Beautiful and unusually formed til trees (Ocotea foetens) give the enchanted Fanal Forest in Madeira its one-of-a-kind air of majesty. The high elevation causes thick fog to roll in, enveloping the area and giving the impression of being in a magical, otherworldly place. Remember to include the Fanal Forest in your Madeira backpacking itinerary after reading our comprehensive guide!
1. What is Madeira's Fanal Forest?
An old Laurisilva forest, the Fanal Forest is aesthetically pleasing and ecologically significant, which is why it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located near Ribeira da Janela, a northwest Madeira town.
The intertwining of the branches of the trees—some of which are more than 500 years old—with the almost magical fog creates a really magical woodland atmosphere.
The paths of Levada dos Cedros (PR14) and Vereda do Fanal (PR13) will allow you to experience the Fanal Forest to its fullest.
2. What Makes Fanal Forest Stand Out?
These unique woods flourish in areas with high humidity, moderate weather, and certain elevations, all of which are present over the islands of Macaronesia (usually 500 to 1400 meters above sea level).
The subtropical Pliocene woods are remarkably preserved by these towering trees, which may reach a height of 40 meters. Although these woods used to cover most of Madeira, their number has been drastically reduced due to the widespread cutting down of trees for agriculture, grazing, and the introduction of exotic species.
3. How To Reach Fanal Forest
Driving up several hilly roads is necessary to reach Fanal Forest, which is around 1,150 meters above sea level. The trip is enjoyable in and of itself, taking you down the island’s longest straight highways and the “scenic road,” perhaps the most beautiful section of asphalt in Madeira.
When you visit the small island of Madeira, you’ll see that Fanal Forest is its own little universe. Fog, rain, clouds, and wind create a peculiar environment here, even on days when the sun shines over the rest of the island. On the other hand, Fanal offers stunning ocean views on days when the weather is nice.
When you get to Fanal, the volcanic plateau may welcome you with friendly cows free to explore the verdant fields. The trailhead has a large, free parking lot to ensure a smooth exploration.
4. Exploring Fanal Forest
Unlike the usual Veredas and Levadas in Madeira, Fanal has more than one route. Alternatively, you may meander through this magical woodland along any one of a variety of walking trails. Indulge in this enchanting ambiance by picking the one that suits you best. Also, near the Fanal Forest, you should check out these two hiking paths:
PR13: The Fanal View
The Vereda do Fanal is a 10.8-kilometer one-way trek starting at E.R. 209 Assobiadores and ending in Fanal. The trail descends slightly from Asssorbiadores to Fanal, covering a distance of 290 meters in height.
Public Road 14 – Cedros Levada
After finishing Vereda do Fanal, you will find Levada dos Cedros. This trail begins with a dramatic valley descent and then continues mostly level along a water channel. The route stretches about 7.2 kilometers one way. It starts at Fanal and finishes in Curral Falso on the E.R. 209 road.
5. The Best Time To Visit the Fanal Forest
Any time of year is perfect for a visit to Madeira’s Fanal Forest. Even when the coast is clear, the alien ambiance is heightened by the constant fog caused by its altitude elevation.
We recommend going either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to immerse yourself in the experience. The entrancing fog may give this magical woodland its special allure. Although fog is common in Fanal, it is not guaranteed. It is important to remember that fog is a natural occurrence.
6. Essentials To Bring
Because the weather in Fanal is unpredictable, a raincoat is a must-have item. Parts of Fanal Forest may be muddy or damp, so wearing waterproof hiking shoes or boots is smart.
If you’re interested in photography, you may want to bring some extra lenses. Get ready for some fun since the fog can produce varied outcomes, whether you use a wide or telephoto lens.
7. Top Recommendations For A Visit To Madeira's Fanal Forest
While you’re in Madeira for the Fanal Forest, be sure to also visit the adjacent and stunning Vereda do Fanal (PR 13) and Levada dos Cedros (PR 13). While it’s unlikely that you’ll have time to do both tasks in a single day, it’s nevertheless important that you accomplish one.
Discover a way to record your route if the fog thickens and you must retrace your steps. Many routes lead out of Fanal Forest, so you won’t have trouble finding your way out.
Be sure to bring your camera; you’ll want to record the one-of-a-kind ambiance of the place. Take note of how fog impacts photographs; it’s a useful tip. Using a longer lens, such as 70mm, can allow you to capture thin fog in your images. To reduce the fog in the final shot, use a wider lens if the fog is thick. The area has no restaurants or cafés, so bring your own food and drink.