Circular Routes Stage
This route tells us the stories of the cycles of planet Earth during the last 300 million years.
If you get an early start, you are likely to find many different birds, such as the stock dove, the peregrine falcon, the red-billed chough, the black redstart, and the western jackdaw. Along the path, you can spot footprints, feces, and the holes of rabbits, fox, Egyptian mongooses, and otters. The habitats by the cliffs are essential for the conservation of plants that are extremely rare on a global level, such as the Armeria beirana, Teucrium vicentinum, Cistus palhinhae or Thymus camphoratus. On the hillsides of the deep valleys, the water lines are dominated by the African tamarisk (Tamarix africana). In the spring, shrubs are filled with sweet smelling flowers and different species of heathers, myrtle, wild asparagus, Cynara algarviensis, flax-leaved daphne, mastic tree, kermes oak, lavender, juniper, and the yellow restharrow.
On Murração Beach, you can find the best rocky outcrops of the Carboniferous period in Portugal; these are over 300 million years old. In the folds and faults of the rocks of the cliff, the geologists studied the formation of an old mountain range, now completely demolished. When Pangea, the supercontinent was formed, this mountain range had a higher elevation than that of any Portuguese mountain today. While the folds in these rocks have been destroyed by erosion, by looking at the steep rocky layers which can sometimes be almost vertical, we can find small fossils of marine organisms that are important for understanding and reconstructing the evolution of life in this distant era.
The ancient and deformed rocks are crossed with dikes of other rocks – magma that consolidated before reaching the surface during the opening of the Atlantic Ocean in the era of the dinosaurs. The most recent of these rocks (created about 200 million years ago) are the colorful red and yellow sandstones, resulting from continental deposits and first seen right on Amado Beach.
Murração Beach is classified as a site of great geological interest (geosite), because it presents the most continuous and best dated section of the Bordalete Formation (an important unit of the Carboniferous period in Portugal) exposing the outlier of Carrapateira (one of the most known tectonic accidents in the South Portuguese Zone) showing the doleritic dikes and alkaline basins. It is an excellent testimony to the phenomena that led to the opening of the Atlantic Ocean.
Next to Murração Beach, there is an archaeological station with vestiges of cooking fires, as well as the remains of cooked food from prehistoric people. This type of station is common in the southwest coast of Portugal and is called “shell/middens” since you can predominately find the shells of marine molluscs.
Where to start
Praia do Amado (Amado Beach)
In the parking lot next to the bar.
Rules and Recommendations
Pay attention to the conditions of the sea at the beaches of Murração and Amado. Never risk it!
This section overlaps with other routes. Pay attention to the signs.