Based in the historic town of Tavira, this walking trip combines scenic coastal and inland walking. The relaxed walks take you through picturesque villages and traditional fishing communities, past orchards, into the rolling Barrocal Hills and along unspoilt sandbank islands. Tavira - Enjoy time in this ancient Moorish town, exploring the colourful cobbled streets Portuguese food and drink - Savour the local Cataplana dish accompanied by a glass of crisp wine Rio Formosa Estuarine National Park - Walk along protected coastal and bird habitats
Our trip starts in the delightful town of Tavira. Our welcoming hotel is within walking distance of the old centre, restaurants and bars. Its location offers great views over the town and river from the rooftop bar and outside pool area. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Tavira at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at Faro Airport (FAO) which is around 30 minutes' drive. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, our hotel is the prefect base from which to explore the cobbled streets on foot discovering the pretty tiled houses and there are plentiful alfresco dining options.
Today we explore the Tavira coast, walking through the old town out to the pier to take a one-and-a-half hour boat tour. This gives us a great introduction to the scenery, lifestyle in Algarve and Tavira and surrounding waterways. The boat will dock at Tavira Island where we begin today's walk. Tavira island forms part of Rio Formosa Estuarine National Park, a long strip of salt marshes and lagoons stretching from Faro to the Spanish Border. We walk along the unspoiled beaches, observing the wetland ecosystem and coastal habitats, past; mudflats, sea rushes and the native curry plant (with yellow flowers that smells like curry powder!) The area is a paradise for birdwatches and we'll see flamingos feeding in the shallow water. Our walk continues along the beautiful Praia dos Barrills, a long white sandy beach backed by sand dunes. The most noticeable and unique feature of this beach is the anchor 'graveyard'. Dozens of anchors have been planted in the dunes, an eerie reminder of the regions once thriving tuna fishing industry. The fishermen huts have now been converted into cafes, restaurants and shops. From Terra Estreita Beach we take boat back to the mainland, to the small fishing village of Santa Luzia from where we walk back to town. There will be time this afternoon time to explore more of Tavira. Take in the view up river from the seven-arched Roman Bridge, although actually Moorish in its origin, throughout the centuries the bridge has provided vital access across the River Gilao. Today's nine kilometre walk is expected to take approximately three hours with a total ascent and descent of 70 metres.
Today we drive (30 min) to the small village of Azinhal. We walk through gentle hills and low rising vegetation along the banks of Guadiana river (which marks the Spanish border) and on to the small old fashioned village of Odeleite. From Odeleite we drive south to San Antonio de Vila Real. We take some time here for a coffee overlooking the main square and stroll around the pedestrianized streets leading to the river, before travelling back to Tavira by train. Today's 13 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately four-and-a-half hours with a total ascent of 170 metres and descent of 205 metres.
Today we travel by taxis from Tavira to Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bpo in the Barrocal hills north west of Tavira. The Barrocal area is the Algarve's fertile farmland situated between the coastal strip and the mountains of the Serra. We'll follow a dirt track through cork oak woodland, olive groves and citrus orchards. In the springtime wildflowers cover the fields and in autumn the area becomes a haven for birds. Today we will enjoy a picnic lunch, getting supplies in Tavira before leaving. Tonight you could try a Cataplana, originating from southern Portugal this flavoursome dish combines a variety of seafood in an aromatic stew, cooked in a copper clam shaped pot. Today's 12 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately three-and-a-half hours with a total ascent and descent of 350 metres.
Today is a free day to relax on the local beaches or explore the region more. It is possible to take a more challenging walk along the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. Taking a taxi to Praia do Marinha and from here walking to Praia do Carvoeiro along the spectacular cliffs and coastline. At the end of the walk, you will take a boat trip to Benagil with amazing views into sea cut caves. For an interesting insight into Portuguese traditions you could attend a Fado performance, this 30 minute show starts with a film about the history of Fado, a Portuguese traditional song, followed by guitarists and a singer performing a range of Fado songs. The tour leader will be able to advice on the best location and timings. You could also visit the Camera Obscura, housed in an old water tower close to the castle. A rotating mirror on the roof of the tower projects a telescopic view of Tavira, the guide uses the image to point out key sights and explain the history and culture of the town. Today's optional 12 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately three-and-a-half hours.
This morning we take a short drive (30 mins) to São Brás de Alportel, the centre of the Algarve's cork production. We walk into the surrounding wooded hills past fig and olive trees and through the cork oak forests, learning about traditional production methods, there are still five operating cork factories in the area. Returning to Sao Bras there is time to stroll through the old town. Today's 12 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately three-and-a-half hours with a total ascent and descent of 350 metres.
This morning we take the train to Olhao. Olhao is the Algarve's largest fishing port; we'll visit the morning fish and vegetable market before taking the small local ferry to Culatra island (30 minutes). The sand bar island of Culatra in Ria Formosa National Park is home to a small fishing community living in a cluster of low built houses and cottages. With no cars or paved roads walking around the sparsely developed island feels like stepping back in time, we'll take the wooden walkway through the sand dune system and relax on the vast empty beaches. Culatra is known for its abundant wildlife, and is a prime spot for birdwatching with a variety of seabird species. We get the boat back to the mainland from the other side of the island at Ilha do Farol (lighthouse), and travel back to our hotel. Today's five kilometre walk is expected to take approximately one-and-a-half hours along a flat route.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Tavira. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Tavira at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Faro Airport (FAO) which is around 30 minutes' drive from the hotel.
7 Break Fast(s)
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