The Caldeirao Verde waterfall hike is one of the most popular and beautiful levada walks on Madeira. What makes this hike so unique are the many waterfalls you will see along the way and the beautiful lush green jungle surroundings. You’ll have to pass a few tunnels and walk underneath little waterfalls, so be prepared with a rain jacket, flashlight or headlamp. The total distance of this flat levada walk is 12 kilometres out and back. With only a little 100 meters of incline this hike is perfect for all ages, providing some of the best valley views and waterfalls on Madeira! Read in this complete guide everything you need to know about the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike in Santana, Madeira.
Levada do Caldeirão Verde key facts
Before setting off to the Levada do Caldeirão Verde, below some key facts!
Hike distance and duration
The total distance of the Caldeirão Verde hike is 12 kilometres out and back which will take you about 4 to 5 hours depending on your speed and breaks. After reaching the Caldeirão Verde waterfall and lagoon, you can do two things. Return to Queimadas Park to the car, or hike further to the Caldeirão Inferno. This will add another 8 kilometres to the hike, making it a total of 20 kilometres if you combine Caldeirão Verde and Caldeirão Inferno in one hike. You basically only need to continue on the levada after reaching Caldeirão Verde waterfall.
Hike difficulty and incline
The best things about the Levada do Caldeirão Verde is that most of the trail is flat with beautiful jungle views along the way. There are only a few stairs involved with about 100 meters of incline. This makes Caldeirão Verde a perfect levada walk for all ages, as long as you’re a bit adventurous! The paths are very well maintained because its one of the most popular levada walks on Madeira. Along the narrow paths or with a drop off there’s always a safety railing. Some of the obstacles of this hike are the four tunnels you need to pass, so bring a flashlight or headlamp. Also after heavy rain there is a chance that a waterfall will pour directly on the path. You might want to prepare yourself for this with a rain jacket and hoodie.
How to get to Levada do Caldeirão Verde
The Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike begins in Queimadas Forest Park which is located along the north coast of Madeira in Santana. From Funchal it will take you about 45 minutes to get to the parking lot of the Caldeirão Verde hike. We did this hike when we stayed at Quinta do Furao in Santana, from where it’s only a 12 minute drive up the mountain to the parking lot. So you can also choose to do this hike when located in one of the beautiful hotels on the north part of the island for a few days.
Quinta do Furão in Santana, a 12 minute drive from the parking of Caldeirão Verde
Once arrived at the parking lot you will see a gate, this means you’ll have to get a parking ticket from the machine and pay 1 euro parking per hour or 3 euros for the maximum stay. Before the trailhead of Levada do Caldeirão Verde starts, you’ll see a cafe with picnic area. Here you can grab a coffee or snack before or after the hike. The house is a beautiful and typical house of Santana with the original features and thatched roof. There are also cute cottages which you can book to stay the night, a lagoon with ducks and a beautiful forest to explore.
It feels as if you enter a little fairytale at the start of Caldeirao Verde
Before, or after the Caldeirão Verde hike you can walk a bit into the Queimadas Forest Park to see the beautiful trees and a stunning viewpoint. See the pictures below we took in this forest.
Best time to do the Caldeirão Verde hike
If you want to experience the Levada do Caldeirão Verde with the fewest people, the best time to do the Caldeirão Verde hike is in the morning. Arrive early and (try to) be the first one at the lagoon. This will give you an even more special experience of being one with nature than with crowds. During the high season in summer there can be many other people on the hike. Especially with groups visiting this popular levada walk as one of the most favorite outdoor activities on Madeira island.
In terms of the best season to do the Caldeirão Verde hike, the waterfalls will be most spectacular after rainy days. And because it usually doesn’t rain too much in summer season, you can expect the waterfalls to be little to dry. We did the Caldeirão Verde hike in November after some heave rain, and all the waterfalls were powerful and beautiful. We’ve seen pictures of the waterfalls of Caldeirão Verde in summer season and they were quite underwhelming. So you have to have to right expectations according to the month you’re doing this hike.
What to expect during the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike
Levada Caldeirao Verde has it all. Jungle vibes, many waterfalls, tunnels, viewpoints, beautiful gorges, lush vegetation and an adventurous feel. This scenic levada trail is definitely one of the best levada walks on Madeira. The Caldeirão Verde is also known as the green cauldron because of its beautiful green canyon where the 100 meters high Caldeirão Verde waterfall gushes down own along intense green rocks.
The first part of the trail is on a wide path along the levada through the forest. After only a kilometre you can spot the first beautiful waterfall on this trail.
Especially after some rainy days this waterfall is amazing with two streams of water flowing along the mossy rocks. You’ll feel immediately immersed into a jungle fairytale. We enjoyed this place and took some photos before continuing the hike.
Ferns overflowing the paths of the Caldeirao Verde hike and there are greens everywhere around you. It’s some of the most jungle feel levada walks in Madeira. The only ones which had this incredible jungle and waterfall vibe as well were Levada Faja do Rodrigues and Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike. So you already know some other hikes in Madeira to put on your list if you loved this one!
