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Levada Do Alecrim Waterfall Hike On Madeira Island


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Myrah Shears



Welcome to Madeira Island, an enchanting paradise located off the coast of Portugal. Known for its stunning landscapes, rugged coastlines, and lush greenery, Madeira offers a multitude of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. One of the must-visit spots on the island is the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike.


The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is a captivating adventure that takes you on a journey through ancient levadas, or narrow irrigation channels, surrounded by picturesque scenery. As you traverse the trail, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, endemic flora, and serene forests that make this hike truly unforgettable.


This hiking trail is perfect for adventurers of all levels, whether you are an experienced hiker or someone looking for a leisurely nature walk. The diverse landscape and moderate difficulty level of the hike make it accessible to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts.


In this article, we will provide you with all the essential details you need to know before embarking on the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike. From trail information and equipment essentials to safety precautions and tips for a successful hike, we have got you covered.


So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the stunning beauty of Madeira Island as we guide you through the mesmerizing Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike.


Getting to Madeira Island

Getting to Madeira Island is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected airport and ferry services. The island has a major international airport, Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC), which receives flights from various cities in Europe and beyond.


If you are coming from mainland Portugal, you can catch a direct flight to Madeira Island from Lisbon, Porto, or Faro. The flight duration from Lisbon to Madeira is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, making it a convenient option for travelers.


For those who prefer traveling by sea, there are regular ferry services available from mainland Portugal, specifically from the port cities of Portimão and Cadiz. The ferry journey takes longer compared to flying, but it offers a unique experience and scenic views along the way.


Once you arrive at Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport, you can easily access the city center by taking a taxi or a bus. Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminal, and buses operate on scheduled routes.


If you are already on the island and want to reach the starting point of the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike, you can either rent a car or use public transportation. Madeira has an efficient and reliable bus network that covers most areas of the island. Buses are a cost-effective option and convenient for reaching the starting point of the hike.


Alternatively, renting a car gives you more flexibility and freedom to explore the island at your own pace. There are several car rental agencies at the airport and in major towns, providing a range of vehicle options to suit your needs.


Before starting your journey, it is advisable to check the local transportation schedules and make any necessary arrangements in advance to ensure a smooth and stress-free trip to Madeira Island.


Overview of Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike

The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is a breathtaking trail that offers an immersive experience in the natural beauty of Madeira Island. The hike stretches along the levada, an ancient irrigation channel, providing hikers with stunning views of lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and cascading waterfalls along the way.


The trail is located in the picturesque Ribeiro Frio area of Madeira and is approximately 8 kilometers long. It is a circular hike, which means you will start and end at the same point. The trail is well-maintained and relatively easy to navigate, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels.


During the hike, you will have the opportunity to admire several magnificent waterfalls, with the largest one being the Risco Waterfall. This impressive waterfall plunges down from a height of over 100 meters, creating a mesmerizing spectacle surrounded by lush vegetation.


Along the levada, you will also encounter a diverse range of flora and fauna native to Madeira Island. From towering trees and colorful wildflowers to endemic species like the Madeira laurel and the Trocaz Pigeon, the trail offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the island’s rich biodiversity.


The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is not just about the natural beauty—it also provides an insight into the island’s agricultural heritage. As you hike along the levada, you will pass by terraced fields and traditional agricultural practices that have been passed down through generations.


Whether you are seeking a serene escape or an adventurous experience, the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike has something for everyone. It is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, breathe in the fresh air, and soak in the tranquility of Madeira’s captivating landscape.


As you embark on this journey, be prepared to be amazed by the natural wonders that await you, and don’t forget to capture the breathtaking scenery and waterfalls along the way!


