We have had so many extraordinarily beautiful walks in the Lower Guadiana valleys that I didn’t think it would be possible to be rendered speechless by the views anymore. However that all changed last week when we headed into the Vale da Zorra. It was as so often is the case these days, a walking route of our own devising. I knew we would enjoy it but we never expected the panoramic views.
We have great fun creating our own walks and exploring off the beaten track using the Instituto Geográfico do Exército maps. If you are new to walking in the Portugal though we recommend you choose one of the many excellent hikes and strolls to be found in Walking Portugal. Not only will you not need to carry a map on you as are they generally well signposted routes, but by following an official route your walking adventure is less likely to cross hunting reserves. The latter is really really important to be aware of if you are planning to hike on hunting days (Thursdays, Sundays & holidays) in the main hunting season (mid August thru end February)! We could not have attempted our walk on a hunting day in the hunting season as it was almost entirely within one of the reserves within the Vale da Zorra.
I was surprised on our return to discover we have taken over 4hours to complete just under 7miles! There were multiple ascents and descents including a climb to the trig point – Castelo 2° and a scramble across a small stream but we had not been walking particularly slowly. However then I look at my camera and realised why. I had taken over 200 photographs! With its panoramic views, bird life, wildlife and flora this is a wonderful springtime walk for nature lovers and Jo’s Monday Walkers. Just make sure you pack sufficient water in your rucksack, and maybe a picnic too.
The first section took us through cultivated meadows, it wasn’t long though before the cultivation had been replaced by the usual Serra landscape of gorse, cistus and lavender. We then found ourselves in managed lands, with the occasional shooting point.
It was though the views that I kept stopping for.
And also the flora and birdlife in these beautiful serra meadows and managed lands.
Oh and did I mention the views?!
It wasn’t long before we were heading out of the Vale da Zorra into the Cerra da Rocha. The valley between the two areas felt quite different as we walked first towards and then away from the Guadiana along shaded paths. There were also numerous insects so I didn’t pause for long in the meadows!
As we climbed further up the serra landscape returned, and we soon found ourselves on a section of another Serra do Caldeirão hike we had only completed a month ago. Even though we knew this was going to happen it took us a moment to orientate ourselves and we nearly ended up going the wrong way. I blame the flora!
Now on familiar territory I found myself walking more and photographing less, but there were still one or two pauses as I spotted the wildlife around us. I wasn’t quick enough to photograph the deer, but I was better with the amphibians and psammodromus!
Not long after the frogs and their rapidly diminishing pond we were on the ridge which runs through the Vale da Zorra. Having walked it numerous times in the past few weeks on other hikes it is no longer of great interest to us, however it is a very easy way to finish the walk and there are more wonderful views. It is also the stretch where there are numerous other paths running off so if you wanted you could easily extend this 7km (ish) hike into a 10km, 15km or even longer.
We chose not to extend as it was nearly 4pm, plus we knew there were some great bird perches ahead. Shortly after we spotting the corn buntings we were back down by the car, and it was time to head home.
By the way you have probably noticed I have been slightly vague on the exact route we took. This is deliberate! It is not that I don’t want you to discover this hike, but this is such a beautiful area within the Baxio Guadiana I would hate it to be overrun by Instagrammers and the like. Instead I encourage you to explore one of the official Walking Portugal trails in this area, or to purchase the no583 map so you too can create your own hiking adventure in the Bajo Guadiana Sul.