There isn’t much we miss in England when we are in Portugal, but the autumnal colours are one of the few things which are just not quite the same here in the Algarve. A couple of years ago though we did manage to find some delights, and last week we found even more on one of our favourite hiking adventures in the hills and valleys surrounding the Riberia da Foupana and the Riberia de Odeleite. At the start of the walk though there was no sign of the colour to come.
Having climbed to the top for glorious views of the Serra do Caldeirão to the north, it was time to make the very long descent to our first ford crossing where we would find the autumnal colours. On the way down we made some friends.
We were surprised by just how much water was flowing given how dry it has been this year, but then we remembered that there had been heavy rains at the beginning of the month and the Foupana rises in the Serra do Caldeirão before meandering for 55 miles. It was deep enough we needed to use some of the stepping stones at the ford crossing; a good sense of balance is required. It was on the other side we were surrounded by autumnal colours, possibly the most beautiful section of the walk. At least at this time of the year, in the spring the hills are covered in wildflowers.
As I took the final photograph in the gallery above I spotted some large oblong shapes on the far bank. I zoomed in and was amazed to see they were very large fish. No idea what they are perhaps zander, carp or pike, although all of those are introduced fish. Native possibilities include Barbel.
At the second crossing there are no stepping stones and so we had to paddle through the ford. A good reminder (not that we really needed it after what happened in 2017) the Foupana is not a river to attempt to cross in the days immediately following heavy or prolonged rains. This is still a very wild river, and if you are on foot can be impossible to cross at times. Not sure I’d even attempt it in a vehicle when it is high. Last week though it was a tranquil scene.
As we followed the Foupana down stream towards the Odeleite it was time to climb again, fortunately not as high as where we had been an hour or so earlier but steep enough that the legs were commenting on it!.
We were now almost at the point where the Foupana flows into Odeleite, and we would be transferring our focus to the Riberia de Odeleite. This section of the river is a favourite haunt of ours as there is always something to see no matter which bank you are on.
It was gone 4pm by the time we approached the end of the walk and the Rio Guadiana. The golden light was enhancing the autumnal colours beautifully.
I’ve created a short video of the walk, it is available to watch on my Instagram account and for those who want to explore this area themselves we recommend purchasing the Carta Militar de Portugal Folha 583. Whilst most of the tracks are easy to follow, it is all too easy to get lost thanks to dead ends and the fact all three rivers are tidal. Down stream doesn’t always looking like it is flowing to the sea, and the river flow can change mid hike!