In the heart of the forest

In the heart of the forest

Two of the most recent signalled pedestrian trails in Madeira lead to two small lakes of an immense beauty.

As one drives in the area of Paúl da Serra, one cannot help but notice a large number of automobiles parked in a lot supercilious to a valley. From there one can enter the path to Rabaçal which can only be reached by foot or through a shuttle service provided by the Calheta Municipality that runs daily between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Down below, Rabaçal is a valley plentiful in nature, where the hand of man left but a few finishing touches inspired by Nature. But it is the point of departure for several trails, called levadas , explored daily by dozens of visitors. The trails follow a complex system of water courses and represent a growing trend in leisurely activities.

The list of such recommended pedestrian trails in Madeira recently grew by two. Levada do Alecrim is a proper levada while Lagoa do Vento is a trail that ventures the forest.

Levada do Alecrim is sought for its magnificent course but mostly because at the end one finds Lagoa do Alecrim, also called Lagoa da Dona Beja, a small lake at the basis of an 8 metre tall waterfall, in Ribeira do Lajeado.

The course takes one through tunnels of heather and through Ribeira do Alecrim, which furnishes the Calheta Hydroelectric Central. Plant species endemic to Madeira are a constant sight throughout. The views over Vales do Rabaçal and Ribeira da Janela are unique.

The course is 3.5 km long and ends at the the Mother of Levada do Alecrim. One can enjoy looking at the waters of Lagoa da Dona Beija and the surrounding small lakes. Or bathe in the waters and see how they follow their course to furnish Lagoa do Vento further down.

The point of departure for Lagoa do Vento is practically the same, that is, Posto Florestal do Rabaçal. The course walks through heather and parts of the Laurel forest. It walks through some small creeks and areas of deep vegetation.

The burbling of water signals the arrival to Lagoa do Vento. The same waters feed the equally much sought after Risco waterfall.

Lagoa do Vento is fed by a waterfall roughly 80 metres high which falls vertically in the shape of an arch over a slope. The abundant green colour is derived from the predominance of heather bushes. It is located in Ribeira do Lajeado, affluent to Ribeira da Janela and it is possible to observe some basalt stones younger than 1.8 million years. These are characterized by prismatic disjunction, a very frequent phenomenon in volcanic rocks resulting from the tension that is generated inside lava as it cools down and solidifies.

These courses are part of a set of options departing from Posto Florestal do Rabaçal which include some of the most walked trails of Madeira such as 25 Fontes and Risco.

The changes made to Levada do ALecrim and Lagoa do Vento were made with the goal of offering alternatives to the overwhelming demand for trails in this area.