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 not enough to figure out Algarve and secondly, I thought I knew Algarve, but it turned out I had no clue. Yes, Cabo San Vincente and the surroundings are spectacular but it turned out that other parts of the coastline are breathtaking also. To remedy my mistake, I decided to write a series of articles about the most impressive features, 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 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 ocean`s continuous erosion. 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 ships 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 the caves formed beneath them. Many people let themselves carried away by the attraction of the abyss and decide to take selfies sitting on the edge of the sinkhole. 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 its job eating patiently layer after layer of sedimentary rock forming sea caves, 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 Algarve‘s high cliffs forming 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 and sell them into slavery. These raids were happening especially on the harvest season when more seasonal workers were present 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 goes too close to the edge and the land is unstable prone to landslide or just crumbling being dangerous for people to walk on. Close it is fenced private property and because of this, it can`t be moved more inland. 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 wait for the sunset before the finish. Watch the sun sinking in the ocean`s waters with the last sigh 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…or not.
In a way walking this trail is like living a love story. It is the love for the ocean you rediscover because it was always somewhere inside you, and the love for the sunset. You might realize that you have missed so many sunsets until now taking it for granted. And maybe, just maybe, 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 you would find yourself by the ocean; feeling the breeze on your face, the salty smell of the ocean and the song of the arriving waves completing the picture.