This is the most arid section of Rota Vicentina. It crosses a profoundly agricultural and rural Alentejo where, in spite the proximity to the ocean, you will be able to smell the fragrances and feel the might of this inland area. At Campilhas Dam, make a pause for a picnic and a dip on hotter days
The scenery on the first half of this section of the Rota Vicentina may seem arid and even desolate. This is a sad reflection upon the threat that the Montados face as it is the death and decline of these natural forests, which has been brought about by natural disease, poor management and the decline in the early part of the 21st century of cork’s use as a stopper in wine bottles.
But the dryness along the entire trail, especially during the dry season has another cause. This part of Portugal has an extreme Mediterranean-style climate with a rainy season concentrated in just three or four months. This hot dry climate with torrential rain concentrated in short bursts results in some spectacular scenery, sometimes arid but always interesting, changing according to the season.
The southern half of the section is particularly interesting because of what ecologists call a “mosaic” of habitats. The mosaic here is made up of stands of forest separated by open fields of low intensity cereal and cattle farming with small streams, watercourses and even the odd patch of reed-ringed marsh. The mosaic promotes a wide diversity of both scenery and bio-diversity.
Along the way you will find olive groves, orchards, hedged vegetable gardens, small ponds and some beautiful rocky outcrops.
On the N120 between Cercal and Santiago, take the road to the Campilhas reservoir. The route begins near the 1st crossroads of the dirt track encountered.
Cercal do Alentejo:
From the roundabout of Cercal do Alentejo, head towards to the Church, where you will find the route markers.