The third sector of the Via Algarviana begins in Furnazinhas. Once you’ve walked through the village, heading north, the route will take you through a rugged landscape with areas of clear land, pastures, lots of rockrose bushes and, occasionally, small vegetable gardens still used by the locals. The relief here is rugged, the land intersected by several small watercourses. Occasionally, you’ll come across groves of maritime pines.
Hikers will find small settlements along the route, some of which are now almost completely uninhabited, such as Monte Novo, located next to the municipal road and at one of the highest altitudes in the area (215 m). The next settlement you’ll come across is Monte das Preguiças, where you’ll find a table with benches near a small dam – the perfect place to stop and take in excellent views over the region.
Make sure to note some of the traditional upland houses as you walk through Malfrades.
From here, the route heads towards Vaqueiros past small subsistence gardens, in an area dominated by stone pines. Make the most of the high point where you’ll find the fire lookout tower to enjoy a 360º panoramic view and make a short stop.
The path continues with some ascents and descents until it meets the PR8 ACT – In search of the Enchanted Valley Path on the EM 505 road, the two converging for the last 3 km of this sector. You’ll find the Fonte da Parra picnic park upon reaching the Vaqueiros Dam, a location perfect for enjoying the view and for a small snack as you near the end of this sector. The dam serves as a backdrop to the remainder of this part of the route, with Vaqueiros soon coming into view.
Vaqueiros is the civil parish seat and is its most populated village. Built over a Moorish hamlet, this is the civil parish with the largest number of settlements in the municipality of Alcoutim, its place names attesting to the ancient rural communities that would have existed here at the time of the Moors. Many Roman archaeological remains have also been found here and have been linked to mining operations. Many of the inhabitants have their own vegetable gardens where they grow what they need throughout the year, their land serving as their “supermarket” and saving them trips into the city.
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
Holm (Quercus rotundifolia) and cork oak (Quercus suber) groves are also notable in this sector. Here you will come across some watercourses with rich riverside vegetation, including oleanders, willows and ash trees.
Dozens of species of birds can also be spotted here, some of which live here year-round including Dartford warblers (Sylvia undata) and buzzards (Buteo buteo), as well as golden orioles (Oriolus oriolus) and bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) 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.
» CASH MACHINE
No cash machines are available in this sector.