Between hills and oaks

A trip to an inland Algarve, shaped by mountains, cork forests and traditional villages, and yet so close to Faro and Loulé.

This tour starts at the south of Alportel, in a road to the right marked 'Almargem'. To get there, just drive for about 3 km north of Sao Bras de Alportel by EN2, Almodovar direction. As mentioned in another tour, it's a stretch recovered for tourism, based upon its original design of the '30s and offers an interesting route to Almodôvar. Arriving at the road branch that precedes Alportel, turn right to Almargem. The landscape will be completely different, with gentle slopes covered with cork oaks and dotted by a succession of typical villages. This is not anymore the coastline full of tourist beaches and hotels, nor the deserted mountain with its hills and bushes. This is a different reality, well worthing a visit. Further, in the middle of the hills and cork oak forest, take the direction of a village with the curious name of Parises. Three kilometers later arises Cova da Muda and the ascent becomes stiffer, by means of a taking you through a typical Mediterranean landscape. You can also take a short detour to get to know the picturesque village of Javali, with its small houses, filled with vases and flowers, from where you can see the surrounding fields. Notice the decorative railing in some houses, the 'platibandas', typical of Algarve popular architecture, which have its highest expression in Luz de Tavira. Back on the road and near Parises - as we shall see, a village that despite its charm is only Parisian in its name - enjoy a view over the valley, to the left. The sea is not that far, and yet nothing seems to suggest its nearness. A walk through Parises will prove to urban visitors that they were wrong to think that such a village could only exist on books. Following this tour, when passing the Cabeço do Velho, note a series of circular stone buildings covered with thatch and used as barns or warehouses. Of ancient origin, they are very common in this mountain and in the southern Alentejo region they are known as 'choças' or 'safurdões'. You are now reaching the end of the paved road, with only two other villages to pass by: Cerro da Ursa and Lages. If you are used to drive off-road and have the corresponding vehicle, you may proceed to the east, towards the hill, crowned by a series of antennas, Alcaria do Cume, on the road from Cachopo to Tavira. If this is not the case, start the way back, knowing that you will find, on the right side, some accesses to EN2, at south of Cabeço do Velho (via Castelão and Feiteira) or in the vicinity of Javali (via Barranco do Velho ). If you take Loulé direction, take the time to visit the well preserved village of Querença. Access By Via do Infante until the junction Faro/São Brás de Alportel and by EN2 until São Brás, following northwards by the same road, until the junction of Almargem, before reaching the Alportel village To have into account Except if you have an all-terrain vehicle, there is no way out at the end of this tour, and therefore an extra distance of two dozen kms by EN2 to São Brás de Alportel have to be considered. Length Some 40 km (way back not considered) Meals Pousada de São Brás de Alportel (T. 289842305), Casa Paixanito (T. 289412775), Loulé In the vicinity Ameixial and Barranco do Velho villages by EN2; Querença village by EN2 and EN 396, direction Loulé

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