Madeira is unique for its accessible and extensive watercourses.
"Levada" is a Portuguese word that derives from "levar", which means to carry and is very loosely interpreted as "carriageway". A more correct translation would be mini-canal. The levadas were originally created in the 16th Century to bring water from the rainy northern aspect of the island to the sun soaked south where crops such as sugar, bananas and grapes grow. The original settlers chipped away at the cliffs and tunnelled through solid rock to make channels and tunnels all with a very slight slope so that the water meandered down towards its destination. To this Day, the Levadeiro remains one of the oldest Jobs on the island. These men are in charge of opening and shutting the gates which control the flow of the levadas.
In total there are 2500 kms of levadas on the island and many were created even before the first roads!
Levada walks are very popular in Madeira as the way is cleared by maintained paths running along the water making it a calming experience with a scenic background of nature at its most lush. It also allows access to many parts not available to those driving. A truly iconic and enjoyable experience.