Trail Information

The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is a well-marked circular trail that takes you through the pristine beauty of Madeira Island. Here are some important details and features of the trail:

  • Trail Length: The total length of the hike is approximately 8 kilometers.
  • Trail Type: The trail follows a levada, which is an ancient irrigation channel. It is a narrow and flat path, making it relatively easy to walk on.
  • Starting Point: The hike begins at Ribeiro Frio, a charming village in Madeira. You can easily reach Ribeiro Frio by car or public transportation.
  • Loop Trail: The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is a circular trail, meaning you will start and end at the same point.
  • Duration: The average duration of the hike is around 3 to 4 hours, depending on your pace and the time spent enjoying the scenery along the way.
  • Elevation Gain: The trail has a minimal elevation gain, making it suitable for hikers of various fitness levels.
  • Difficulty Level: The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is considered moderate in terms of difficulty. It requires a basic level of fitness and agility, as there are some uneven terrain and narrow sections.
  • Scenic Views: Throughout the hike, you will be treated to stunning views of waterfalls, dense vegetation, and dramatic cliffs. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of the surroundings.
  • Trail Facilities: Along the trail, you will find benches and picnic areas where you can take a break and enjoy a snack amidst the nature.

It is important to note that due to the uneven terrain and narrow paths, it is recommended to wear comfortable hiking shoes and exercise caution during the hike.


The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Madeira Island while enjoying a peaceful and invigorating outdoor adventure. So, get ready to embark on this unforgettable journey and make memories that will last a lifetime!


Difficulty Level and Duration

The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is considered to be of moderate difficulty, suitable for hikers with a basic level of fitness and agility. Here’s what you need to know about the difficulty level and estimated duration of the hike:


Difficulty Level:


The trail is relatively flat and well-maintained, following the path of the levada. However, there are some sections that require careful navigation due to uneven terrain, narrow pathways, and occasional steps. It is recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes and exercise caution, especially during wet or rainy conditions. While the hike is accessible to most people, it may not be suitable for individuals with mobility issues or severe vertigo.




The average duration of the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is around 3 to 4 hours, depending on your pace and the time spent admiring the scenery along the way. This estimate includes time for photo stops, rest breaks, and enjoying the waterfalls. It is important to start the hike early in the day to allow ample time before sunset.


It’s worth mentioning that the duration of the hike may vary based on individual fitness levels and hiking experience. If you are a beginner or prefer a more relaxed pace, you can take your time and enjoy the surroundings at a leisurely speed. On the other hand, experienced hikers may complete the hike in a shorter time frame.


It’s always wise to plan your hike accordingly, considering factors such as weather conditions, daylight hours, and your personal abilities. It is recommended to check the weather forecast before departing, as rain can make the paths slippery and impact the overall difficulty level of the trail.


Remember to stay hydrated, pack sufficient water and snacks, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions. It’s essential to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Pace yourself and enjoy the journey, taking in the natural beauty that surrounds you along the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike.


Equipment and Essentials

For a successful and enjoyable Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike, it’s important to be prepared with the right equipment and essentials. Here’s a list of items you should consider bringing with you:

  • Hiking Shoes: Wear comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain and ensure stability.
  • Clothing: Dress in layers and wear breathable and moisture-wicking clothing. It’s recommended to wear long pants to protect against scratches and insect bites. Bring a waterproof jacket or poncho in case of rain.
  • Sun Protection: Carry and apply sunscreen with a high UV protection factor, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from sunburn and glare.
  • Backpack: Use a lightweight and comfortable backpack to carry your essentials, such as water, snacks, a map or guidebook, and a small first aid kit.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated by bringing an adequate amount of water, preferably in a refillable water bottle. Pack energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, granola bars, and fresh fruits to keep your energy levels up.
  • Navigation Tools: Carry a map or guidebook of the trail, or use a reliable GPS device or mobile app to help you navigate. It’s important to stay on the designated path to ensure your safety and minimize the risk of getting lost.
  • Insect Repellent: Apply insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects that you may encounter along the trail.
  • Camera: Capture the stunning scenery and waterfalls along the hike with a camera or smartphone. Don’t forget to bring extra memory cards and batteries.
  • Emergency Whistle: Carry a whistle to signal for help in case of an emergency.

Note that the weather conditions in Madeira Island can change quickly, so it’s advisable to check the forecast before your hike and adjust your clothing and gear accordingly. Additionally, inform someone of your hiking plans and estimated return time for safety purposes.


Being prepared with the right equipment and essentials will allow you to fully enjoy the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike while ensuring your comfort, safety, and overall hiking experience.


