WARNING: in order to reconcile the passage of walkers and the presence of livestock, it is necessary to temporarily close the swing gates that allow you to cross a property near Fóia. Click this link to see the image: we have marked with orange circles the points of interruption, which affects sector 11 and PR5 MCQ - Percurso Pedestre das Cascatas (Waterfalls Walking Path). The alternative route (orange dotted line) coincides with the road (red on the map) and does not involve a significant diversions. We will update this notice as soon as the crossing is re-established. Thank you and enjoy your walks!
(notice updated on 8 September 2022)
The path starts in Fóia – the highest point in the Algarve. From here, head east on the paved road and then turn left, following the old path to Fóia towards the Penedo do Buraco waterfall, past several chestnut trees.
Continue along the road until you reach the top, then follow the path on the right, passing Preto Gully and Cimalhadas, from where a beautiful panoramic view to the north can be enjoyed.
As you get back to the road once again at Cruz da Fóia, which overlooks Penedo do Buraco, turn off onto a dirt track on the right, going down towards Chilrão waterfall. This is the perfect place to take a break, as the next stretch will take you uphill towards Barbelote waterfall and the small village that it is named after.
This path will take you across old terraces where animals are still grazed to this day, until you circle back round to the path you were following previously, at Penedo do Buraco, which also intersects with the GR13 – Via Algarviana. Follow a narrow path next to the dam and head up to Fóia, where the path started.
» NATURAL HERITAGE
The Monchique mountain range is formed by outcrops of nepheline syenite. Often seen at higher altitudes, the presence of this rock makes the area very different from the rest of the Algarve region. An area with dramatic reliefs, it is made up of several deep valleys and gullies, rich in water lines covered with riparian galleries.
Fóia, where this route begins is also the highest point in the Algarve, at 902 metres.
The Monchique mountain range, which is part of the Natura 2000 Network, has Mediterranean features and a strong Atlantic influence, receiving the highest average rainfall in the region. These features make the area a geological and climatic “island”, with a huge diversity of plant life. The arboreal vegetation cover was once dominated by oak trees, the most notable of which is the Monchique oak (Quercus canariensis). Due to the influence of growing human settlement in these areas, the tree cover is now dominated by eucalyptus and pines, interspersed with patches of native cork oaks (Quercus suber), strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) and junipers (Juniperus turbinata).
Some rare and/or endemic plants can also be found in this region, for example the Pontic Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum), which is endemic to the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Monchique Thrifts (Armeria beirana subsp. Monchiquensis), the rare Epipactis lusitanica orchid, the rare Asplenium obovatum subsp. protobillotii fern, dewy pine (Drosophyllum lusitanicum) and white lavender (Lavandula viridis), which can only be found in the southern Alentejo and the Algarve uplands.
The vegetation is very diverse along the route, and is also home to a diversity of animals of which the following are particularly notable: foxes (Vulpes vulpes), wild boars (Sus scrofa), genets (Genetta genetta) and Egyptian mongooses (Herpestres ichneumon).
The following can be observed throughout the year:
Birds of prey can be spotted flying above the area, including: Bonelli's eagles (Aquila fasciata), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and short-toed snake eagles (Circaetus gallicus) in the spring and autumn months.
» “ROTA DAS ADELFEIRAS” (Pontic Rhododendron Route)
This short themed route is perfect for observing unique flowers that are of great value both to the landscape and from a conservation point of view, since they are relics of the vegetation that dominated the area several thousand years ago, when the climate in the Iberian Peninsula was subtropical. Of these, the rare and beautiful Pontic Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum subsp. baeticum), has remained here thanks to the unique microclimate and having been the target of conservation actions run by the Life-Relict project.
» THE WATERFALLS
Penedo do Buraco Waterfall (N37º19’24.83” W8º34’55.91”)
This seasonal waterfall is located 650 m above sea level, on the north-eastern side of Fóia, between chestnut groves and cultivated terraces. The waterfall gains its charm from the fact that it is located in a practically inaccessible boulder, exposed due to erosion, thus making it a privileged refuge for some species of birds to nest.
Chilrão Waterfall (N37º19’01.82” W8º37’08.06”)
The spring that leads to this waterfall is located in an area in which hornfels rock (dark coloured, dense, particularly hard rock) predominates. It then forms one of the “headwaters” of the Ribeira da Cerca (Stream), which runs through the entire western region of the municipality of Monchique until it reaches Amoreira beach, in Aljezur.
Next to Caminho Municipal (local road) 1067 there is a picnic area where you can enjoy the calm and beauty of the waterfall.
Barbelote Waterfall (N37º19’00.28” W8º34’46.76”)
This is one of the prettiest waterfalls in the municipality of Monchique, due, in large part, to its very particular geological features. Its basin is located in an area of fractured rock, and the upstream rocky heaps, or outcrops, that stand out from the landscape contribute immensely to this beauty. Located next to an old village with which it shares its name, the Barbelote waterfall is the most imposing of the waterfalls visited on this path due to the sheer size of the drop and volume of water. This is perhaps one of the greatest treasures of the Monchique mountain range.
Warning: Access to this waterfall is difficult and dangerous. Those visiting the waterfall shall be held entirely responsible for their own safety. Never try to visit the waterfall without the appropriate clothes, shoes and equipment.