After about 3 kilometres into the hike you will see another beautiful waterfall along the trail. It might not be the biggest and most beautiful waterfall of the hike. But it’s definitely worth a quick stop.
Cloud forest or mountain views
Depending on the weather conditions you will see beautiful mountain views along the way. After rainy days there appear several waterfalls out of the mountains which gives that incredible Jurassic Park feeling. With low hanging clouds covering the peaks of the mountains, it gives a filmic vibe to these jungle scenes. A bit of fog is nice along the trail, but on a completely foggy day you might end up in a cloud forest. This has its charm as well, but you won’t see as much of the mountain views as on a clear day.
The tunnels of Levada Caldeirao Verde
Levada do Caldeirão Verde has four tunnels you need to pass. You have to bring a flashlight or even better a headlamp so you’ll have your hands free. These tunnels differ in length and height, but be prepared to bend a bit forward in some tunnels because the roof can be low. And those rocks don’t give in if your head touches it… Unfortunately I can say that out of experience, and it can really really hurt you. So be very careful and focus on walking when going through tunnel.
More obstacles along the Levada Caldeirao Verde hike
At one point along the trail a waterfall pours off the rock above directly onto the path. This means you’ll have to walk or run effectively underneath the waterfall shower without getting too soaked. So make sure to bring a waterproof jacket with hoodie. Especially in the autumn and winter season when rain showers are more common and the waterfalls more powerful.
Entering the waterfall and lagoon of Caldeirao Verde
From the beautiful lush and dense forest trail you’ll wind around the cliffside with incredible views on the green valley. With only a few kilometres left you will enjoy this last part of the Caldeirao Verde hike before reaching the Caldeirao Verde waterfall and lagoon. You’ll see a sign and fence saying that it is prohibited to enter the lagoon. This is because of a landslide that occurred in October 2019 causing injuries to 11 people. Because of safety and probably liability reasons it is now not advised anymore to go towards the lagoon. But you can easily go around the fence and check it out, on your own risk of course. This is always a bit risky to write in a blog post, but I just want you to be aware of the risks in nature. Always be careful, but don’t let it limit your adventures. Explore with care!
Caldeirao Verde waterfall and lagoon
Once arrived at the 100 meters high waterfall you will feel immersed in this beautiful green canyon where the name ‘green cauldron’ comes from. The waterfall is a beautiful straight stream of water that flows gently down along the mossy rocks. The natural pool below the waterfall is perfectly round formed and has super cold but crystal clear waters. Definitely some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Madeira! It is worth the hike and a perfect place to take a break, eat your lunch and recharge for the hike back. Or…. You can continue the hike towards the Caldeirao Inferno! Another set of waterfalls, and stairs, will be waiting for you!
Continuing to Caldeirao Inferno from Caldeirao Verde
If you have the energy, and time left, then you should definitely continue towards Caldeirao Inferno. This hike adds another 8 kilometres (out and back) to the Levada Caldeirao Verde hike. You just continue along the levada from Caldeirao Verde until you reach Caldeirao Inferno waterfall. This is another beautiful green canyon with a waterfall flowing down the mossy rocks. When we did this hike in November it had been raining for quite some time. But even then we didn’t see the Caldeirao Inferno waterfall in full power. It probably only flows after days of heavy rain. So to set your expectations good per season, don’t expect to see a waterfall in the Caldeirao Inferno during summer season. And even after some rainy days it is not guaranteed to see this waterfall in full power.
What to prepare for the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike
Before setting off to the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike below some tips on things you need to bring.
- Hiking shoes
- Headlamp or flashlight
- About 1 liter water or more
- Waterproof jacket in autumn and winter months
Where to stay in Madeira
There are several towns in Madeira that are great to stay while exploring the island. Funchal is the capital town of the island with the most restaurants around. It has a charming old town and all sorts of facilities you might look for such as a boulevard, shopping centre, cafe’s and nightlife. It is a great place to base yourself with plenty of culture and beautiful old buildings and charming streets to explore. There are also a few beaches in Funchal to enjoy the ocean. However these beaches are from pebble stones.
We have stayed in The Vine hotel and Okulus villa which are both beautiful locations. The Vine has the comforts of a hotel including breakfast and is located right in the city centre. Okulus villa is located in the Old Town with the most amazing ocean and city view.
If you want to be based near a sandy beach in Madeira, then Calheta is a great place. While Funchal is more to the east of the island located, Calheta is more to the west of the island located. So eventually you can also stay a few days in both towns depending the total length of your stay in Madeira. Calheta has an atmospheric marine with restaurants offering great spots to watch the sunset and enjoy a meal.
We have stayed a few weeks at Calheta Boutique Houses during our 7 months living in Madeira. Highly recommend these private villa’s as you have all the amenities you have at home as well. The modern design and amazing ocean views makes it a perfect vacation home.
Small villages in nature
If you want to experience really small towns to stay in Madeira, then check out the accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio. Take into account that there will be less restaurants around but you will be completely immersed in the local life and nature.
