Everything you need to know about the Laurissilva Forest of Madeira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
We wanted to explore some parts of this forest, but we were only able to visit a small portion, as explained below.
The most exuberant areas are in the interior of the island of Madeira however some parts were off-limits because we visited the archipelago after a storm.
Also, as we travel as a family and with a small child, we usually don’t get into big adventures when safety is at stake.
Even so, we managed to visit some places that made us want to return soon.
What is the Laurissilva Forest?
The Laurissilva Forest is a subtropical rainforest native to the regions of Madeira, Azores, Canary Islands, and Cape Verde.
Generically, it is composed of trees and plants with difficult names but impressively retains water.
Did you know that the existence of mosses and lichens on trees means that the air quality in that area is excellent? Well, we learned this on this trip to Madeira.
At this moment, the most expressive area of the Laurissilva forest is in the Madeira archipelago, mainly in the northern part of the island.
How to visit the Laurissilva Forest in Madeira
The best way to explore the wetlands of Madeira’s Laurissilva forest is to walk along the levadas and paths in the north of the island.
So, leave your car safely parked in one of the parks at the beginning of the walking routes and go on an adventure.
Renting a car in Madeira is a must if you want to explore the most remote areas independently, and there is no turning back on that.
Remember to confirm the weather and conditions of the trails in advance and be prepared with sturdy shoes, water, snacks, warm clothes, and flashlights to cross the tunnels.
Another extra security measure is to let someone you trust know where you are going. So, in case you don’t return at the end of the day, they know where to look.
If, when reading this post, you get the idea that it is excessive, know that every year tourists are lost in the mountainous areas of Madeira, and many need to be rescued.
If you prefer to join an organized tour, there are several options departing from Funchal, for example, which include hiking, 4X4 tours, and other surprises.
Fanal belongs to the municipality of Porto Moniz, that is, in the North of Madeira, and is between Ribeira da Janela and Paul da Serra.
It is a pleasant area for hiking and discovering the Laurissilva forest, however, what caught our attention the most was the Tis forest.
The Tis forest consists of these strange, century-old trees that seem to have been twisted over time.
You see, some of these trees are older than the discovery of Madeira by the navigators João Gonçalves Zarco, Tristão Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Perestrelo in 1419!
You can drive to Fanal but to better explore the area we suggest two trails: PR13 – Vereda do Fanal and PR14 – Levada dos Cedros.
In case you don’t know and are trying to decide which one to do, the paths are dry trails, while the levadas are trails that follow the watercourses.
Don’t forget to look for the Fanal lagoon on your GPS and if you want you can take a picnic as there is a picnic area with tables to spend a few hours with your family.
Accomodation to explore Fanal and Laurissilva Forest
We stayed at Quinta da Saraiva in Câmara de Lobos, which is about 40 km from Fanal, and we enjoyed it.
In any case, if you want to stay in the North of Madeira in a hotel closer to Fanal and Porto Moniz, then check availability below:
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