The seventh sector of the Via Algarviana starts in Salir, which is mid-way along the EN124 road, where the castle ruins are the village’s most notable historical element.
The route, often flanked by old drystone walls, which are still used to fence off vegetable gardens and rural properties, takes you through several settlements, such as: Almarginho, Cerro de Baixo and Cerro de Cima.
Several norias and other hydraulic devices make up some of the highlights along the route, remnants of the intense farming operations conducted here in the past.
The Protected Local Landscape of Rocha da Pena can be admired for most of the first half of this sector; a strong presence in the landscape, standing at 479 metres high, it is also home to about 535 species of flora and many other species of fauna. The famous legend of Gil da Pena still lingers here! We challenge you to try to get one of the locals to tell you the famous tale. Will you rise to the challenge?
The itinerary will take you through Benafim, a village which has maintained the traditional architecture of its houses and narrow streets. Take a break at one of the local cafés.
From there, the route heads north, through dryland orchards characteristic of the Algarve Barrocal, to the Freixo Stream, where it heads west. Farming operations and animals grazing still make their mark on the landscape, having once been significant contributors to the region’s economy.
The sector ends up following Alte Stream, where the songs of the many passerines will be the sweetest music to your ears! You will then arrive at the Big and Small Fountains, a very pleasant area to rest in, its unparalleled beauty almost demanding that you take a picture to remember it by.
Further on you’ll reach the centre of Alte, one of the most typical and beautiful villages in the region. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly through the streets and alleys of this village, taking the opportunity to pop into the small local shops. Everything in Alte has a typical, genuine air about it!
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
You’ll also be able to spot some species of orchids in this sector, including: bee orchid (Ophrys apifera); yellow bee orchid (Ophrys lutea); mirror orchid (Ophrys speculum) and naked man orchid (Orchis italica). Also noteworthy is an extremely beautiful plant that blooms in the spring and is sure to leave its mark: a local species of Western Iberian Peony (Paeonia broteroi).
The Protected Local Landscape of Rocha da Pena, which will be visible along the route, is an extraordinarily beautiful geological monument rich in caves and escarpments, rising to an altitude of 479 metres. About 535 species of flora can be found here, some of which are endemic, while many others are medicinal and aromatic. Also of note are many species of highly important fauna, specifically the common bent-wing bat (Miniopterus schreibersii) and lesser mouse-eared bat (Myotis blythi), which are classed as vulnerable and critically endangered respectively.
The dryland orchards mark the landscape in this sector, always fenced in by drystone walls, where carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua), olive trees (Olea europaea), almond trees (Prunus dulcis) and fig trees (Ficus carica) are grown, the four of which once made up the backbone of the Algarve’s traditional economy, but which, unfortunately, have since been abandoned.
Several migratory bird species, such as the oriole (Oriolus oriolus), the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) and the woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) nest here, while the azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyana) is a resident species.
The Big and Small Fountains in Alte are a must-see location, their welcoming greenery inviting you in for a rest. This is a very popular place due to its natural water pool, which was built in the 1980s and has since become the most popular feature of this upland village in the summer months.
The famous Vigário Waterfall is also well worth a visit, its striking beauty sure to surprise you! This pleasant location is the perfect place in which to rest, relax, and, if it’s warm enough, to take a dip.
REST STOPS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE ROUTE
More information: Vamus Algarve