Starting Point: Ribeiro Frio

The starting point of the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is the charming village of Ribeiro Frio, located in the heart of Madeira Island. Ribeiro Frio translates to “Cold Stream” in Portuguese, and it is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique ecosystem.


Ribeiro Frio is easily accessible by car or public transportation. If you choose to drive, you can reach the village by following the main road ER103, which connects various parts of the island. There is ample parking available near the hike’s starting point, allowing you to safely leave your vehicle before embarking on the trail.


Alternatively, you can also reach Ribeiro Frio using the efficient public transportation network of Madeira. Many buses connect Ribeiro Frio with other major towns and tourist areas on the island, making it convenient to access the starting point without a private vehicle.


As you arrive in Ribeiro Frio, you will be greeted by the natural beauty that surrounds this area. The village is known for its lush vegetation, including the famous Laurissilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forest is home to numerous endemic species and provides a serene and refreshing atmosphere.


Before you begin your hike, take some time to explore Ribeiro Frio and visit the nearby attractions. The village is home to the Quinta do Furão, a historic mansion that has been converted into a visitor center and restaurant. Here, you can learn about the history and cultural heritage of Madeira while enjoying delectable local cuisine.


When you are ready to start the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike, look for the signposts or follow the directions provided by your guidebook or GPS device. The trailhead is well-marked, ensuring that you start your journey in the right direction.


The starting point at Ribeiro Frio sets the tone for the entire hike, immersing you in the natural beauty and tranquility of Madeira Island. Take a deep breath, soak in the surroundings, and get ready to embark on a memorable adventure along the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike.


Walking Along the Levada do Alecrim

As you set off from the starting point at Ribeiro Frio, you will begin your captivating journey along the Levada do Alecrim. Walking along the levada, you will be surrounded by lush greenery, tranquil forests, and the soothing sound of flowing water.


The levada is a narrow irrigation channel that winds its way through the beautiful landscapes of Madeira Island. The path beside the levada is relatively flat and easy to walk on, allowing you to focus on the scenic views and serenity of the surroundings.


The trail offers a unique perspective of the island’s natural wonders, providing glimpses of hidden waterfalls, moss-covered rocks, and endemic vegetation. You will have the opportunity to witness the magical interplay between sunlight and foliage as it filters through the dense canopy above.


As you walk along the levada, you will encounter several tunnels carved into the mountainside. These tunnels add an element of excitement and adventure to the hike, allowing you to explore the hidden depths of Madeira’s landscape.


Along the way, you may come across small footbridges that span over streams or ravines. These charming bridges not only provide a convenient crossing point but also offer picturesque views of the surrounding natural beauty.


The Levada do Alecrim trail is also known for its fantastic viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas. From these viewpoints, you can take a moment to pause, soak in the breathtaking scenery, and capture beautiful photographs to cherish the memories of your hike.


Walking along the Levada do Alecrim is a tranquil and meditative experience, allowing you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. The gentle sound of flowing water and the harmony of birdsong create a soothing ambiance, providing a peaceful escape from the outside world.


As you continue your journey along the levada, remember to tread lightly, respect the natural environment, and leave no trace behind. Take your time, breathe in the fresh air, and let the beauty of Madeira Island unfold before your eyes as you walk along the Levada do Alecrim.


Enjoying the Scenic Waterfalls

One of the highlights of the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is the opportunity to witness and appreciate the beauty of the scenic waterfalls along the trail. Madeira Island is renowned for its stunning cascades, and this hike allows you to get up close and personal with some of its most mesmerizing waterfalls.


As you make your way along the levada, you will encounter several waterfalls, each with its own unique charm. The largest and most prominent waterfall on the trail is the Risco Waterfall, which stands at a towering height of over 100 meters. The sheer magnitude of Risco Waterfall is a sight to behold, as it cascades down the rocky cliffs in a graceful and powerful display of nature’s force.


Take a moment to pause and appreciate the majesty of the waterfalls. Feel the refreshing mist on your face and listen to the enchanting sound of water crashing onto rocks below. The power and beauty of these natural wonders are sure to leave you in awe.


While the Risco Waterfall may be the star attraction, there are other smaller and equally charming waterfalls along the route. These hidden gems create a picturesque landscape, with water gently flowing over moss-covered rocks and creating a serene and tranquil ambiance.


