Off to Tavira
First I spend a week in Tavira, the so-called Venice of the Algarve. Our friendly young transfer driver Jó picks me up at the airport and as we drive through the countryside, I ask what grows there: olives, figs, cherries, oranges and “alfarroba” (carob trees), something very typical here.
This is used to produce flour for pastries and cattle feed.
On the first evening I dine in the hotel restaurant on the roof terrace, where I am overwhelmed by the view of the place and the lagoon. First a pate with green fish cream, then grilled prawns on salad and later a fresh tuna steak is served.
Wow! This is anything but alpine hut food. I get a delicious fruit salad for dessert.
The first impression of the Algarve
To explore the new Eurohike location trip in the Algarve, I first borrow a bike. During the tour I have to deal with high temperatures, dust-dry air and somewhat bumpy dirt roads.
But the sight of the colourful salt basins, palm trees, cacti, orange groves, waterfowl and lagoon make up for everything. It is wonderful!
The first tour takes me to Cacela Velha, a tiny place with only a few whitewashed houses. The view of the island and the lagoon reminds me a lot of "Paradise Beach", a beach like in the Caribbean! Let's head over the sand. This is a bit strange at first, but I immediately find out that it is easier to walk barefoot on the water's edge than in the dry sand. So I am able to greet the many little crabs and admire the colourful fishing boats.
Discover new hiking trails in the Algarve
The next few days I explore the south coast to the Spanish border. A few times I take the bike on the train. The little train on the "Linha do Algarve" travels through picturesque landscapes and the fares are cheap (compared to the ones at home). The friendly conductor sells the tickets and helps me lift the bike over the hatch into the transport wagon. The train is not modern, but it is always on time and reliable.
The paths lead through small fishing villages and through the countryside, where I come across numerous goats. There are lemons, oranges and apricots everywhere along the way, so I can help myself.
Waterfall Pego do Inferno
A somewhat adventurous descent to the Pego do Inferno waterfall leads me to a magical place. Well hidden in a ravine is a small freshwater lake with a waterfall. All around are palm trees, ferns and colourful flowers. Fish cavort in the crystal-clear water. Like in a picture book! Of course, I have to cool off here.
Old town Tavira
I walk gently up and down towards Tavira through lonely land, fields, courtyards, country houses, stone walls and gravel roads. A couple of lizards keep me company. I stroll through Tavira's old town up to the small fort and St. James' Church. There is a flower garden there and I climb the city walls to take in the views of the lagoon, river and island. At the Roman Bridge I go over the river Gilao.
Also noteworthy is the excursion to Barril Beach on the island of Tavira. To do this, I cross the lagoon that separates the island and the mainland and I'm in the Ria Formosa Nature Park, a huge nature reserve spanning over 60km of coastline.
Most of the offshore islands can only be reached by boat. But there is a small pedestrian bridge in Santa Luzia. A short commuter train.
After leaving the beach bars and parasol region behind me, it gets lonely. The cemetery of anchors is speaks of former tuna fishermen who now live from tourism. I am walking on the beach. It's five kilometres to the northern end of the island. There I find tons of shells in every shape and colour. Later I climb the dunes to look at the protected part of the landscape from above. I see a sea of purple and white flowers and the lighthouse greets me in the distance. Before I take the boat back to Tavira, I jump once into the Atlantic. The water temperature is around 17 degrees. Wonderfully refreshing.
Year-round hiking possible
In fact, the south coast of Portugal is incredibly dry and hot in summer. But in winter, autumn and especially in spring the Algarve is colourful and fresh. That is why year-round hiking tours are possible. In spring the typical jacaranda trees with their large purple flowers and the small cactus blossoms bloom, for the olive and orange harvest you are in the right place in winter and fresh almonds and carob are available in autumn.
Apart from basic fitness, the hikes do not require any mountaineering skills.
Instead of green alpine pastures, the Algarve has turquoise-blue water, instead of grey limestone there is golden-yellow sandy beach, instead of ptarmigan, flamingos and instead of damp, foggy grey, colourful fishing boats, flowers and salt basins. For those who love the exotic and colourful, I can highly recommend the new tour in the Algarve.
Now another travel project in the Algarve is waiting for me. But I'll tell you about it another time.