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#15 Levadas

Madeira has been in the back of my mind for many years. It was a place that intrigued me, but only at some subliminal level. It fits in well with my obsession / affinity for islands, but I never really had any realistic idea of going there. However, a few weeks before Christmas I was faced with an obligation to take two weeks vacation, without having any plan or any attractive destination in mind. One evening, having gone through the list of usual suspects, discarding things like northern Norway on grounds of “been there, done that”, “too cold / dark / miserable”, Madeira popped into my head. Two days later it was all sorted out, but then we had many other things to do, and by the time we finally made it to a terrifyingly early flight from Zurich two days before New Year, we were in fact totally unprepared for what was awaiting us.

It turns out that Madeira has a lot to offer. Away from the hotels clustered around Funchal is a steep, mountainous, thickly forested island criss-crossed by 1000km of aqueducts carved into precipitous cliff sides, known as levadas. The levadas an incredible feat of engineering dating back to the 16th Century, and making Madeira habitable. They continue to fulfil their original function of irrigation, to which power generation has been added. They also provide the basis for a fantastic network of trails.  Madeira, and the levadas, made an immediate and lasting impression on me. The next trip is already booked.

All photos taken handheld using the Olympus E-M5 MkII and m.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 lens.

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