The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike also provides opportunities for closer exploration and interaction with the waterfalls. Some areas allow you to get closer to the cascades, where you can feel the cool spray on your skin and watch the water glistening in the sunlight.


Remember to exercise caution when approaching the waterfalls, as the rocks can be slippery. Take your time and find safe vantage points to enjoy the spectacle without putting yourself at risk. Always prioritize your safety and respect the natural environment while marveling at the beauty of the waterfalls.


Don’t forget to capture the magnificent waterfalls through the lens of your camera or smartphone. These natural wonders present great photography opportunities, so be sure to have your camera ready to capture the essence of the waterfalls and create lasting memories of your hike.


Embrace the enchantment of the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike as you immerse yourself in the magic of the scenic waterfalls. Allow their beauty to captivate your senses and create a truly memorable experience amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Madeira Island.


Fauna and Flora of the Trail

The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike offers more than just stunning landscapes and captivating waterfalls. The trail introduces you to a diverse array of fauna and flora that call Madeira Island home. As you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the hike, keep an eye out for these unique and fascinating species.




One of the most prominent plant species you will encounter on the trail is the Madeira Laurel (Laurus novocanariensis). This evergreen tree is endemic to Madeira and can be recognized by its glossy, dark green leaves. The laurel forest, known as the Laurissilva Forest, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to a variety of ferns, mosses, and lichens.


Another notable plant species is the Trocaz Pigeon Tree (Ercilla glandulosa). This tree is also endemic to Madeira and is a vital food source for the native Trocaz Pigeon. Look for its unique clusters of bright red berries along the trail.


The Levada do Alecrim hike takes you through a variety of ecosystems, from damp and shaded areas to open and sunlit sections, offering a diverse range of plant life at different elevations.




As you walk along the levada, keep an eye out for various bird species that inhabit the forests of Madeira. The Trocaz Pigeon (Columba trocaz) is a native bird species that can be frequently spotted in the area. With its pinkish-grey plumage and distinct call, it is a treat for bird enthusiasts.


You might also come across other avian species such as kestrels, chaffinches, and the endemic Madeira Firecrest (Regulus madeirensis), which is known for its vibrant colors and lively nature.


Keep a lookout for small reptiles and amphibians, including the Madeira Wall Lizard (Teira dugesii) and the Canary Islands Lizard (Gallotia galloti). These cold-blooded creatures can often be seen basking in the sun or scurrying across rocks.


Additionally, the forests along the trail are home to a variety of invertebrates, including colorful butterflies, dragonflies, and beetles. Take a moment to appreciate the intricacies of these small creatures as they flit through the foliage.


While exploring the fauna and flora of the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike, it’s important to respect the natural habitat and observe wildlife from a distance. Avoid disturbing or feeding the animals and refrain from picking or damaging any plants or flowers.


Take the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the incredible biodiversity of Madeira Island as you encounter the captivating fauna and flora along the trail.


Tips for a Successful Hike

To ensure a successful and enjoyable experience on the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind before you hit the trail:

  • Plan Ahead: Familiarize yourself with the trail map, understand the route, and estimate the time it will take to complete the hike. Plan your trip accordingly, considering factors such as transportation, weather conditions, and daylight hours.
  • Check the Weather: Before heading out, check the weather forecast for the day. While Madeira generally has a mild climate, conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Dress appropriately and be prepared for any changes in weather, such as rainfall or cooler temperatures.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Choose comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain along the trail. Ensure that your footwear is broken in to prevent blisters or discomfort during the hike.
  • Stay Hydrated and Pack Snacks: Carry sufficient water to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Pack lightweight snacks such as energy bars, fresh fruits, or trail mix to keep your energy levels up and replenish nutrients along the trail.
  • Protect Yourself from the Sun: Apply sunscreen generously before starting the hike and bring a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen during the hike, especially if you are exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period.
  • Respect Nature: Leave no trace behind and adhere to the principles of responsible hiking. Preserve the natural environment by refraining from littering, picking flowers, or disturbing wildlife. Stay on the designated trail to avoid damaging plants and sensitive ecosystems.
  • Take Breaks: Pace yourself during the hike and take regular breaks to rest, admire the scenery, and recharge. Use designated rest areas or benches along the trail for comfortable breaks.
  • Stay on the Trail: The levada paths can be narrow, with steep drops on one side. Pay attention to your footing and exercise caution, especially when passing other hikers. Stick to the marked trail and follow any safety instructions or signage along the way.
  • Be Prepared for Emergencies: Carry a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies and have a basic first aid kit with you. Let someone know your hiking plans, estimated return time, and emergency contact details.