Precautions for levada walks and hiking in Madeira
For a safe hiking experience in Madeira it is important to take the following safety precautions. There have been accidents in Madeira on levada walks and in the mountains in the past, which doesn’t directly make hiking in Madeira dangerous. But you do always have to keep in mind that the weather in Madeira can change suddenly. Or that landslides take place, branches can fall or paths can be slippery. In case of any emergency you can call 112.
Below some of our tips for a safe Madeira hiking experience
- Wear suitable clothes, always bring an extra jacket and put your hiking boots / shoes on with good grip.
- Take enough water and some snacks with you such as nuts, (dried) fruits etc.
- Always bring a headlamp on your hikes in Madeira because some of them include walking through a tunnel.
- Take a whistle with you in case you get lost or slip from the path.
- Book a qualified guide when you want to be sure on your first levada walk. Most of the levada walks are flat and easy, especially the well known levada’s in Madeira. You can find a detailed description in our blog about the 20 best levada’s in Madeira. But if you prefer a qualified guide next to you when walking in Madeira, you will not only learn more about the nature but you will also be 100% safe and don’t have to worry about navigating your way through the forest.
- When hiking alone on Madeira, prepare yourself and collect all the updated information about the trail you plan to follow. Are the trails open? No landslides? On the website of Visit Madeira you can find the up to date info of the walks which are open and closed.
- Calculate the time you’ll need to finish the hike so you’ll be back before dark.
- Inform the hotel or accommodation you are staying which walk you are going to do.
- Do not go off the designated path.
What is a Levada?
If you’re coming to Madeira for the first time, you might question what the word ‘Levada’ actually means. This word specifies the different Madeira hiking trails. But what is the origin of these Levadas and what is their purpose?
Levadas are little canals of water that wind through the mountains and translates as “carriageway”. These water canals are irrigation systems. They are developed to distribute water from the wetter regions on the north of Madeira to the drier and sunnier areas of the south where lots of plantations are located. The levadas cover a total distance of about 2500 kilometre from the heart of the Laurissilva forest to the most rocky slopes.
The origin of the levadas dates back to the 15th century when the first levadas where created. Their purpose was to provide water to irrigate the sugarcane plantations. Back then sugar was also known as the “white gold” because it was considered as the main engine of Madeira’s economy in the 15th & 16th century. The narrow water canals have ever since the important task to deliver water along far distances. Mainly to banana plantations, vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. But also to let the hydro-electric power stations on the island work.
But nowadays, the levadas are also a great way to discover Madeira’s stunning nature. You will see landscapes and different species of flora and fauna along the levadas that are unique in the world.
Best Madeira guided levada tours
If you want to explore some of the best levada walks in Madeira, then it is highly recommended to book a guided tour. Your guide can tell you everything about the flora and fauna, you can’t get lost and you don’t have to worry about any preparation except the right shoes and clothing, All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Book here your guided walk along Levada Caldeirão Verde including transportation. This is one of the most popular levada walks in Madeira as you will see many waterfalls along the way, such as the famous Caldeirao Verde waterfall.
- Book here your guided Levada das 25 Fontes walk. Another famous levada walk in Madeira leading you to the beautiful Risco waterfall and 25 Fontes waterfall. A must do!
- Book here your guided Levada dos Cedros hike. The lesser known Levada dos Cedros brings you to a beautful waterfall at the end of the trail. A must do if you like the more hidden gems.
- Book here your guided Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova hike including transport. The unique waterfall pours down a cliffs over the levada path. Be prepared to get a little wet!
- Book here your private guided Levada dos Tornos hike. North Madeira is super lush and the Levada brings you along a scenic path to some beautiful waterfalls.
- Book here your private guided Levada do Alecrim hike including transport. This levada walk is perfect for families and during the summer months you can even swim in the natural pool of the waterfall!
- Book here your private guided Lagoa do Vento hike including transport. The beautiful, tall waterfall of Lagoa do Vento is a must visit. You can even swim in the natural pool for a refreshing dip after the hike down.
General travel must haves for Madeira
Before we dive into the best levadas in Madeira, let’s check a few things to make your travels in Madeira easy and safe.
Have you thought about how to get around in Madeira? A car is the easiest way to drive around the island.
- Book your rental car here and compare the providers to get the best deal.
- Book your scooter or motorbike here to get around in Madeira. Most of the scooters you can drive with driving license (A1/A2/A) from 18 years old, or from 25 years old with a car (B) license. The motorbikes have a minimum age of 20 or 21 with A (moto) license.
Do you prefer a private driver for the day and the freedom to create your own itinerary?
Did you already book your accommodation?
- Check out this great tool to compare prices of hotels on different platforms from around the world and book your favorite hotel
Are you insured during your travels?
- Buy your travel insurance here. Safetywing not only includes coverage for travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters and personal liability. But also covers all your medical expenses for hospitalisation.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this full guide about the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike.
For more Madeira travel inspiration and the must visit destinations, head over to our other blog posts about Madeira island.