From the picturesque town of Alvor in the Western Algarve a boardwalk winds its way through salt marshes, dunes, mud flats and salt pans to the mouth of the Ria de Alvor. In addition to the simple natural beauty of this area, the extensive marshes and tidal estuary make it an excellent birding site. As both a Special Area of Conservation (Natura 2000) and a Ramsar site it is well worth a casual walk or dedicated birding stop in the area.
The variety of productive habitats attract a wide variety of species throughout the year as well as during the spring and fall migration periods. Wading birds feed along the edges of the marsh, terns dive for the plentiful fish and many small songbirds are attracted to the low bushes and plants of the marsh and dune systems.
There are many small pools and creeks that can be viewed from the boardwalk so with careful observation you can spot several species at close range as well as the larger birds farther out in the river and on the flats. The boardwalk is in great condition and this part of the walk is very accessible to anyone. Every time we have visited there have been plenty of people enjoying the walk.
At the end of the boardwalk, which runs for about 2 km, a well maintained path runs along the shoreline which gives great views across the estuary. Numerous sandbars provide resting and feeding areas for terns, gulls, cormorants, herons, egrets and ducks.
The final piece of the trail takes you along the breakwater which protects the mouth of the river. The views west to Lagos are breathtaking and equally stunning back along the beach towards Portimão. From the end of the trail you can retrace your steps or walk back along the beach to the car park.
This is another of those areas that regardless if you are interested in birding, nature or just looking for a pleasant walk you won’t be disappointed.