This trail, which will let you discover the Lagoa dos Salgados, one of the most iconic wetlands in the Algarve for birdwatching, runs through a harmonious mosaic of habitats with a high ecological value.
At the Lagoa de Salgados, the dense beds of reeds and rushes hide a diverse birdlife. This coastal lagoon, fed by the Espiche river, is known for harbouring interesting species such as the ferruginous duck, the purple swamphen, the Eurasian spoonbill, the blackwinged stilt or the purple heron. Large flocks of flamingos, that use the lagoon for resting and feeding, are also a common sight.
The mouth of the Espiche River, with its intermittent connection with the sea, establishes the boundary between the municipalities of Albufeira and Silves and the Praia Grande and Praia dos Salgados. Follow along the long beach to the wooden walkway that crosses the dune system of Praia Grande.
Sandstones rises from these sands, a very ductile rock that serves as a witness to the existence of a fossil dune around 4000 years old. In the maritime slope of the dune you can observe plants such as the colourful sea daffodil and the spiny thrift. The dune crest is held in place by European beachgrass, and, further in, the undulating sandy expanse is dominated by the aromatic Helichrysum stoechas.
In the salt marsh of Pera, near the mouth of the Alcantarilha river, there are the typical communities of saline environments: rushes, halophytic scrub and saline Mediterranean meadows. You can frequently spot birds like the herring gull and the common blackheaded gull, and waders prodding the mud flats with their long beaks.
A patch of stone pines coats a fossil cliff. This rocky outcrop dates back to the Miocene and forms a shell-midden, with abundant marine fossils, e.g. oysters, sea urchins, and shark teeth.
In the Arab-inspired dryland orchards, now abandoned and taken over by beds of gorse, there are still some almond, carob and fig trees. Here you can see ancient mills and barns as a testament to the region’s agricultural past.
Location: Pera / Praia Grande
Type: walking and partly cycling
Circular trail: no
Distance: 5,2 km
Average duration: 2h
Cumulative elevation gain: 60 metres D+
Type of path: sand and dirt paths and wooden walkways
Start of the trail: 1 – 37º 06' 19.58'' N 8º 20' 20.90'' W / 1a – 37º 05' 44.04'' N 8º 20' 11.70'' W