Rabaçal is a popular destination for people who like to hike or walk. The most popular walk is the “Levada das 25 Fontes”. It has some tough routes with narrow paths, steep descents, and runs along deep canyons. However, you’ll find 25 springs along the route and you can visit the Risco waterfall, making the tough hike more than worth it.
Parking at the Levadas de 25 Fontes
The routes of Rabaçal are located in the Calheta area, about half an hour by car from the center of Calheta. We wanted to start early to avoid the hot sun, so we arrived at 8.30 AM at the start of the hiking route. At that moment, there were 4 other cars at the parking. The sun was shining, but since it was still early, it was quite cold. Also during the route it was a little bit cold in the morning, but on the way back it started to warm up.
Parking at the start of the Levadas de 25 Fontes is free. There is a shuttle bus service to the beginning of the route, that is 200 meters from the parking. At the time we arrived there was no shuttle service yet, so we walked the first part of the route. The shuttle bus service costs €3,-. When we finished the route, around 11.30 AM, we were able to take the shuttle bus service and we were very glad we could!
The routes of Rabaçal
The most famous route is the Levadas de 25 Fontes that can be combined with the Risco waterfall. But there are also other options and longer hiking routes that you can take. An overview:
- PR6 – Levada das 25 Fontes – 9 km
- PR6.1 – Levada do Risco – 6.6 km (11.0 km if combined with the Levada das 25 Fontes)
- PR6.2 – Levado do Alecrim – 6.8 km
- PR6.3 – Vereda de Lagoa do Vento – 6.7 km
PR6 – Levada das 25 Fontes
The official route starts at the Rabacal Nature Spot Café, however, this accommodation was closed the day we were there. From here you can start route PR6. It’s pretty straightforward since you can’t really go anywhere but forward. At some points there are intersections with signs, helping you to choose the correct route.
The Cisco Waterfall is not on the same route as the 25 springs, both routes are one-way and not in a circle. As soon as you find yourself on the intersection, you can choose between these two hotspots and once you come back you can choose to walk the other route as well.
To arrive at the 25 springs you’ll have to overcome hundreds of staircases, some rocky and narrow sections where you’ll walk belly-to-belly if there happens to be any oncoming traffic. Therefore, this route is not suitable for people with mobility problems.
Some reviews state that this route is not suitable for people who are afraid of heights, but all parts of the route are sufficiently secured. Don’t expect to be walking on hundred meters high cliffs, but yes, there are some parts that are very narrow with a little abyss next to it.
The landscapes are beautiful and you’ll spot a lot of different trees, plants, and flowers. Some parts of the route even look like you are taking part in a fairytale.
Walking trough a fairytale
Tips on walking the Levada das 25 Fontes
Are you thinking about walking the Levada das 25 Fontes in Rabaçal, Madeira? Here are a few tips to make sure you enjoy this hike as much as possible:
- In the morning it can be quite cold since there is a lot of shadow in the woods. Don’t forget to bring a vest or jacket with you. Around midday, it will begin to warm up and a shirt and/or shorts are sufficient.
- Do not wear slippers or sandals. This is not your regular walk around the park route, but it consists of a lot of steps, loose rocks, narrow pathways, and even some slippery paths. Wear sufficient hiking shoes or some good sneakers to make it comfortable for yourself.
- If you want the 25 springs all to yourself, you should start early in the morning. We’ve started at 8.30 AM and after two hours we arrived at the springs. There were probably 6 other persons. However, on the way back we passed a lot of oncoming traffic which means that around midday it can be very crowded at the springs.
- Don’t expect to see a lot of flowers. Most of the route is very green with a lot of trees and plants, but unfortunately, we didn’t spot a lot of colorful flowers.
- There are no bus lines going to the hiking routes, so you’ll need a car (or guided tour) to get there.