More than a beach destination, Algarve, is a destination for travel adventures seekers
When I visited Algarve for the first time, I thought that Cabo Sao Vincente was the pinnacle of spectacularity for the region. Well, my second visit prooved me that “Boy, I couldn`t be more wrong. First of all, two days are way not enough to figure out Algarve and secondly, I thought I knew Algarve, but it turned out I have no clue. Yes, Cabo San Vincente and the surroundings are spectacular but other parts of the coastline are breathtaking. To remedy my mistake, I decided to write about each one of them, starting with il Caminho dos Promontorios or the Trail of the Headlands.
This spectacular hike winds along the coast for 8km, starting from Ponta da Altar lighthouse in Ferragudo close to Portimao passing along all the headlands until Carvoeiro. In the Neolithic period, Ponta de Altar was a sacred place where people were bringing sacrifices to their gods. Nowadays the remains were eaten away by the continuous erosion of the ocean. Keep in mind that the coastline itself was in constant changes, what you see now is the product of thousands of years of erosion. At the time when the altar was functioning the entire area was looking a lot different. The altar is long gone now, instead, a tall lighthouse like an Egyptian obelisk is guiding the boats into the night. From there, follow the path north and the beauty of the headlands reveals very soon. The trail itself is not a walk in the park going up and down along the coastline, so make sure you wear proper shoes. The karstic landscape is dotted with sinkholes. I have never seen one until I came here and the entire dynamic behind it it was unknown to me. Now, I know and understand a lot more, it is an incredible feeling to see those deep round holes and hear the waves breaking inside. Many people let themselves carried away by the attraction towards the abyss and decide to take selfies sitting on the edge of the whole. My advice to you is, Don`t!!!. Those sinkholes are surrounded by wooden posts for a reason. While the rainwater is eating the limestone from above forming the holes underneath, the ocean is doing his job eating patiently layer after layer of sedimentary rock-forming sea caves. Most of the time these caves are connected with a sinkhole which makes their ceiling more prone to crumble under heavyweight.
This continuous process of sea caving and sinkholes crumbling allowed the ocean to feast on the high cliffs of Algarve‘s s forming the spectacular headlands, natural carved limestone arches, and small cove beaches. A network of watchtowers was built on the coast meant to keep an eye on the pirates. They were raiding the villages catching people to sell them into slavery. These raids were happening especially on the harvest season when more seasonal workers were arriving in the area. Torre da Lapa is one of the few reaming watchtowers being 400 years old and is one of the trail`s landmarks.
A section between Paradise Beach and Salgadeira Beach is closed for a year now and is not going to be reopened. The path in that section goes too close to the edge and the land is unstable prone to landslide or just crumbling being dangerous for people to walk on. It can`t be moved due to a fenced private property in the close vicinity. It is a pity but this is what happens when the land meets the ocean. The strongest wins, in this case, the strongest being the ocean. There is an alternative path safely going through the residential area straight to Carvoeiro.
When walking this trail is better to finish while waiting for the sunset. Wait for the last sigh of the sun when sinking in the ocean`s waters and maybe you will be able to catch a glimpse of the elusive green light. Or, who knows, maybe you will find also true love like the heroes of Jules Verne s book The Green Ray. Just look in the eyes of the person you are with and there you will find emerging the light you were looking for…
In a way walking this trail is like a love story. It is the love for the ocean you rediscover because it was always somewhere inside you, and the love for the sunsets. you might realize that you have missed so many sunsets until now taking it for granted. And maybe, just may, from now on, every time the sun will set, you will have this image in your mind and although you might be in the middle of a city it will feel like being by the ocean, smelling and feeling the breeze.