Hiking the Portuguese Wild Coast: Rota Vicentina
What's the better way to know a region? Put your feet on the ground and walk it. That is exactly the purpose of Rota Vicentina, a network of more than 400km of walking trails along the most beautiful and naturally preserved Southern Europe coastline.
Costa Vicentina is a Natural Park, a preserved area stretching between Alentejo and Algarve along more than 100 km of wild coast. The impressive cliffs, the infinite number of rivers and streams, the embedded valleys and the oak and pine woods are home of a considerable amount of species that have found there a safe home to live. Like the white stork that turned the cliffs into its exclusive place to nest. Or the rare sea otter living quietly on the shores, between the rocks.
This rare piece of wild land gained a new life in 2012 when a walking route was designed and signalled. The biggest concern was to avoid human curiosity to eventually destroy the peace and safety of the endangered species and at the same way, give us all a chance to feel nature at its wildest state.
Every hiker who wants to walk Rota Vicentina has three options:
The Historical Way
Winner of the Leader Quality Trails as the Best of Europe, this classical Grand Route has 230 kms long divided in 12 sections between Santiago do Cacém in Alentejo and St. Vicente's cape in Algarve. It runs along little towns and secret villages, mainly through rural areas and cork tree forests. This route recovers the steps of pilgrims and shepherds from the past. To walk it is to connect with their voices always with the presence of the hills on one side and the ocean on the other.
Born below the steps of the fisherman that every day would reach the coast from their villages to try and earn a living with their catchings, this trail is only for the most fitted hikers. It runs for 100 kms of cliffy footpaths and sandy roads along the ocean, revealing wild and desert beaches only accessible by foot. The ocean scented breeze, the surprising landscape and the silence will surely keep you good company.
Perfect for those who are not experienced hikers or prefer to take things slowly and at their own pace. This set of routes offer the possibility of short walks lasting half a day or less. There are five of them to choose from, spread out both along the Historical Way and the Fisherman's trail.
Whatever road you choose to take there is something you need to know before arriving. Costa Vicentina might have a little side effect - you may want to stay there forever.
Silvia is a writer and a traveller born and and raised in Lisbon. Although her journeys have been taking her a bit everywhere in the world, Lisbon is the city where she always return to unveil and write about its never ending wonders.
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