Rocha da Pena is a prominent rocky outcrop of the Algarve’s Barrocal. Its particular orography gives rise to an impressive diversity of fauna and flora in a relatively small area.
A mixed woodland of carob, wild olive and holm oak trees covers the outcrop; incredibly rare plants grow here, like the Doronicum tournefortii (under the holm oaks), or the Narcissus calcícola and the Bellevalia hackelii in open ground.
From here you can see the grooved landscape of Serra do Caldeirão to the north. Nearby you can find the Algar dos Mouros, one of the biggest karst galleries of the Algarve. The legends say the moors took shelter here during the reconquest of Salir, by D. Paio Peres Correia, in the middle of the 13th century. Nowadays the galleries are inhabited by the common bent-wing bat and the lesser mouse-eared bat. Their colonies are an important assent in preserving these endangered species.
The plateau is covered in endemic scrublands of juniper and kermes oak; in the clearings you can see aromatic flowers such as lavender, rosemary, fennel and thyme, and the holes made by boars digging for roots and tubers. The path here crosses with two interesting stone walls, dated to the Iron Age.
In Talefe, at 479 metres of altitude, you can see the soft contours of the Barrocal stretch out towards the sea. If you’re in luck you may be able to spot birds of prey, some of which just passing through on their migrations, like the griffon vulture, the booted eagle or Bonelli’s eagle; and others, resident in the area , like the common buzzard and the eagle owl.
The way down goes through the traditional village of Penina, and from then on, as you head to Rocha, you will have a good view of the south-facing bluffs.
Location: Rocha da Pena
Circular trail: yes
Distance: 6,4 km
Average duration: 2h
Cumulative elevation gain: 275 metres D+
Type of path: somewhat rocky dirt paths
Start of the trail: 37º 15' 01.15'' N 8º 05' 52.53'' W