Discovering the Beauty of Arco Da Calheta | Nutrition Fit

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Arco da Calheta is a village on the south west coast of Madeira. At sea level the coast is rocky and wild with the exception of Vila Calheta where the hotels have yellow sand beaches, cafes and restaurants at the marina. However, turn left out of the tunnel to step into the wild side.

Driving through the village past the church you will see the high terraces rising ahead of you. Entering Loreto take a right opposite the church to drive further up the mountainside and keep a look out for the Levada water, retaining tanks; it is where the levada crosses the road. Find a safe place to park.

From here you could walk a distance West to Prazeres on the Levada Nova or go East to enjoy the walk across the back of Arco da Calheta. The path is safe, even and there are no big drops to bother less brave souls! In June and July you can expect to see Agapanthus, blue and white lining the edges. As the sun strikes the Eucalyptus trees and pine trees the energising smells mix in the clear air of the mountain.

You may be lucky enough to meet a levada-man tending the flow of the water in the narrow canal. His job is to keep the canal free of debris and sometimes it seems to watch the world go by and chat to walkers! The woodsmen may well be cleaning up the floor of the wood, clearing fallen timber and making good last seasons fires – yes sadly the mountain sides are prone to fire in the dry summer months. But nature recovers the woods very quickly and winter rains green up the mountainside within a season. Fallen branches are quickly cleared by villagers for winter fuel, rolling them down the hill in the direction of their terraces. You can see wood neatly stacked in “airing” piles in preparation for winter use.

Make sure you have your camera with you as the views out over the terraces, the village and onwards to the ocean are breath-taking, often framed by a twisted branch of a pine tree or the army-camouflage of the Eucalyptus trunks.

This short walk is well worth doing to take home views and vistas of Arco da Calheta.

If you venture past the end of the Arc the walk becomes much more challenging in terms of steep drop-offs. There are however, hand rails to aid balance. There are simple rules to remember when you are walking levadas that present “drop-challenges”; get IN the levada. Your boots will dry and you will be safe!

Most tourists have heard of the levada walking, the trails and tracks that run beside the narrow canal system for moving water around the island to areas of agriculture. Many will not want to do the longer more challenging walks; this one offers the opportunity to experience a levada walk without any of the challenges! If you get hooked? There are lots of organisations offering accompanied walks. Enjoy our island.

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Source by Jaz Chappell