The second sector of the Via Algarviana starts in Balurcos, a small hamlet in the municipality of Alcoutim. From the centre, the route heads south down country paths, many of which are flanked by drystone walls that fence off small properties still used for subsistence farming.
Though the start of the route is not very hilly, it soon begins to reveal the typical features of the Algarve uplands, cut through with gullies carved out by streams. Once you’ve walked by the IC-27 road, the landscape changes, signalling the presence of the Foupana Stream, the main watercourse in this region and one of the best-preserved in the entire Algarve.
As you walk through Palmeira you’ll once again be able to spot traditional rural architecture. Of particular note are the typical wood-fired ovens, whitewashed houses and the gardens hemmed in by drystone walls. The landscape alternates between forested areas and areas densely covered in rockrose bushes and, before you know it, the Via Algarviana will have reached Foupana, arriving at the ruins of the old “Moinho da Rocha do Corvo” water mill. Despite its undeniable historic importance, nowadays it’s nothing more than a collection of ruins.
Rise to the challenge of crossing the stream, its banks providing an excellent opportunity to rest and have a snack, but do be very careful if you decide to wade across, as the volume of water can rise dramatically following heavy periods of rain, making it impassable and dangerous.
You’ll come to the steepest, longest climb in this sector after crossing the stream. Enjoy the scenery, which is made up of a holm oak forest with the highest density of shrub cover you’ll see until you reach Corte Velha, another upland hamlet. Farming and grazing are still ongoing activities in these areas, which is why the landscape bears traces of cereal farming and land used for grazing.
You’ll be able to spot several windmills on the horizon, which have all now been abandoned and lie in ruins. You’ll see some threshing floors too, circular constructions in windy spots, which have generally been carefully preserved since they serve an important purpose: separating the grain (cereal, lupin beans, chickpeas) from the straw or chaff.
The route then reaches a water tank at the top of a hill, providing a privileged view over Furnazinhas. Go down a stone ramp and then down Rua do Fontanário to the EM 505, the main road into Furnazinhas. It is in this beautiful mountain hamlet that the second sector of the Via Algarviana comes to an end. A very well-preserved settlement, Furnazinhas has managed to keep many of the cultural traditions of the rural Algarve alive, which are sure to leave their mark on your memory.
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
One of the best-preserved streams in the Algarve is the Foupana Stream, with its rich riverside vegetation made up of ash, willow and oleander trees.
The Odeleite Stream never dries up and is also home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, providing uniquely beautiful panoramas.
Special attention should also be paid to the holm (Quercus rotundifolia) and cork oak (Quercus suber) groves in this sector. These make up the habitats of several mammals such as cape hares (Lepus capensis) and European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which you may even spot, as well as wild boars (Sus scrofa) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes), which are harder to see.
Dozens of species of birds can also be spotted here, specifically Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) and Dartford warblers (Sylvia undata), short-toed snake eagles (Circaetus gallicus) and rufous-tailed scrub robins (Cercothricas galactotes), which can only be spotted in spring.
REST STOPS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE ROUTE
The only cafés or shops along this route are at the beginning and end. As such, walkers are advised to plan ahead, taking enough food and water with them, taking into account the distance they intend to walk, the weather and the degree of difficulty of the route.
No cash machines are available in this sector.
More information: Vamus Algarve