This mountain hike will let you discover the typical montes of Lower Guadiana (dispersed settlements), an old copper mine and the pluvial streams typical of this territory.
Between Vaqueiros and Ferrarias, there are frequent examples of the region’s traditional architecture: waterwheels that retain their mills and their buckets, schist houses, chimneys with typical tracery and dry stone walls flanking pathways. Crossing the Barranco das Hortas between willows, cattails, brambles and pennyroyal, there is a covered well, suggestive of the proximity to the Baixo Alentejo.
The Cova dos Mouros mine is located in the vicinity of the Chalcolithic village of Santa Justa, about 20 km from embarkation points in Alcoutim. It is a copper mine with vestiges of use from Chalcolithic to Roman times. Modern extractive activity occurred in the middle of the 19th century; you can see a main shaft, 30 m in depth, where copper minerals were extracted from the greywacke of the Mértola Formation.
The trail follows a ridge from where you can see the valley of the river Foupana, and then crosses then the confluence of the streams of Foupanilha and Foupana. The landscape is steep, with the water cutting large slabs of greywacke. Amongst tamarisks, tamujos (Flueggea tinctoria), oleanders, rose bushes and willow curtains, there are water snakes, tortoises, frogs, fish, and a great diversity of insects, especially dragonflies.
Up to Pão Duro, and back to Vaqueiros, the panoramic views unveil the territory in all its extent, marked by a high schist plateau located between the streams of Foupana and Odeleite, and cut by innumerable deep ravines. On the shady slopes grow forests of holm oak, cork oak and arbutus, alongside Mediterranean scrubs with cistus, poplar-leaved cistus, Montpellier cistus, broom, gorse, mastic and Spanish lavender. Partridges, hares, rabbits, wild boars and foxes, or their traces, can occasionally be observed.
Type: walking and cycling
Circular trail: yes
Distance: 12,8 km
Average duration: 4h
Cumulative elevation gain: 477 metres D+
Type of path: dirt paths and asphalt roads
Start of the trail: 37º 23' 01.61'' N 7º 43' 37.41'' W