Exploring the ‘Grande Rota do Guadiana’

DSCN7604Grand in length and in beauty the GR15 is a long distance walking route, meandering its way through the Baixo Guadiana from Vila Real de Santo António to Alcoutim, via the villages of Castro Marim, Azinhal, and Odeleite. You can walk the Grande Rota do Guadiana in 4 stages, or be like us and explore short sections intermittently.

Footpath follows the road bridge to Foz de Odeleite

One day last week it was too hot for a long walk but perfect weather for a ramble in the sunshine and for a picnic beside the river. So after looking at the map we found ourselves on the virtually flat section between Odeleite and Foz de Odeleite. We had the path to ourselves, and could easily have walked the entire section however we kept being distracted by the wildflowers and birdlife. In the end I’m not sure if we even managed 6km we did though have a wonderful few hours.

This is a lovely section of the route as you hug the edge of the matos beside the river. This river is not the Rio Guadiana though, it is of course given the names of the two villages is the Ribeira de Odeleite. It is a tributary of the Guadiana and is surprisingly wide even downstream of the dam.

Riberia de Odeleite

By the way can anyone enlighten me as to what determines a river is a Rio or Ribeira in Portugal? Is it something to do with where the river ends, the size of river , or as random as it sometimes is in England? Been searching all over the place and have not worked it out yet. I have though discovered that the section of the Odeleite above the dam is also known as the Blue Dragon Lake because of its shape and colour. If you have a map of the Algarve go and check it out now, and you’ll see what I mean. Otherwise why not join me in the gallery below as we stroll along the riverbank.  I’m only sorry I wasn’t able to capture the sounds which accompanied us; bees buzzing surprisingly loudly in the wildflowers, bee-eaters calling to each other in flight and the ringing of the sheep bells on the opposite riverbank.

DSCN7647One of the highlights of our stroll was watching and listening to the Bee-eaters above us. It was the first time I had actually heard the snapping noise they make when they capture an insect on the wing. When we stopped for lunch though we discovered something new about these gorgeous birds. They like to dive into water. From what we have since read it would seem they dive in to bathe, although some birders think that they may also be catching insects just under the surface.  Whatever the purpose it is amazing to watch, they hover for a few seconds above the water before they dive in. My attempts to photograph them diving failed completely but I did manage to take a video. You’ll need to watch carefully, and even though it is less than a minute long it may feel like a long wait after the fish!

DSCN7691We may not have strolled far but we did feel as though we had escaped into the countryside. In fact it was so beautiful that we returned to the area this week, but this time actually walked! I’ll be telling you more about that Monday(ish) walk next week.

In the meanwhile if you are currently in the Algarve or will be visiting soon and want to have your own Baixo Guadiana adventure then all you need do put on your hiking boots and click here for a downloadable PDF of the GR15 route. If you are really lucky you might even see the elephant. I won’t tell you where he is but here’s a picture of his head.


Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

32 thoughts

  1. A truly lovely walk Becky, thanks for letting us join you. It very much takes me back to Southern Spain at this glorious time of year, although your landscape looks a little gentler.

    1. Hi Theresa so pleased you liked and yes this section very gentlee for feet as well as eyes. We’ve walked other parts which are more up and down, and I would like to be caught in a storm in the remoter parts but even there didn’t feel as ‘rough’ as even some of the English moors. Not been to Southern Spain for years (despite being on border here!) but I do recall the mountains being bigger than here!

  2. Lovely. I always feel challenged to respond to your questions! I don’t have a firm answer to the rio/ribeira one, but since everyone insists that ours is a ribeira I wonder if it has something to do with whether it dries up in summer (as ours does), factors which would also relate to size. So rio = big, permanent; ribeira = small, seasonal. A friend of ours visiting last year took a photograph of a bee-eater coming up after bathing; it’s here on my blog if you want to take a look; the picture is at the end:

    1. I’m so pleased you do!! Unfortunately though not sure this time this explains it as the Odeleite doesn’t dry up 😕 I like as an explanation though!
      PS just looked at the photo your friend took it’s brilliant.

  3. You are getting to be very knowledgeable about plants and birds, Becky! Love that tassel hyacinth shot and your leaping fish in the vid. You didn’t do a bad job with the bee eaters either. 🙂 We’ve only seen them by the creek that runs under the E125, going towards Spain, so I thought there was a water connection.
    Thanks for the PDF (and the ping, I almost forgot to say 🙂 ). One of my recent walks was in that area, but not along the river. I don’t know what opportunities we’ll have on our short visit but you’ve got me looking forward to it. 🙂

    1. I’m getting there!
      So hope you get a few walks in when you’re next across. We did a long one yesterday – just over 9 miles – it was such a wonderful day. Consequently more flowers and birds to follow!

      1. No company at present? We’re over late next Wednesday so if you’re free at some point we’ll try and meet. 🙂

        1. Foot loose and fancy free hence all the walks plus we trying to get in as many as we can before we leave for the summer! And yes we’d love too 😊

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