In the vegetation on the cliffs, a close look discovers wild orchids and lilies, dwarf palms and many aromatic plants, such as thyme, mastic tree or lavender. The trail crosses, in Boca do Rio, a permanent water course, a result of the confluence of several streams. North of this point you can find Lontreira Bog (Paul da Lontreira), which is worth exploring before continuing. It is a wetland with more than 100 hectares, dominated by reeds and narrowleaf cattail.
On the banks of the water lines the tamarisk predominates and in the humid floodplains, where paddie fields once existed, pastures and rushes now flourish. The otter is the emblematic species in Paul da Lontreira, but has nocturnal habits, so it is not easily seen. In the avifauna, the species to note are the common gallinule, Eurasian coot, common moorhen, snowy egret, purple heron, grey heron, zitting cisticola, Eurasian reed warbler, savi’s warbler and Eurasian penduline tit (a rare species only observed in winter).
At the western end of the Boca do Rio Beach, you can recognise the remains of a Roman villa, which included fish salting workshops, a bathhouse, a residential area and a domestic service area. Mosaic-clad compartments and walls with painted stuccoes were found, which indicates the prosperity of this ancient settlement.
Less than 2 km from Boca do Rio, at the bottom of the sea, are the remains of L’Océan, a 60-meter-long ship that carried 80 cannons and 800 crew members. It was the admiral ship of a French fleet of 14 ships. During the Seven Years War it was sunk by the mighty British navy in the Battle of Lagos in August 1759.
In the seventeenth century, repeated attacks by pirates and privateers on fishing tackle led the then Governor and Captain General of the Algarve, D. Luís de Sousa, to have a fort built to defend the coast, just east from Boca do Rio beach. The pirates acted outside the law, attacking even the ships of their own country. The privateers, however, were granted the right by the state of seizing ships and looting villages from enemy states. Both reached their peak in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The fort of Almádena resisted the earthquake of 1755, but it was abandoned when the coast was no longer under threat. The last known uses of the fort took place in the Civil War (1832-1834) and in the 19th century for contraband surveillance on the coast.
Where to start
In Salema beach.
In Luz beach.
Rules and Recommendations
In Burgau, enjoy lunch or a coffee in the picturesque narrow streets and alleys.