Ancient path between Caldas de Monchique and Picota, rediscovered to welcome nature tourists

After the fire, the company ProActiveTur and the Municipality of Monchique got together to ensure that there is a path between Caldas and Picota that does justice to the natural beauty of the municipality.

The first ones arrive on Sunday, but many more will follow. The company ProActiveTur will take the first group of hikers from the new season to Caldas de Monchique, next Sunday, and worked together with the City Council to reopen and mark the old trail that connects this spa to the county seat and Picota, so that the group of nature tourists can enjoy this tour.

The trail that until now was used by that responsible tourism company, specialized in hiking, became impractical after the fire that affected Monchique and the neighboring municipalities in early August.

«The circular route between Caldas de Monchique and Picota was almost completely burned. And there is a large number of hikers who, from September onwards, want to do this route», he explained to Sul Informação Bruno Rodrigues, from ProActiveTur.

On Wednesday, Bruno accompanied a team of forest sappers, highlighted by the Municipality of Monchique, in the reopening of sections of an old trail, which had fallen into disuse for years. Parts of this path were eventually invaded by vegetation, but they escaped the fire at the beginning of August.

The work, for the Aspaflobal sapper team, started early. And, for the eyes of a layman, the task was arduous. In some places, the path was no longer visible, bearing in mind the tall vegetation and the many eucalyptus and acacia trees that, over the years, have called it home.

Nothing that the Monchique sappers and their machines could not solve and, as witnessed by the Sul Informação, very quickly.

«What we are doing is marking an alternative route, which takes advantage of the green pockets that still exist between Caldas and Picota, using old paths that, in the past, were widely used», said Bruno Rodrigues.

In addition to the markings, made with blue paint, the entire route was geo-referenced by the ProActiveTur element. Later, these coordinates will be made available, in order to give hikers another tool to stay on the right path.

The dirt trail starts next to the old primary school of Caldas de Monchique and follows, in some cases, through wider roads, which give access to the many houses scattered throughout this part of the Serra de Monchique, but also along paths lined with tall trees and by furrows carved in the mountain itself by countless feet over the centuries.

It is this mountainous landscape, where there is no lack of water courses, lush vegetation and typical Monchique terraces, that attracts so many hikers to this municipality in the interior of the Algarve.

«The trail that was used before, even if it was passable, no longer has the scenic beauty it had a month ago. Until that happens, it will take some time, so it was necessary to find an alternative solution», he explained.

Also because what is really important is that «nature tourists do not leave Monchique and continue to come here».

This does not mean that the alternative that has been found hides the marks of fire. In many places, particularly in the area where the forest sappers were working, the destruction caused by the flames is evident and the charred tree trunks rise from a land where the spectrum of colors varies between gray and black.

Bruno Rodrigues even confesses that this turns out to be an opportunity to recover a path that many have forgotten, with the exception of some of the older inhabitants.

«This path will continue to serve the population, even after what already existed to recover. And we hope that, one day, it will become part of a wider network of paths here in Monchique», he wished.

The trail starts on the EN266, next to the Rouxinol restaurant – which burned in the fire -, on the tarred road that goes up to the old primary school of Caldas de Monchique. More information about this new route can be requested from the ProActiveTur.


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues|Sul Informação