Laurissilva of Madeira travel blog

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Laurissilva of Madeira nature photography

Enter Laurissilva in Madeira, a living relic from the Tertiary period, and be surrounded by a green mantle that has flourished for millions of years. This ancient forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the largest remaining area of a unique type of subtropical rainforest that once covered most of southern Europe.

Wander through Laurissilva, the Portuguese term for “laurel forest”, and you’ll quickly understand why it’s considered the green heart of Madeira. It covers an area of approximately 15,000 hectares and is located mainly in the northern and central part of the island. This forest is a botanical reserve. It is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to Madeira, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth.

The air here is clean and crisp, a breath of ancient times. The dominant trees are laurel, which gives the forest its name. Together with til, vinhático and the majestic mahogany from Madeira, they create a canopy that covers the sky in fifty shades of green. Below, the forest floor is covered with a tapestry of ferns, mosses and lichens. Each layer of greenery is a testimony to the original roots of the forest.

For a nature photographer, Laurissilva is an untouched paradise. The play of light through the leaves offers a dynamic range of contrasts. The mist that often settles on top of the canopy gives a mystical aura perfect for these ethereal shots. Bird lovers will also have something for themselves, as the forest is a symphony of bird calls. Species such as the Madeira comb and the trocaz pigeon live there.

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The Laurissilva is crisscrossed by a network of levadas, the traditional irrigation channels that are a feat of historical engineering. These levadas offer accessible paths for all levels of hikers, guiding you through the lush landscape. As you follow these waterways, keep an eye out for the unique spectacle of waterfalls that seem to emerge straight from the rock, feeding into the rich biodiversity of this forest.

One of the most accessible and rewarding levadas is the Levada do Caldeirão Verde, which will lead you to a stunning waterfall. For those seeking a more challenging route, the Levada dos Cedros offers a walk through less-traveled paths where the forest’s ancient spirit is most palpable.

Prepare for your journey into the Laurissilva with proper hiking gear. Madeira’s weather can be unpredictable, and the forest’s microclimate means that rain is common and paths can be slippery. A waterproof jacket, sturdy hiking boots, and a good map or guidebook are essential.

Conservation efforts are paramount to preserving this natural heritage. As you explore, stay on marked trails to minimize your impact and take only photographs, leaving behind nothing but footprints.

No matter who you are. Whether a naturalist, photographer, or simply a lover of untouched nature, Laurissilva in Madeira invites you to step back in time. This is a place where the hustle and bustle of modern life is forgotten. You remain in the embrace of an ancient world, breathing in the legacy of Earth’s long history. So come and tread quietly in this primeval forest. Carry with you the stories that whisper with every rustle of timeless leaves.

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Laurissilva of Madeira island

Laurissilva of Madeira photo blog

Laurissilva of Madeira

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