levadas without vertigo

edited December 1969 in Activities
My wife suffers from vertigo - not badly but enough to makeher a little nervous after reading about the levada walks. We would like to do some walking - and we will have a car so we can get around the island. Can anyone recommend walks (not too far) that should be OK for osmeone with mild vertigo.



  • Hi John and your wife,
    Many levada walks can be done by people who suffer mildly from vertigo.
    Don't know if you already have a guidebook, it would seem so if you say she got nervous by reading about walks.
    Otherwise I strongly recommend a book that is widely known and available everywhere on Madeira, the Sunflower book (www.sunflowerbooks.co.uk/madeira.htm).
    It has picknicks, short walks, car tours and
    accurately describes if a walk is suited for people with vertigo. Many are.The authors are careful people themselves and it is well known that Pat Underwood has always had such problems herself but still they describe walks of all sorts of difficulty.
    You say you have a car so I'll mention a few walks of which I know myself that these can't give any trouble.

    - From Funchal- the levada dos Piornais, till it gets more dangerous. You always can return anyway from any levada if you have to get back to your car and walking the same way back gives different views and is never boring.
    - From the cable car station in Monte- the levada that starts there (take a flashlight!)
    - the levada do Norte rarily presents problems
    ( I start near Cabo Girao, beyond Boa Morte,
    descending at Eira do Mourao over 2000 steps down to near Ribeira Brava, not difficult, just steep steps but wide)
    - the levada that starts at Pico do Facho above
    Machico (to the left)
    - the dry levada from Ribeiro Frio to Balcoes, a fantastic balcony viewpoint (quite safe).
    - the levadas of Rabacal. The one to 25 Fontes is built next to the path, so one can hold on to the levada wall.
    - the levada do Paul, from near the parking place above Rabacal in easterly direction.
    - the levada that starts at Encumeada in westerly direction, to Folhadal. When one continues straight on beyond the tunnel one gets at scary places unfit for vertigo sufferers but when one goes into the tunnel instead that appears after about 15 minutes and then walks through all tunnels (flashlights!!) one doesn't get any problems. In the tunnels one needs to watch his head mainly.
    - the levada that leads up to the Pico Ruivo do Paul on Paul da Serra.
    - the levada along the south coast, near Prazeres
    - my best hint (my favourite levada and an easy one): the Levada Ribeira da Janela from Santa above Porto Moniz in the utmost northwest.
    It is always wide, with stunning views, going mainly through a forest, not along steep drops.
    The best views are after the first few tunnels but with a car most people return at the first tunnel.The views you had then are also quite impressive already.
    - another favourite levada, also a wide path (jeeptrack leading up to ranger houses) is
    one from above Faja da Nogueira (starts to the right after an hour of climbing on a jeep road).
    Also goes through tunnels and offers great views. But the walk on a road not suited for hire cars also takes 45 minutes to reach Faja da Nogueira, so that's not a short walk.

    Of course some mountain walks (without levadas are also quite safe) :
    - an easy walk is from Eira do Serrado (magnificent balcony viewpoint!) down to Curral das Freiras, where one can take a bus back.
    - another great easy walk is from Achada da Teixeira above Santana to the Pico Ruivo, on a wide well-paved path that will give little problems because it's wide. A view on a clear day from Pico Ruivo is a real must!!
    - I like the walk up from Fontes above Ribeira Brava a lot. for the great views from this wide sandy road.
    - a marvelous area is also the Fanal, now reachable on a new road from Ribeira da Janela (village) near Porto do Moniz.

    Really a lot to do and chose from, but buy that book.

    Good luck,
    Ton van der Velden
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