Sunday, 14 February 2016

Walking the Via Agarviana (GR13)

This relatively unknown, long distance footpath falls into two parts: west of Alte the towns are bigger and seem more prosperous with a choice of accomodation (bookable on line) and a selection of restaurants. Tourists are commonly sighted. East of Alte villages are small and have empty houses and ruins of houses left  by people moving away, old men with flat caps and old women with hats of a greater variety. Accomodation is limited to a Casa (like a bed & breakfast) in the village at the end of each stage. No doubt the Via Algarviana was routed through this area to bring in some much needed money. I could have wild camped more but it would have felt that I was depriving people of much needed income and purpose.
The dogs in the villages and isolated farmhouses have made it clear I am not welcome, chasing me out of town with their furious barking. Fortunately, the most vicious  ones were behind fences or chained so I was never actually attacked.
Overall it is a good walk to do in the winter months when other paths in Europe are covered with snow or subject to really inclement weather. In summer there are more spectacular, historically interesting and varied long distance footpaths and the Algarve would probably be too hot for walking.

In all I covered 312 kilometres, The way-marking was generally very good, with the standard red and white marking as used in France, and reference to the name and designation of the path (Via Algarviana and GR13). I used my Garmin gps when in doubt, which had a Garmin Portugal Topo Light map which was perfectly adequate and had GR paths marked. I also down-loaded the gpx file from the Via Algarviana website (http://www.viaalgarviana.org/?lang=en) which also helped to remove ambiguity. The official guide did provide background information and details of accommodation and cafes, and the associated maps from the Sagres Tourist office gave a better feel for where I was going. A paper copy is not however essential if you copy down key information from the internet like where you are planning to stay. Much of the accommodation can be booked via booking.com but not the "Casa's" in the last 4 or 5 villages. There is a gap in accommodation at Cachopo, where I camped but this does mean carrying a tent with you and risking any angry land owners. I note that commercial companies, who can book the route for you, include a transfer to another village for the night.



3 comments:

  1. I'm thinking about doing this trail at the end of march. I was wondering if you know if the tracks goes on after you cross the boarder to spain. Love to hear from you. Greetings Jolinde

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    1. I continued across the border into Spain going first to Seville and then to Tarifa in the south of Spain. This is described in newer posts of my blog such as http://johnpone4.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/15-february-to-villaneuva-de-los.html and http://johnpone4.blogspot.co.uk/. I was trying to find my own route and there were more sections on busy road than I would have liked (although the Cadiz to Tarifa section was lovely). An alternative which I did not try was to follow the GR114 "Camino Natural del Corredor del Guadiana" south from where the Via Algarviana ends to Ayamonte, which would at least link you up with public transport options. The route is on https://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/#route?id=4830796&map=12!37.2368!-7.3815. Not sure about accommodation on route though. Enjoy your trip. John

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    2. Super thanks for your information, helped me a lot. I have decided to just do the via algarviana and after that to walk from lisbon to Santiago :)

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