This long distance path along Sw Portugal begins at the emblematic Santiago do Cacém Church, a city with a strong connection to the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. Since the Middle Ages pilgrims pass here coming from the Promontorium Sacrum, the mythical destination of this historic journey now recovered through Rota Vicentina
This section of the trail is dominated by cork trees, the Alentejo’s emblematic species. Vieira Natividade, a well-known Portuguese forester, said: “No other tree gives us so much while requiring so little”. The cork tree is crucial to the local economy and supports an extraordinarily wide-ranging ecosystem.
Cork oak forests also support various economic activities such as beekeeping, Nature orientated tourism, the collection of edible or medicinal mushrooms, (and even mushrooms used in the making of cosmetics), as well as husbandry of local animal breeds such as the famed Black Pig of the area and several different species of Alentejo cows.
Being an evergreen species, cork oaks provide shelter and food right up the food chain the whole year around. They are home to numerous insects and spiders which provide food for a wealth of different birds and there are over fifty different species that commonly nest in cork forests, among which can be found at least three different species of eagle, the Short-toed, Booted and Bonelli’s.
Other species of wildlife, such as the Wildcat, Genet or Weasel can also be found.
Refreshments along the way
At 12.5 km, making a detour of 1 km, you will reach the village of Paiol.
Accomodation at Vale Seco
Vale Seco has few accommodations in the area. Request a transfer or taxi to reach the chosen accommodation, or opt to sleep in Santiago do Cacém or Cercal do Alentejo.
Santiago do Cacém:
At the Church of Santiago do Cacém, descending towards the Parque Urbano of the Rio da Figueira.
On the N120 between Cercal and Santiago, on the road to the Campilhas reservoir. 1st crossroads on the dirt track.
To all mountain bikers
If you are making this journey by mountain bike, you should start at the exit of the Park, since cycling is not permitted inside the Parque Urbano of the Rio da Figueira, and the Church access to the Park passes through several flights of stairs and a fairly steep descent.