The Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike is an off-the-beaten-path adventure through the jungle to explore several incredible waterfalls. If you choose, there is an extended route option to the Rocha dos Pombos viewpoint, which looks down over the town of Ponta Delgada. On my hike, I also combined the trek with a visit to Caldeira de São João, another massive waterfall. In this blog post, I will guide you through the options and what to expect when you visit the Poço das Pulgas waterfall.
POÇO DAS PULGAS WATERFALL HIKE DETAILS
These details are from my hike, which included Rocha dos Pombos and Caldeira de São João, which you don’t need to visit if you want a shorter hike. I will share the details of my hike below but also advise later on this blog post about the shorter, easier route for Poço das Pulgas waterfall.
Hike Distance: The total distance of my hike was 14 kilometers for the entire loop.
Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 4-5 hours from start to finish.
Hike Difficulty: The difficulties on this trail are the terrain for the most part. The steep ascent and descent meant there were many moments for slipping although most of the time there wasn’t a big drop-off. There were several parts of the trail where there was a significant drop-off and you needed to pass with care. This hike would be for experienced hikers looking for an adventure. I took my trekking poles and they helped a lot for the ascent through the forest.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 1,122 meters
My Strava Map Upload: Poço das Pulgas & More
HOW TO GET TO THE POÇO DAS PULGAS WATERFALL HIKE
The hike for Poço das Pulgas begins by parking at the Parque das Merendas picnic area. Here you can start and finish the route and have enough parking spaces. We parked down in the village just before this spot but walked straight past it. You will see the sign ‘Estrada das Fontes’ on the left and you follow this road from the village to Parque das Merendas.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE POÇO DAS PULGAS WATERFALL HIKE
Before I begin with my experience on the Poço das Pulgas hike, I should let you know that you can actually do this hike with a shorter, circular route of just 5-kilometers (route map here). This smaller route takes you to two waterfalls and then back to the car. Not bad for a short loop trail but if you want a longer, more adventurous hike you can check my map and follow the route I will explain in the text below (my map here).
Okay, so enough information, let’s get into this hike. The trail begins at the picnic area as I mentioned earlier and winds it’s way up in between a few scattered mountain huts. Slowly but surely, the forest engulfs civilization and within minutes, you have transitioned from the neighborhood to the dense canopy of the forest.
There’s really only one route up through the forest and once you are completely surrounded by the lushs greens of the forest, you will come across the first Poço das Pulgas sign. Given how wild this trail is, the waterfalls are signed well so it’s easy to navigate to the three different waterfalls just by following the blue signs.
By now, it is obvious that the main objective of this hike is the Poço das Pulgas waterfall. However, the first waterfall you will reach on this route is actually the Cascata do Rabo do Burro. Definitely add this into your route. If you don’t trust my advice then you can decide by checking out the photos of this waterfall below.
I didn’t even know the Cascata do Rabo do Burro waterfall was on this route. I thought I was in for just the one waterfall but this was the first of three. To be honest, it might have even been the prettiest one with a spectacularly symmetrical wall of ferns cut through the middle by the waterfall as it streamed down into a small pool below. It’s a very enchanted little spot and the density of the ferns and trees surrounding the waterfall create a very adventurous scene.
The trail now continues to Poço das Pulgas following more blue signs but not before passing another beautiful waterfall. That’s Madeira for you! In any other place in the world, this waterfall would be the main attraction but here, it’s merely a distraction as we marched on to find Poço das Pulgas.
The third and final waterfall of the trek was, of course, Poço das Pulgas. It did not disappoint and was an incredible serene little spot. Water cascaded down multiple tiers as we watched on through a veil of vines and ferns that created a curtain in front of this beautiful waterfall.
At this point, you can simply retrace your steps and head back to the car to complete the Poço das Pulgas loop hike. However, we decided to continue on to reach three more main points of interest. From this point onwards it got much more steep and very wild.
We first trekked up through the tree-line to reach a narrow rocky ridge, seemingly in the middle of nowhere as it broke through the canopy to give us a view of the valley. Here’s a little video I captured as I made my way up the ridge known as Rocha da Vara.
Our journey then continued through the dense trees. During these sections of the hike, there were no signs and I just followed the locals who I was hiking with. You could do the waterfall sections without a guide if you are resourceful and adventurous but these upper sections involved a few turns and some local knowledge. I’ve detailed who I was hiking with at the bottom of the blog post.
The viewpoint we reached is called Rocha dos Pombos and looks down over the coastal town of Ponta Delgada. It’s a pretty amazing viewpoint and due to how remote it is, I don’t think too many people come up here. Definitely not many tourists. There are a few nice boulders and it’s not a bad spot for a lunch break before you begin the descent.
We began the very slippery descent down from the viewpoint on some pretty wild trails. The boys had the machetes in full swing as they attempted to clear some of the trails from branches and debris. Our final destination for the route was to the Caldeira de São João, which was another epic waterfall spot although the water wasn’t quite in full force when I visited just before the winter.
The trail finally spat us out at a small cement staircase of ‘Caminho dos Lamaceiros’ next to the village and we walked back along the road for a few hundred meters to rejoin with the picnic spot. Overall, it was a great hike and the first few waterfalls definitely lived up to my expectations from the reviews I had heard.
MY AWESOME GUIDES (AND NEW FRIENDS) FOR THIS HIKE
This isn’t your regular hiking route so although I’ve given you a map and a lot of directions and advice, it’s best to link up with a local if you go for the longer route. Don’t expect any signs throughout the trail or to find most of the routes on a map. I did this hike with the Madeira Lés a Lés, which is a hiking group that does off-the-beaten-path adventures every Saturday. They welcome highly adventurous people to join but also offer specialized tours through their small business Madeira Wonder Hikes, where they can tour you on a trail that suits you and your group. Anyway, I just joined the group as a friend but thought you might find that information of value if you want to do some serious adventure on Madeira but aren’t sure who to get in contact with. If you meet any of the Madeira Lés a Lés crew, you will see what I’m talking about.
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike on Madeira Island. Happy hiking and stay safe out there.