The Portuguese archipelago of Madeira lies in the Atlantic Ocean more than 500 kilometres from the African coast and 1000 kilometres from Europe. The mountainous terrain and spectacular coastal views have turned Madeira into a popular walking and trekking destination, especially during the early spring and late autumn seasons, when hikers are attracted by the mild climate. The volcanic origins of Madeira have given rise to its jagged mountain topography, with intensely fertile green, valleys lying between the soaring peaks.
Many of Madeira’s best walking trails follow the network of old levadas, or aqueducts. These channels have been painstakingly constructed since the 16th century to carry water from Madeira’s wet northwest side to the drier south-eastern part of the island. The levadas contour around the precipitous slopes, making the steep mountain terrain and stupendous views easily accessible to any walker. Occasionally the levadas have actually been tunnelled through the mountains, but more often you can walk with the mountain to one side and panoramic views across the valleys or the coast on the other.
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