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by Sun’s Dragon
Walking, hiking or rambling, call it what you will, the sheer joy of being close to nature with all the beautiful scenery, flora and fauna found across the Algarve, is heaven.
The Algarve Way
The Algarve Way is a recently chartered 260km route for walkers, ranging from Alcoutim at the Spanish border to Cabo de São Vicente (Cape of St. Vincent) where Portugal’s Southern and Western coasts meet in a most dramatic fashion.
This walk has something for everyone: select which part of the route you want to take that will give you the most enjoyment. There are mountains to climb - not huge but interesting, rivers to ford and cliffs to negotiate, as well as rolling hills, deep hidden valleys and wide expanses of fields, terraces and heath land.
The Algarve is dotted with picturesque small villages and historic towns, a number of which are encountered along the way. None of the walk is coastal so you avoid all the tourist spots. Pure countryside, pure air and pure pleasure are the order of the day(s). You may find a local café along your route where you can enjoy some local Algarvean food and wine, simple but divine.
You will almost certainly come across a shepherd with his flock of sheep or goats somewhere along the way. You are bound to see quaint cottages with their walls tiled in colourful local tiles, bougainvillea vines draped across typical Portuguese villas and their fences. Everywhere is filled with a huge variety of colours and Jasmine and Frangipani add their gorgeous scents to the air.
Many of the local Cameras (councils) are marking walks in their areas, having realised that walking is popular with expatriates and tourists alike. Some local councils even provide guides. Outdated maps are being replaced and new maps are more frequently available. Choose a walk to suit you and your pace - to have a family outing or a serious hike.
In January and February the almond trees are in blossom and a fabulous sight to behold, the weather is usually perfect – cool but sunny – excellent for a ramble.
During March and April the countryside is a mass of spring flowers. The colourful orange and lemon groves add to the flavour and scents, while the clover abundantly covers the hillsides.
Through the summer the young olives are abundant on native trees, whilst during the autumn hikers will come across local farmers and villagers using long sticks to whack the branches to harvest young olives for brining.
There is an excellent Walking Trails guide, created by the Turismo de Algarve (Algarve tourist board). In addition to maps showing the trails, and information about trail markings, the guide also provides plenty of practical information. There is also information about the terrain in each area as well as lists of some of the flora and fauna to be found here.
There are various groups who meet once a week for a good walk along a planned route. From family walks to serious hikes, many of those participating take their dogs along too. Check your local shops or Junta de Freguesia for more information, as well as the local press (Portugal News, Algarve Resident, etc). Everybody is welcome to join in, so dig out your hiking boots (or sneakers) and start walking!
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