The sea, the cliffs and dunes, the coastal plateau and the humid zones support characteristic forms of vegetal and animal life. Most of the different types of seaweeds registered in Portugal come from this area and the fauna is extremely rich. The sea provides food to a large number of birds, for example the fish-hawk, and mammals like the otter. The cliffs are also the natural habitat for a large number of birds like the white stork, the Bonelli hawk and the snowy egret.
The Rota Vicentina is a pedestrian route of 350km, fully marked and divided into stages ranging between 15 and 25 km and can be covered in both directions during most of the year in full autonomy and security. Each stage corresponds to a day of hiking, connecting locations with offer of accommodation, food and other useful services for the hiker. There are two possible routes: the Historical Way and the Rail of the Fisherman.
The rivers and streams tear this plateau with deep valleys whose slopes show almost untouched Mediterranean scrubland. Continuing inland, you reach the mountains, rock wrinkles formed in the continental shocks. The forests of oak and pine trees and rocky outcrops dominate the mountains, populated by large birds of prey and nocturnal carnivorous.
The South West of Portugal has one of the best climates in the world and has been so for thousands of years … the proof of this is the fact that this region was a haven for many flora and fauna species during the last ice ages. Many of these species are around until today, with the nearest populations hundreds of miles away. There is also in the Portuguese Southwest many endemic species, in other words, that do not occur anywhere else in the world.
Winters are short and are never very cold but offer enough rain to fertilize the earth for the nine months when the sun is king. The harmony lived by the nature and man, from pre-history, reflects in full diversity of habitats.
You can explore the rocks left exposed at low tide (with starfish, sea urchins, barnacles and shells …), the cliffs (where nesting storks, hawks, swallows, crows, redstarts …), the dunes (with plants rare and endemic, other aromatic and medicinal …), the mouths of rivers and streams (where they breed fish and shellfish), coastal plains (where observed migration of thousands of birds in the autumn, including large soaring) temporary ponds (home to prehistoric crustaceans and almost all amphibians that occur in Portugal), the enclosed valleys (with Portuguese oak, lianas and colored berries bushes), the clear water streams (where the otter is queen) forests of pines and oaks (where boars abound and can pick mushrooms and wild asparagus), but also environments modified by man but where biodiversity is remarkable – mounted, meadows, orchards, olive groves …
Via Algarviana is a Great Pedestrian Route (GR13) connecting Alcoutim to Cape St Vincent, with a length of 300km, mostly installed in the Algarve mountains. It is intended that may be part of the Trans-European routes, by binding to E4 and E9. The route crosses 11 municipalities in the Algarve (Alcoutim, Aljezur, Castro Marim, Tavira, S. Brás, Loulé, Silves, Monchique, Lagos, Portimão and Vila do Bispo) and about 21 parishes, and in 2 of the municipalities there are links to the main route. In each parish, there was a concern to bring the way of the major places of natural and cultural interest, as well as accommodation and food services, including rural tourism projects, typical villages of the Algarve interior, etc.
In addition to its intrinsic value, Via Algarviana can also be considered the “spine-backbone ‘of a network of walking routes in the Algarve, which supplement and create several alternatives suited to the tastes and abilities of walkers. In this sense, all the paths that intersect with the route of Via Algarviana are disclosed and identified in the field as well as those that bind to this. The route will be segmented into sections up to 30km, which have an interpretive record and information available on the site. It is intended to disclose anything related to the natural and cultural heritage, as well as lodging, restaurants, support services, etc.
Goose Neck Barnacle
Barnacles abound in the Vicentine Coast, but are not always easy to catch due to the hard to reach places where they are. The shellfish descend the cliffs to catch them, which is extremely dangerous, given the inclination of the same. Sometimes your life depends on the fellow that sits on top, with the safety rope to catch barnacles on the rocks, thus exposing their lives in constant danger. It is regarded as one of the safest seafood in terms of quality and conservation.
Barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes), family of crustaceans is a major seafood in the economy and local cuisine. Many shellfish gatherers are dedicated to harvesting and professional marketing of seafood. Being an ancestral activity of great importance must be preserved and seeking sustainable ways to maintain a natural resource on which many families depend on the county.
In Vila do Bispo takes place every year the Barnacle Festival during late August and early September.