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„This is where Europe ends. This is where Europe begins…“

Getting to know Portugal also means getting to know its culture and its climate, its people and its regional history. Situated in the mountain range of the same name, Monchique lies in the far southwestern corner of Portugal. Caldas de Monchique marks the starting point and the finishing point of our guided Monchique Mountain Hike.

On the first day guests make their own way by train to Portimão and on by bus to Caldas de Monchique (VAMUS, Line 94) to get to know the village and the accommodation (Orientation Day). The hiking guide, having lived and worked here for donkey’s years, welcomes the participants in several languages in Caldas. This one-week long distance hike is a loop trail covering some 50 km overall.

On day 2 the first stage leads from Caldas (251m above sea level) via Esgravatadouro (299m above sea level) to Fornalha (Part 1, six km). This is where a steep climb awaits (Part 2, five km) leading up to the summit of Picota (776m above sea level). At the half-way point walkers reach the hamlet of Corte Grande, with the hike continuing past the oldest cork oaks of the Algarve, their canopies offering the opportunity for a shady rest stop with picnic. On the way up to the summit of Picota, cloudless days offer up a panoramic view of the southwestern cape of Portugal (60 km away) with Faro visible 75 km to the southwest. Far away, both to the west and to the south, the horizon aligns with the sea. This is where Europe ends. This is where Europe begins. During our descent down to Monchique (Distance 3, five km) we meet an interesting botanic mix of chestnuts, cork oaks and strawberry trees, as well as a few fields that are still cultivated by local agriculture. So the first hiking day ends in Monchique. For the way back to our accommodation in Caldas we board the scheduled 94 service at 5.30pm (16 km in total).

Day 3 Rest Day, (optional activity: visiting the olive mill in Pardieros, transfer by e-mobile)

 

On the fourth day, following our rest day in Caldas, we once more board the bus 94 from Caldas (9.34) up to Monchique. We take a coffee or tea. The second stretch leads from Monchique (450m above sea level) to the second, and highest, summit of the mountain range, up to Foía, at 902m above sea level (Part 4, five km). Our trail leads past the ruined convent, a striking presence above Monchique at 550m. Hiking uphill through eucalyptus forests, we reach a plateau, from which the trail carries on, still slightly uphill, through ferns, hawthorn bushes and fountains (sowing and harvesting water). This is where shepherds lead goats, sheep and cows to open pasture. After some two hours’ slow walking we reach Foía. In good weather this is our picnic spot: a meadow with sea view. In the event of rain let’s make a run for it to the restaurant on top of the summit. After that we take the path past the five wind power masts to Almarjão, in the direction of Marmelete (Part 5, ten km). A visit to the medronho museum, run by the Marmelete municipality, is a good choice for the afternoon of the second hiking day. This marks the gentle end to our hike, with the municipal bus taking us back to Caldas (15 km in total).

Day 5 Rest Day (optional activities: taking the waters, spa, massages and sauna)

On the sixth day, the small bus takes us from our accommodation to Almarjão. On the last hiking day we walk from Almarjão through the Vale de Figueiras downhill to Casais (Part 6, four km) and then through the valley to the Castelo de Nave (Part 7, three km) and past orchards back to Caldas de Monchique (Part 8, five km). In Caldas de Monchique we celebrate the end of our hiking week with a shared meal for our small group with a representative of the community, and a tree-planting ceremony to remember the hike by (12 km in total).

 

Monchique Mountain Long Distance Hike is a weekly readers’ trip organized by ECO123, always starting on a  Sunday, running from 5 November 2023 onwards all through the autumn and winter of 2023/24 through spring 2024 and always ending on a Saturday – and may be reserved on a weekly basis. Groups between 4 and 6 guests walk with one hiking guide; groups between 7 and 12 guests with two hiking guides.

For dates and prices contact theobald.tiger8550@gmail.com – or in writing: Tempo Passa Boa Viagem, Publicações e Marketing e Proteção da Natureza Lda. – CCI Esgravatadouro 216 Z – PT 8550-267 Monchique – telephone +351-918 818 108

 

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