The trail encompasses the typical habitats of Ria Formosa, affording the possibility of spotting marine species of birds.
Along the path between the salt marsh and the golf course, on the silt banks at low tide, you can watch the Uca tangeri fiddler crab busying around, as well as many species of waders (e.g. the pied avocet and the black-winged stilt) and, occasionally, fishermen catching bivalve molluscs. By the water, with an attentive eye, you can see one of the many of the river’s olheiros (freshwater upwelling) bubbling. Typical succulents can be seen here, adapted to the soaked saline soil. In drier land, the Limoniastrum monopetalum, a bush endemic to the south coast, displays its exuberant lilac flowering.
Underneath the stone pine groves there are plants like the mastic tree, the cistus, the sage-leaved rock-rose and aromatics like the thyme, the Spanish lavender and the Mediterranean dwarf palm, the only palm tree native to Europe. Birds like the azurewinged magpie or the Eurasian hoopoe are common and, with some luck, you may even be able to spot a chameleon, a reptile adapted to the Algarve’s coastal pine woods.
This freshwater lake, with its marshy vegetation (mainly cattails and reeds), is one of the most interesting places in Algarve for birdwatching. You can find the Western swamphen (symbol of the PNRF) and other rails, as well as ducks, herons, grebes, seagulls and common terns, among others. The observatory for birdwatching offers a good view over the lake. During the summer you might also see freshwater turtles native to Portugal: the Mediterranean pond turtle and the European pond turtle.
Here, with a backdrop of the large carob trees so common in the Mediterranean, you can see the ruins of fish salting tanks (cetárias), evidence of the Roman presence in the region. These tanks were used to make garum, a sauce made from the maceration of fish and crustaceans, much appreciated by the Romans.
Location: Quinta do Lago
Type: walking and cycling
Circular trail: no, linear
Distance: 3,3 km (there and back)
Average duration: 1h30m
Cumulative elevation gain: 55 metres D+
Type of path: dirt paths
Start of the trail: 37º 01' 41.76'' N 8º 01' 15.72'' W