The Descoberta Trail is a circular Great Route (GR23), located in the Serra do Caldeirão.
This GR goes through the villages of Casas Baixas, Feiteira and Mealha. You can opt to do different stretches of the GR23, which connect these three villages, or do the whole trail. These three villages have support infrastructure to host hikers, the Rural World Discovery Centres (renovated primary schools), which you can book in advance, so you have more time to get to know the population’s way of life and explore local heritage.
The landscape is marked by an extensive mass of round-shaped schist, interspersed by streams, some of which temporary. In this Great Route you will cross two of the main tributaries of the Guadiana River’s left bank, the Foupana and Odeleite rivers.
The vegetation is dominated by cistus, as the soil was once intensely used to grow cereal. Nowadays the agriculture is mainly one of subsistence, and there are also afforestation projects (pines and holm oaks) and orchard plantations, especially cork oak and strawberry trees. In some places there are still groves of holm and cork oaks, some growing into forests. Strawberry trees, cistus, tree heath and others grow under the trees.
This is made possible by the absence of agricultural or animal husbandry activities.
As a result of low human activity and the natural conditions of the ground vegetation, this territory is particularly suitable for birdwatching, namely birds of prey like the Bonelli’s eagle, the short-toed snake eagle, or the eagle-owl, not to mention a diverse community of passerine birds.
The built heritage along this route is especially interesting and diverse. The natural architecture of the Algarve's mountains is a living testament of the past, preserving the authenticity and uniqueness of these villages with features such as norias, dry-stone walls, traditional hay sheds, stepping stones to cross the rivers, and old windmills.
Location: the Algarve
Type of Trail: walking and cycling. Circular
Distance: 45 km
Average duration: trail divided into 3 stretches of 12 km, 16 km and 17 km. The duration of each stretch ranges from 4 to 8 hours