Levada Ponta Do Pargo trail is a coastal hike on the western side of Madeira Island. It’s an epic route for sunset with incredible views of the sea cliffs and azure blue waters. As well as the coastal scenery, the trail leads you up into the forest as you follow the Levada through the rolling hills, all the time with ocean views.
LEVADA PONTA DO PARGO HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the Ponta Do Pargo hiking trail was 10.5 kilometers for the entire loop but we added an extra 2 kilometers on to the route to check out the Garganta Funda waterfall. It’s not part of the official loop but while you are in the area you may as well visit the waterfall although it was dry when we visited due to no rain in the summer.
Hike Duration: The hike can be completed in about three hours if you hike at a consistent pace but I would predict 4 hours would be suitable if you stop to enjoy the coastal views at the different viewpoint stations along the route.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is quite basic with no danger or drop-offs but there is some decent incline of 400-500m throughout the trail so this will test out your fitness. I can recommend this trail for children and families only if they are comfortable with the distance and incline details listed but other than that there is no reason why it should be too difficult.
Hike Incline: Total incline for my hike was 504m for the circular route. However, 110m of that incline was due to the extra 2-kilometer detour we made to the Garganta Funda waterfall so you could get away with around 400m of incline if you bypass the waterfall.
My Strava Map Upload for Ponta Do Pargo: View my map
HOW TO GET TO THE LEVADA PONTA DO PARGO HIKE
The Levada Ponta Do Pargo Hike is located on the western side of Madeira Island. The trailhead is 53km away from Funchal, which takes exactly an hour if you drive via the VR1 and VE3 highways. I was staying in Calheta when I did this hike so it was just a 20-minute drive for me. The trailhead is conveniently marked on Google Maps, although there wasn’t really a place to park near the trailhead so we parked closer down to Garganta Funda Waterfall and incorporated that into the start of our hike. I’ve added the map with the pin location below of the trailhead.
It’s important to know that for this route you should search in Google Maps for ‘Pedregal Ponta Do Pargo’ and not ‘Levada Ponta Do Pargo’. They will give you slightly different starting points. I was using the official trail on the Madeira app for Pedregal Ponta Do Pargo, which also follows the Levada throughout the hike. I believe the ‘Levada Ponta Do Pargo’ is another hike that doesn’t loop you along the coast, which would be a bit less interesting in my opinion. Both hikes use the same trail at some points. I’ve also added an image of the trailhead below. You can see a steep, cobblestone road to the right of the sign, which is where you need to begin the trail. Yes, it is a very steep introduction to the trail as you head straight up 200m to begin the hike.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE LEVADA PONTA DO PARGO HIKE
After a short drive from Calheta, we arrived at the trailhead for the hike but couldn’t find a place to park, so we headed around the corner closer to the Garganta Funda waterfall and parked nearby. We decided to visit the waterfall despite it not being on the route because how can you turn down a waterfall.
It was a 1-kilometer downhill adventure to the waterfall, which turned out to be dry as a bone after a long, hot summer. After solid rains, it’s an incredible 140-meter cascade into a narrow chasm that eventually flows out to the ocean. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t quite so impressive but the coastal views from the waterfall viewpoint were not a bad consolation. The blues of the shallow water are so vivid here in Madeira and contrast starkly against the dry rock walls of the gargantuan sea-cliffs, which tower above the ocean. If you look around the corner you can also get a glimpse of the Ponta Do Pargo Lighthouse.
After our little detour to the waterfall/coastal viewpoint, we headed back up the steep hill to start the official trail. By the time we reached the actual trailhead, we had already collected 120-meters of incline and an extra two kilometers of distance. We had well and truly warmed up and were ready to enjoy the Levada Ponta Do Pargo hike.
The early section of the trail follows a very steep service road and is a bit boring but it is just leading you up to the Levada, which you will follow through the forest for 5-kilometers of lush, green scenery.
This trail starts off a little underwhelming but as the trail goes on, it becomes more and more impressive along the Levada and towards the coast in the later sections. Don’t be concerned early as the hike get’s better as it goes. There are a few signs here and there but having the online map helped a lot to stay on course with lots of interconnecting trails and alternate service roads attaching to the trail.
The beauty of this trail is that if you stop and observe, there are so many natural beauties to admire. From the hundreds of small skinks to the wildflowers blooming alongside the trail. However, be careful not to get to enchanted by what you see at eye-level as this is a great region for bird spotting. I was lucky enough to spot a Madeira Buzzard, which is known locally as ‘Manta’ and is an endemic bird to the Madeira Archipelago. This bird of prey can have a wingspan of 115cm to 135cm and can often be seen circling above the forest looking for prey.
After 5-kilometers alongside the Levada, the trail spits you out onto a steep road, which you are thankfully walking downhill not up the harsh slope. This road leads you down to the church viewpoint, where you can have a great view looking directly down the coast in both directions. The cliffs glow red with the late sun beaming onto their giant, 300-meter high walls.
This was a great place to fly the drone and check out how the western wall of Madeira looks from far out to sea. I ended up flying the drone several kilometers away to try and capture a panorama of the entire western side of the island as the sunset glow lit up the walls.
As I mentioned earlier, the important part of doing this hike is to head out in the late afternoon and then catch the sunset. Because you are on the western side of the island, the sun will set over the ocean and you can enjoy the relaxing glow and colorful sky while at one of the viewpoints on the coastal section of this trail. We were lucky enough to have a relatively clear day, although I believe on this side of the island a clear day is quite normal unlike the other parts of the island of Madeira, which can be notoriously cloudy.
After the two viewpoints on the coastal section of the trail, you wind through a small village on your way back to the starting point. We enjoyed the last light of the day and didn’t need a headlamp before reaching the point where we parked the car while the sunset was still glowing with a deep purple and fiery orange on the horizon.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM PONTA DO PARGO HIKE IN MADEIRA
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike, or the beach. Adventure hard!
Tag your Adventure Bag on Instagram and mention @adventurebagcrew in your Instagram stories and we will repost your Adventure Bag photo to help inspire your friends, family, and followers to join the movement!
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Levada Ponta Do Pargo hike on Madeira Island.