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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

16 March 2015

Still hiking

12th Feburary 2015

We’re still hiking. This morning’s hike was very beautiful, along a levada that runs high up on the southern flanks of the Paul de Serra, so a much more open and moorland landscape than the verdant forests most of our other levadas have meandered through. The hike then dropped down a long gravel track to a much lower levada, which we followed until it ended at an old rockfall in a place called Cascalho – a sheer-sided cauldron at the very top of one of the island’s river valleys. It was an impressive spot, but the long trudge to and from wasn’t quite so thrilling. We rather wished we had followed the “alternative walk” which stayed at roughly the same level with the Levada Bica de Cana.

Anyway, tired but undaunted we stopped at the only place to eat up in these highlands for a slightly odd lunch of chicken soup, chips and garlic bread. The soup was vital, though, given the place seemed entirely unheated. At 4 degrees outside, there’s no way we were even taking our jackets off!

There is a fundamental truth here that echoes with our past experiences in South Africa and parts of South America. In all the regions of the world where it is only cold for one or two months of the year, they don’t waste money on heating and insulation; they just wrap up warm and survive the cold using all the heat they’ve absorbed from the sunshine they get throughout the rest of the year!

In the afternoon we went to Rabacal, a beauty spot beloved of the islanders where three levadas happen to flow quite close together, with some pretty waterfalls and glimpses of the big valley of the Ribiero de Janela to boot. Unsurprisingly it was a bit busier than our other hikes have been (we’ve seldom seen more than a couple of other people), but still hardly crowded.

Although we’ve still got a whole day to go, I can probably take a guess at our favourite levada walks. First place would be: Levada de Serra, maybe because it was our very first hike, but it was also a really ancient-looking levada high in the misty mountains and we didn’t see a single other person the whole time. Second & third places: Fohladal, with it’s super-mossy vegetation, and the Levada de Casteljo which wound quietly up a beautiful valley.

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