The archipelago of the Madeira Islands is owned by Portugal and lies around 400km north of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and 520km from the African coast. It comprises of the islands of: Madeira, Porto Santo and Desertas and Selvagens. Madeira is by far the largest. The archipelago was discovered and settled by the Portuguese in 1420 at the start of the ‘Age of Discovery’. The main island of Madeira is wet in the north-west and dry in the south-east and as part of the development of the island’s agricultural base, a number of aqueducts (locally known as levadas) were constructed across the mountainous terrain. There are more than 2000 kilometres of these levadas which provide a remarkable network of pathways, adding considerably to the attraction of the island as a destination for hiking holidays. With its rugged interior, culminating at the summit of Pico Ruivo (1861m), enchanting laurel forest and stunning coastal scenery, Madeira is ideal for a week-long adventure.