7.5 km – Point to point – Easy 3-4h 4
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This trail starts at the Portela Lookout Point, with a magnificent view of the North Coast of Madeira, and then heads towards Machico, winding its way through a mountain range where one will find the best area of Laurissilva Forest of the Southern part of the island, which is included in the European network of sites of community importance – Natura Network 2000.
This trail begins by the Portela viewpoint, from where we have a magnificent view over the Porto da Cruz and Faial parishes which is dominated by the rocky outcrop of Penha d’Águia. The hike begins along the forest road of the Funduras mountain range, and only later does it go along the footpath, inside the Laurissilva forest. Later on the trail crosses “Casa das Funduras” a building which supports forestry activities. At this point you can opt to walk to the Larano viewpoint where you can see a pretty view of the bay of the town of Machico. This area is included in the European network of protected areas – Natura 2000. The trail ends at the hamlet of Maroços, crossing traditional terraced fields that are so typical of the Madeiran agricultural landscape.
Madeira’s native forest – the Laurisilva forest is mainly found on the northern side of the island. It is adapted to conditions above 85% humidity and is distributed between altitudes of 400 and 1300 metres above sea level. Of the main trees making up this, there are 4 from the Lauraceae family: the bay (Laurus novocanariensis), the Til tree (Ocotea foetens), Indian bay (Persea indica), and less frequently, the Barbusano (Apollonias barbujana). Other trees can also be found amongst them, particularly the Lily of the Valley Tree (Clethra arborea), the Holly (Ilex perado ssp perado), the Laurel (Picconia excelsa), Mocanos (Pittosporum coriaceum and Visnea mocanera), e o Sanguinho (Rhamnus glandulosa).
This natural forest is very important for the ecological balance of the island as it is the main support for endemic flora and fauna. At the moment it covers an area of over 15,000 hectares. It is internationally known as the best-conserved forest Laurissilva of its kind and was designated a natural heritage site by UNESCO in December 1999.
It is on this mountain range that the best Laurisilva forest area on the South side of the island can be found, and which is included in the European Natura 2000 network. This unique forest is very important as a “water producer” because of its capacity to retain water from mists (hidden precipitation). This phenomenon is very obvious in this area, as suddens changes in weather happen frequently throughout the day. Air comes from the North loaded with water and is forced to climb the north-face of the mountain range creating fog as it falls down the south-face. The forest is essential in maintaining the springs in the Machico municipal area.
On the other side of the valley you can see the Santo da Serra golf course. On the horizon, you can see ilhas Desertas (Desertas Islands), and on land the outline of the highest peaks on the island (Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro). At Portela viewpoint there is a connection to PR10- Levada do Ribeiro Frio.
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