Circular Routes Stage
8 / 13 Km
It was in the years of the Second Republic, that big dams were built in Alentejo. This walk allows you to see both irrigated and dry farming of the land, with beautiful cork oak forests that are home to rich flora and fauna. Spring is especially generous to this specific route, tinting the fields with colors of all kinds in a feast for the eyes, while the birds create the perfect soundtrack to accompany this picturesque scene.
Along this route, you will cross wheat fields, meadows, oak forests, eucalyptus, cork oak and stone pine forests, all on gently undulating land.
Some very old cork trees are truly majestic, opening their branches to the nests of the chaffinch, tits, hoopoes, owls and eagles. The platforms built in these trees, where local hunters wait for boars, prove the rich abundance of the animals in the area. You can also find traces of otter, badger and fox. Encounters with the partridges, corn buntings, and European stonechat are common along the way. From the beginning of the rainy season until the end of spring, the temporary ponds are in their aquatic phase, drying completely in the summer, and offering an abundance and diversity of tadpoles. These ponds are essential for the reproduction of frogs, toads, salamanders and newts (amphibians). In fact, because the ponds are temporary, these habitats do not even have fish or crayfish, which are typical habitual predators of the eggs and the larvae of the amphibians.
A common insect in the spring and early summer, is the red-striped oil beetle, (Berberomeloe majalis). It is large (measuring on average 5cm long), black and may have red streaks on the abdomen. The female lays eggs in a small hole in the ground. The larvae ascend up through the herbs to the flowers and await the arrival of a bee, or other insect of that order. They then cling to the legs of the bee, hitching a ride to the victim’s nest, where they begin their parasitic feast, eating eggs, larvae and food that was intended for the larvae of the bees. After several metamorphoses, the adult emerges to the outside world and becomes herbivorous. When it feels threatened, the red-striped oil beetle expels a reddish liquid with a toxic substance – cantharidin – that can cause irritations in the skin and is poisonous if ingested.
The water lines, with their fantastic galleries of European ash and willow trees, act as ecological corridors for the dispersal of plants and animals. Their effect is enhanced by the different vines of ivy, honeysuckle and common smilax and riparian shrubs, which eventually overtake the gallery with vegetation, providing an excellent place for feeding, refuge and reproduction for many animals. At the edges of the eucalyptus forest, it is easy to observe two endemic species that are exclusive to this corner of the Iberian Peninsula: the Cynara algarbiensis and the Centaurea vicentina. In the spring, the roadsides are filled with wild peas, Shrubby Everlasting, pale flax, narrowleaf lupin, spade-moths and wild orchids of the genus Serapias. In the autumn, along the canal and the water lines, the hawthorn is filled with vibrant red, edible fruits. In the shrubs the carqueja predominates, along with the tojo-gatum, the sage-leaved rock-rose, the gum rockrose, the flax-leaved daphne and the Columbian waxweed (Cuphea carthagenensis).
Where to start
At the north side of the dam.
Rules and Recommendations
This route has two variants and overlaps on a small part the Historical Way. Be aware of the signage.