra to find several incredible viewpoints. A small wooden fence is all that separates you from the view into Sao Vicente and the Ribeira do Inferno. It would be a great sunrise spot and on our day, we were lucky enough to have only a slight cloud cover so we could see throughout the valley.
The hike now heads down towards the valley on a narrow, rocky path. We delved into the Laurissilva Forest on our way to join the Levada do Plaino Velho. The lush forest was hot and humid under the midday sun with little air flowing through. The scenery was green in every direction with hardly any light seeping in.
The trail now follows the wild Levada do Plaino Velho. This isn’t a well-maintained levada route so there’s an occasional landslide or rockpile to deal with as you make your way through this jungle path. There were a number of tunnels to pass on this route, often with entrance walls completely covered in vines and plants, which gave this hike an undiscovered jungle ruins vibe. The tunnels weren’t too long but we did use light inside.
The main attraction along the Levada do Plaino Velho is to reach Ribeira do Inferno waterfalls, which are at the tip of the valley. One final tunnel leads you under the waterfall and you will emerge on the other side to look back at it, which is a pretty unique feature of this hike. There’s a huge wall of vines next to the waterfall and this part of the trail can get wet and wild so be prepared to duck under a few waterfalls if it has been raining a lot.
After descending down initially, we now had to make the climb back up to Paul da Serra. This meant about 600 meters of steep climbing. Without much respite from the incline, we hustled our way back up to a small rocky outcrop where we stopped for lunch and to enjoy the viewpoint before making our way back to Estanquinhos to complete the loop hike.
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Levada do Plaino Velho hike in central Madeira.
WONDERING ABOUT WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA?
Throughout my six months on Madeira Island, I stayed in multiple accommodations. My favorite regions to stay in were Funchal and Canico de Baixo. I’ve created several guides to help you find the right region for you and a great hotel or apartment.
- The ultimate guide: WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA: WHICH REGION IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
- If you want luxury: BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTELS ON MADEIRA ISLAND
- To feel at home: TOP 10 BOUTIQUE HOTELS ON MADEIRA ISLAND
- If you want to base in Funchal: WHERE TO STAY IN FUNCHAL: 15 TOP-RATED HOTELS
HAVE YOU READ MY OTHER MADEIRA BLOGS?
I spent six months exploring Madeira and the nearby island of Porto Santo. These are some of my most popular guides about the region that you may be interested in.
- My favorite hikes: 65 AWESOME HIKES ON MADEIRA
- My favorite levada walks: 25 BEAUTIFUL LEVADA WALKS ON MADEIRA
- The best waterfalls on the island: 25 EPIC WATERFALLS ON MADEIRA
- Guide to the best Accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA
- Hardest hike: THE MADEIRA ISLAND ULTRA TRAIL IN 4 DAYS (115KM)
- Longest hike: CAMINHO REAL 23: MADEIRA’S ROYAL PATH (180KM)