Curral Stream

A tour from Curral das Freiras the outskirts of Funchal, walking along the Levadas, in the midst of a spectacular mountain scenery.

Filling much of the rugged territory of the island of Madeira, are the "levadas", channels for transporting water from the springs and waterfalls in the highest points of the island, to the agricultural places, in much lower areas. The descent of the water is caused by mere gravity, channeled between two low, parallel walls. The traveler or tourist may, if they are very careful and have a good guide, venture out on foot, down the "levada". of 70 cm, usually with a narrow Prior to suggesting a specific tour, it makes sense to share some historical and geographical information, after the work already mentioned, by Orlando Ribeiro: "These aqueducts [levadas] are apparently very simple: a channel built in masonry, with a 50 cm depth and width platform where a path was placed.(...) It is estimated that there are 200 "levadas" with a length of some 1000 kms. However, the ramifications driving the water to the cultivated terraces are countless." If we are to follow the suggestion of adventurous guide "Landscapes of Madeira - A Countryside Guide" (by John and Pat Underwood, by Sunflower Books, 1983), as we reach the village of Curral das Freiras, about 15 kilometers north-northwest of Funchal, we may attempt the descent (over 300 meters of unevenness, by the Levada do Curral - with the privilege of admiring the splendid steep views of valleys and mountains. Pay attention as this is a very difficult route, only for hikers experienced in this type of situation (we recommend to take along the mentioned little book that shows a detailed scheme of this track). From north to south, supported by the "levada" parallel to Ribeira do Curral, you pass the Curral de Baixo, a small tunnel, and then a specially dangerous section (slippery, and where it is sometimes necessary to leave the "levada" ground, for security reasons, going by elsewhere), and reach to Fajã das Galinhas, then Fajã de Dentro, just before Ribeira do Arvoredo. Following the course of the "levada", which inflects to the north and then again to the south, you descend via Chamorra, Preces and Santo Amaro until the site of Esmeraldo. Upto here, you already have a 4hour-walk and therefore it is advisable to stop and recharge your batteries, eating and drinking in a picnic that you would have prepared in advance. Then the outskirts of Funchal start surrounding us, and the best of the landscape (and the worst of the danger) is already over...

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