Levada dos Maroços: a lovely rural trail in Madeira

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If you’re looking for a levada hike in Madeira that’s a bit different (not to mention completely devoid of any crowds), then the Levada dos Maroços is a little gem worth adding to your list.

Most of the popular levada hikes are in the island’s uninhabited centre and pass through laurel forests. This isn’t such a levada; instead of being deep in nature, this trail will let you enjoy the traditional rural environment of Madeira and see the levada in its actual function as an irrigation system.

The trail starts in the village of Maroços near Machico and stays on the hill slopes on the village edge for pretty much the whole way. You’ll pass by cute little gardens and terraced fields.

What we like most about this hike are the little human details you can see along the way. It’s also a very quiet trail, so you’re likely to have it all to yourself. (It’s not one of the official PR-designated trails but a local municipal one.)

Levada dos Maroços may not be one of the headline attractions in Madeira, but if you have an hour or two to spare and you are looking for something offbeat, you’ll find a very gentle and pleasing hike.

The starting point

The village of Maroços is easily missed if you’re driving around the island’s northeast since it’s mostly hidden from view due to the mountain tunnels.

Maroços is tucked in a valley close to Machico. You can drive to this waypoint on Google Maps and park your car here. There isn’t any signage to tell you where the hike starts, so we had to ask the local cafe owner. Fortunately, it’s very simple; just go a little bit up the hill in the northern direction, and you can’t miss it.

When you see the small water channel, simply follow it eastward. You go back the same way. The full hike takes about 2 hours there and 2 hours back, but you can easily shorten it based on your preferences. The trail is almost entirely flat.

A rural levada

The trail lets you observe the local small-scale agriculture taking place on the “Poios Madeirenses” (agricultural terraces). You’ll see rows of cabbages growing side-by-side with banana plants, bordered by stone walls that are bursting with succulents.

Besides some of the fields, you can see small roofed storage locations for harvested fruits and vegetables.

After about 45 minutes, there is a shrine of sorts by a small waterfall, where locals have placed numerous potted plants and religious figures inside plastic bottles to keep them dry. It’s a lovely scene that made us wonder what the story is behind it. Details like this make the trail more engaging than you may at first expect.

There are also many cute little cottages along the way, often ornamented with numerous potted plants or succulents. You’ll surely meet a cat or two and hear roosters from the village. It feels like a world away from the levadas where hikers often pass through in a single-file line.

We enjoyed this trail a lot and recommend it to anyone looking for an off-the-beaten-path gem! The official site of Machico has more details on the Levada dos Maroços hike.

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