Hidden paradise in the rich Barrocal countryside
Fonte da Benémola and Rocha da Pena are protected nature conservation areas which support ecosystems of great ecological interest.
The 390 hectares which make up the Fonte da Benémola area, located between Querença and Tôr, preserve a diverse range of plant life not commonly found in the rest of the Algarve, as well as exclusive and diverse species of animal life which can best be seen by walking along the banks of the Menalva Stream.
Ash trees and willows peep through sugar cane and bramble hedges, providing a contrast to the Mediterranean vegetation on the slopes of the valley. The aquatic environment is also teeming in animal life, but the predominant animal in this restricted area, the otter, is rarely seen.
In the caves that thread their way through the area, there are two colonies of bats which enjoy protected status.
Between Benafim and Salir, with an area of more than 600 hectares and rising to a height of 479 metres, the craggy terrain of the Rocha da Pena site invites tourists to go for walks and is great for rock climbing.
There is a rocky massif where you can see a variety of rich plant life, with more than 390 species of plants, the most outstanding being a rare type of peony (Paeonia broteroi), St John’s Wort, wild orchids and scented French lavender.
Here, great birds of prey dominate: the Bonelli eagle, the common buzzard, and the eagle owl. Wild rabbits and hedgehogs also share the area with foxes, genets, Egyptian mongooses and small wild hogs.