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Discover Laurissilva

Have you ever imagined to be in a forest that existed before the appearance of man on earth? That is possible! The Laurel Forest has more than 15 million years and Madeira is the biggest stronghold of this type of forest that existed long before the first austrilopitecos arise in the face of the planet ... but that is not all ..... The Laurel Forest is extraordinarily beautiful!

Madeira’s natural heritage with its richness, diversity and state of preservation has been distinguished in the World. In 1999 UNESCO considered the Laurissilva Forest a World Natural Heritage Site. Its name, Laurissilva, results from two Latin terms, laurus and  silva, which means laurel and forest.

You can embark in the adventure of exploring the Laurel Forest by treking in accessible areas. There are many paths properly identified (see what do). Another suggestion we consider a “must do” is to enjoy a traditional picnic in the forest. There are beautiful places with good accessibilies.

It is also possible to visit this magical forest with more intensivelly and with more adrenaline: You can try to do canyoning, climb, abseiling or downhill ... No matter the  activity you choose, there is always a comun denominator... beauty .....

The Laurisilva of Madeira is an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type, which covered a large extent of Southern Europe 15-40 million years ago, now confined to Macaronesia, i.e. Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries and Capo Verde. Madeira has the largest area of this type of forest. It occupies an area of approximately 15.000 hectares, equivalent to 20% of the island, and it is located in the northern coast, between 300 and 1300 meters altitude and on the south coast it is restricted to some places of difficult access, between 700 and 1200 meters above the sea level.

Most of the forest is believed to have never been felled and there are some old massive trees which have been growing since before the island was discovered.

The Madeira Laurisilva contains a unique suite of plants and animals, including many endemic species.

In the forest, the predominate endemic trees belong to the Lauraceae family, such as Til Ocotea foetens, which’s fruits look like little acorns, on the stems and leaves the nerves are clearly visible. Laurel Laurus novocanariensis  is frequently accompanied by the fungi known as madre-de-louro. Barbusano Apollonias barbujana generally has leaves with galls from a specific insects.

Water is a constant presence in Laurisilva Forest, therefore it is also known as the “water producing forest”, since the union of its multiple components contributes to the hydrological balance which is essential to life in Madeira Island. It is responsible to a great extent for the collection of water from mists and from vertical precipitation.

Discovering Madeira has decided to support this natural treasure of Madeira island by allocating part of its profits, from the online booking made on our website, to enviromental and conservation projects of the Madeira Natural Park. Thus, when you book with us you are also sponsoring the Madeira Nature.

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