Remember, hiking is about enjoying the journey and immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Madeira Island. Keep these tips in mind to ensure a safe, memorable, and successful Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike.


Safety Precautions

While the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike offers a beautiful and rewarding experience, it’s important to prioritize safety during your adventure. Here are some essential safety precautions to follow:

  • Stay on the Marked Trail: Stick to the designated path and avoid venturing off into unknown areas. Veering off the trail can be dangerous, as it may lead to unstable terrain or introduce the risk of getting lost.
  • Be Mindful of Slippery Conditions: The levada paths and surrounding rocks can be slippery, particularly after rain or in shaded areas. Take extra caution while walking on wet surfaces and use trekking poles for additional stability if needed.
  • Watch Your Step: Pay attention to your footing, especially on uneven terrain or narrow sections of the trail. Take your time and maintain a steady pace to avoid accidents or falls.
  • Prepare for Changing Weather Conditions: The weather in Madeira can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to be prepared. Pack a waterproof jacket or poncho in case of rain and dress in layers to adjust to temperature changes. Always check the weather forecast before heading out on the hike.
  • Carry Sufficient Water and Stay Hydrated: It’s important to stay hydrated during the hike, so carry an adequate amount of water. Drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty, to prevent dehydration. Refill your water bottles whenever possible.
  • Protect Yourself from the Sun: Wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses will help protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Reapply sunscreen regularly, especially if you are exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period.
  • Inform Someone of Your Hiking Plans: Before embarking on the hike, let a friend or family member know your hiking plans, including the starting point, expected duration, and estimated return time. Check-in with them upon completing the hike to ensure your safety.
  • Use Caution in Tunnels and Bridges: When passing through tunnels or crossing footbridges, use caution and stay aware of your surroundings. Some tunnels may have low ceilings or limited visibility, so carry a flashlight or headlamp to help guide your way.
  • Respect Wildlife and Nature: Admire wildlife from a distance, avoid disturbing animals, and refrain from feeding them. Respect the natural environment by not littering and leaving no trace behind.
  • Hike with a Friend or Group: Whenever possible, hike with a companion or in a group. Having someone by your side increases safety and provides support in case of emergencies.

By following these safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike. Remember to use common sense, be aware of your surroundings, and take necessary precautionary measures for a memorable and incident-free adventure.



The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike on Madeira Island is a truly captivating adventure that combines the serene beauty of nature with the exhilaration of exploration. From the moment you step onto the trail at Ribeiro Frio, you will find yourself immersed in the stunning landscapes, lush forests, and breathtaking waterfalls that characterize this hike.


Throughout the journey, you will be treated to a sensory feast of sights and sounds, from the gentle flow of water in the levada to the vibrant colors of the endemic flora and the melodious songs of the island’s birdlife. Each twist and turn of the levada brings new discoveries and moments of awe.


Whether you are an experienced hiker searching for a new challenge or a nature lover seeking a peaceful escape, the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike offers something for everyone. The moderate difficulty level of the trail makes it accessible to a wide range of enthusiasts, while the stunning scenery and fascinating flora and fauna create a sense of wonder at every step.


As you venture along the trail, remember to respect the natural environment, stay mindful of safety precautions, and take the time to truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Capture the memories with your camera, but also allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the symphony of nature.


The Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike is an opportunity to connect with Madeira Island in a profound way—immersing yourself in its natural wonders, uncovering its hidden treasures, and creating lasting memories. So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embrace the beauty that awaits you on this unforgettable journey.


Get ready to be captivated by the Levada do Alecrim Waterfall Hike, where the magical combination of waterfalls, verdant landscapes, and the peaceful rhythm of the levada will leave an indelible impression on your heart and soul.