This laurel forest that dates back to the Tertiary consists of trees and bushes with evergreen leaves. For more or less 20 million years this dense, humid and subtropical forest was extended all over the Southern Europe and North Africa. Nowadays there it exists only in the Macaronesia Islands – Madeira Islands, Azores, Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands. The greatest and most protected area of laurel forest is located in Madeira.
The 15 thousand hectares of protected area are part of the Madeira Natural Park and since 1999 are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. The name Laurel Forest has its origin in the fact that the trees and bushes of which the forest is composed of are from the Lauraceae family, such as the Til, Bay Laurel, Persea Indica or the Canary Laurel. The trees capture the humidity brought by the northeast winds and it is here that the water flows that supply the island are located.
Some “levadas”, which are irrigation channels that take the water to the cultivation areas, flow through the middle of this rich and biologically diverse forest that covers the mountains, mainly in the interior and north of Madeira. The trails along the “levadas” allow the tourists to take a walk and enjoy the protected landscape and reveal another island, which resisted to five centuries of settlement and it remains wild and, at a certain point, impenetrable.
The waterfalls, the small ponds and streams that cross the laurel forest did arise the interest from canyoning fans. Some companies and clubs offer the experience of descending these water streams and feel the nature in a different way.