UK Caving

WHERE THE CAVES ARE - The Caving Regions => Rest of The World => UK Lava Tube Group => Topic started by: mrodoc on September 11, 2010, 12:01:15 pm

Title: Madeira
Post by: mrodoc on September 11, 2010, 12:01:15 pm
Anybody have any hard information, GPS locations, descriptions etc on the lava tubes of Madeira. We have visited the show cave tubes at Sao Vicente but wondered if anybody had information on any other locations on the island.
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: mrodoc on September 12, 2010, 07:15:09 pm
Seems as if I will need to cast the net wider. Suggests few UK cavers have been there.
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: mrodoc on September 18, 2010, 03:56:01 pm
Surely somebody must know something about lava tubes on Madeira!
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: Les W on September 18, 2010, 04:34:14 pm
Andy Morse may know a bit but he doesn't get on here much.
I'll PM you some contact stuff.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: Gareth Davies on June 11, 2014, 08:59:04 am

Did you find any information or visit any? I'll be there in 6 weeks on a family holiday & I'm looking for things to entertain myself.

cheers, g.
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: mrodoc on June 12, 2014, 08:31:30 am
There is an interesting lava show cave on the opposite side of the island to Funchal = near the end of the long tunnel under the mountains at Sao Vicente I think it is called. There are also some wild tubes to the east of Funchal that I found a reference to but didn't identify an entrance. There are plenty of tunnels the levadas go through as well!
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: ptpeaty on March 06, 2016, 07:42:47 pm
I am going out to Madeira in May and wondered if you turned up any information on lava tubes out there? I know about the Sao Vincente lava tube but wondered if there was any wild stuff to visit.
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: Allan on March 06, 2016, 09:39:12 pm
I spent a week there the other year, before visiting I asked a Portuguese speaking member of my club to try and find anything out, they had no luck.  Speaking to one of the guides in the show cave, they said there were a few short lava tubes, that is self evident as you drive round the island.
I can recommend the Levada walks and tunnels, some of the tunnels are nearly a mile long, the headroom is variable so a helmet and light is advised.
Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: Bob Mehew on March 06, 2016, 10:42:29 pm
We have just come back this weekend having looked and failed to find Cavalum tubes (Furnas do Cavalum), see (  (Our primary reason for the trip was to look at the geology of the island.)  We found a geocache web site at ( which gave one location with coordinates N32° 43.709' W16° 45.859'.  That took us to a levada and a 'rock shelter' – not a sign of flow, just possibly a steam explosion in a basalt flow over a blocky ash layer.  We found a second 'rock shelter' just around the corner from the first.  Neither looked anything like photos of tubes and environs provided in geocache web site and elsewhere which show low crawls.  The land around this location was all cultivated and did not seem likely to have 4 tubes but we did not crawl over the land.

Our map indicated an information point in Machico but we failed to find it as we drove through the place.  Perhaps the Funchal Natural History Museum might have a person able to answer the question though the translation might be a challenge.

Vincente tubes are just about worth a trip, thought why they had to put a dam in to create a lake mystified me, (possibly the reason was lost in translation.)  The newish display center is worth going to (it came at the end of the tour) with a 3D film which was curious in parts. 

I have heard a claim for some other tubes on the island but have no details.  There is an expressed concern over damage to the environment of the tubes killing off cave adapted millipedes so perhaps there is a reluctance to publicise locations.   

Another curiosity is the limestone quarry near by Vincente tubes at roughly N32° 47.834' W17° 01.360' with some good fossils but no caves!  (Apparently it was a fossil coral bed lifted up at some stage by an eruption.)

Otherwise levadas provide good walking though far from level as one might think.  Indeed the whole island is just one hillside at roughly 30 to 45 degrees.  I would recommend the Rother Walking Guide for Madeira.  Several have tunnels cut through hills which can be walked but a good torch and waterproofs are recommended.  Strangely one also seems to spend a lot of time in road tunnels, some 3km long.

The claim is one can use buses but we found a hire car gave much more flexibility (though we also got stung for mileage charges - only 35km/day free which can't even get you to and from the airport). 

PM me if you want more detail. 

Title: Re: Madeira
Post by: Robert Scott on March 07, 2016, 06:35:00 pm
Not about lava tubes but just about walking.
Last December, we managed to get to and return from all of our Levada walks bar one by bus. For the exception we took the bus to Ponta Do Sol then took a taxi (8 euros) up to the start of the walk.
The previous December, all walks were started and finished by bus. For a non-levada walk I'd recommend the walk from Boca da Encumeada (where the road from Ribeira Brava to Sao Vicente crosses the main ridge) to Faja dos Cardos in the Curral das Freiras valley
Another tip (albeit an obvious one) about the walks and public transport is to sometimes ignore the direction given by a guidebook and look for which end of the walk is better served by the buses.
Guidebooks. I use both Madeira Walks (Discovery Walking Guides) and Walking in Maderia (Cicerone) There is also The Unofficial Madeira Bus Guide published by Trevor Franks ( (