Extending over an area of 397 hectares, the Protected Local Landscape of Fonte da Benémola, in the inland part of the municipality of Loulé (Querença, Tôr, Benafim) is a place of rare beauty.
Located in the heart of the transitional part of the Algarve known as the “barrocal”, this area is crossed by the Menalva Stream, fed by springs that allow it to have water all year round, thereby providing shelter to many different varieties of animals and plants.
Over 300 species of plants can be seen here, including bushes (including rosemary, French lavender, flax-leaved daphne, thyme, mastic, rock rose, kermes oak, myrtle and strawberry trees), as well as taller trees (such as carob, wild olive and cork oak) and riverine species (including willow, ash, poplar and oleander). It is also worth noting that various species of wild orchids grow here.
The dense vegetation of Fonte da Benémola is home to a vast array of bird. It is estimated that more than 100 species can be seen here, including kingfishers, grey herons, little egrets, hoopoes, bee-eaters and nightingales.
A variety of aquatic and amphibian species can be seen alongside or in the stream, including fish, turtles, salamanders, newts and toads. And although they are not always easy to see, otters can sometimes be spotted too.
Since water is the site’s most valuable asset, it is also interesting to note all of the built heritage connected to this treasure, such as mills, irrigation channels, weirs and norias.
Get your senses ready to take in all of the beauty of this site and follow the signposted trails alongside the stream, which will take you on a 4.5-km-long circular walk (“Fonte da Benémola” Route).