Groups accepted with a minimum of 6 pax.
Stretching for 65 km, the Guadiana Grand Route (GR 15) is grand in length and in beauty. It follows the River Guadiana as it flows through the uplands and the barrocal on its way to the sea.
Running along Portugal’s south-eastern border with Spain, the Guadiana has been visited by merchants from far away since around 800 BC, attracted by its fertile banks and vast commercial potential, starting with the Phoenicians, followed by the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Moors.
Mertola, Museum Village
Today the River no longer serves commercial routes, but the region’s interesting and lovely landscapes, and the rich history and heritage are a treat for the visitors.
Our tour will start in Mértola, known as the “museum village”, once the capital of the then powerful Moorish empire, and where the history is engraved in charming layers.
From here we will walk to Pomarão and Mina de São Domingos, where the Guadiana turns inland towards the northwest. It became a busy port in the 19th century as a result of a British company settling a mine 15 km to the north. The ore was transported by a railway line from the mine to Pomarão where it was loaded onto ships and taken down the river. What’s left of the mine is reminiscent of a moonscape that would not be out of place on any sci fi film set.
Alcoutim Smuggler Statue
Alcoutim is another base of our tour, a picturesque village facing San Lucar on the other margin of the river, in Spain. Altough smaller than Mértola, it was a major river port in the times of the Phoenicians.
From here, we will take lovely nature walks, including the “Blue Dragon River”, as the Odeleite dam is also known due to its peculiar shape.
The Natural Park of the Guadiana Valley and the varied landscapes along the River offer a quite unique ecosystem of Mediterranean scrub, rocky outcrops, and a backdrop of small farming lands, water and wind mills.
The wildlife is exuberant and there is a sense of quietness in this still unspoiled part of the territory, rich in heritage, history and natural wonders.
Day 1 – Arrival to Faro and transfer to Mértola
Arrival to Faro Airport. Transfer to Mértola (around 90mn).
If time allows a short introductory walk in Mértola will be offered.
Mertola, Museum Village
Day 2 – Minas De S. Domingos & Pomarão Walk
Our day begins gently, with a small walk around the S. Domingos Mine, a deserted open-pit mine in the Alentejo once explored by a British company, which created in the middle of this deserted land a small village. What’s left of the mine is reminiscent of a moonscape that would not be out of place on any sci fi film set.
Sinister and enigmatic, the place is also fascinating for being the silent keeper of the stories – often dramatic – of the thousands of men who used to chisel out tons of ore.
Our route offers stunning views over the Guadiana River in Pomarão, where we can enjoy a relaxed and very well deserved refreshment.
Walk: 11km (6.8mi); ascent/descent: 197m/-258m; highest point:115m
Mines Sao Domingos
Day 3 – Mértola Walk
Today’s walk covers the northwest corner of Mértola. Immersed in the Natural Park of the Guadiana Valley, our walk will allow us walk from our hotel through the middle of Mértola and from there to the hills where we can contemplate the undulating plains, the quartzite elevations and the embedded valleys of the Guadiana River. The river banks offer a quite unique ecosystem of Mediterranean scrub, rocky outcrops and farming landscapes.
Spectacularly set on a rocky spur, high above the peaceful River Guadiana, the cobbled streets of medieval Mértola are a delightful place to roam. A small but imposing castle stands high, overlooking the jumble of dazzlingly white houses and a picturesque church that was once a mosque. Many traces of Islamic occupation are still intact, so much so that Mértola is considered a vila museu (open-air museum)
Walk: 15.35 km (9.535 mi); ascent/descent: 97 m/-150 m; highest point: 188m
A walk through the beautiful Great Route of Guadiana
Day 4 – Transfer Day / Alcoutim Walk
We take a scenic walk from Alcoutim along the edge of the River Guadiana. We will have a walk around this charming frontier village, facing its Spanish equivalent across the river. Our walk today uses part of the GR13 (Algarve Way) and is called “The delights of Alcoutim”, with the River Guadiana forming the centrepiece of the walk and passing through orchards of almond, fig and olive trees.
Walk: 12.3km/7.6mi; ascent/descent: +53m/-197m; highest point: 170m
Day 5 – Day Off
An included introductory walk around Alcoutim will be offered.
For those interested an additional and optional activity will be suggested (extra cost will apply). The optional activity includes a boat trip to Pomarão plus a leisure visit with a small walk in Sanlucar de Guadiana in Spain.
Alcoutim Smuggler Statue
Day 6 – Laranjeiras walk
Our walk starts from the small village of Balurcos, south west of Alcoutim. It includes the best of both worlds: the gentle hills of the Guadiana trails and the calm and peaceful views provided by the river itself.
On our way, we’ll find small remote house gatherings and remains of past roman settlements. Is included a visit to a museum in Guerreiros do Rio, dedicated to the importance, heritage and history of the river Guadiana.
Walk: 11.5 km/7.1mi; ascent/descent: +123m/-324m; highest point: 205m
The charming River Museum of the attractive Guadiana River
Day 7 – Odeleite walk
Called by some as the “Blue Dragon River” the Odeleite dam is bordered by the small village with the same name. Roman ruins are a memory of past history, along with water and wind mills typical from the Algarve Region.
Our walk parallels the river valley and passes through the small villages around.
Walk: 12.2km/7.6mi; ascent/descent: +-168m; highest point: 114m
A walk through the glamorous countryside of Alcoutim, overlooking the elegant nature
Day 8 – Departure
After breakfast transfer to the airport.
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