A Self-Drive Walking Tour in the Guadiana Grand Route (GR15), where you’ll find silent and impressive landscapes in a scarcely populated region. Enjoy independent nature walks and discover the traces of those who lived here for centuries.
The historic villages of Mértola and Alcoutim will be our base, as we follow the River Guadiana winding through the hills and lowlands.
The tour begins in Mértola, from where the river Guadiana is no longer navigable. This charming village, perched on a hill above the River Guadiana, in Alentejo, was once the capital of the then powerful Moorish empire. Today, Mértola is a “museum village”, where layers of history can be unveiled.
You’ll explore the village’s narrow streets, walk along the hills to contemplate the undulating plains, the quartzite elevations, and the valleys. By the riverbank, you’ll find a beach, a much welcome relief in hotter days.
The tour includes a trip to the abandoned mine of São Domingos. Eerie and enigmatic, the place is today left for the curiosity of random lone travellers and storks.
Following the river to the south, you reach the other base of our tour, Alcoutim, in the interior East Algarve. Although smaller than Mértola, this picturesque village was a major Phoenician port at the time.
Across the margin, we can see the neighbouring Spanish village of San Lucar, with whom Alcoutim shares a long history of trading and smuggling. Those memories are honoured by the smuggler’s statue, which can be seen at the dock in Alcoutim.
The Guadiana Valley Natural Park is a rich ecosystem. Habitat for numerous birds of prey and various passerine species, it’s abundant in cork tree woods, some oak woods, extensive cistus areas, and rain-fed plantations. The river is also home to more than twenty species of freshwater fish.
Along the days, you’ll discover interesting human scenery with small farming lands and windmills, in harmony with the natural environment. The wildlife here is exuberant, yet there is a sense of stillness in this unspoiled part of the territory, rich in heritage, history, and raw natural wonders.
To make the most of your Self-drive walking holiday in the lovely Guadiana Grand Route, try the delicious local food, based on simple and humble ingredients.
Bread baked in a wood-fired oven, fine olive oil, aromatic herbs, and delicacies from the river and the land, like the wild asparagus, the mushrooms, and “túberas” (truffles).
The wines are also superb. The slopes of the Guadiana River were for centuries terroir of excellence for local wine production.
For all these reasons, this is a tour not to be missed for the lovers of independent nature walks and authenticity!