Grande Rota do Guadiana (GR15)
Pedestrian route along the lower course of the river Guadiana, the border of the Algarve with Andalusia in Spain, from Vila Real de Santo António to Alcoutim
This easternmost region of the Algarve is situated on the lower course of the river Guadiana, the border with Andalusia in Spain. The Guadiana is one of three main rivers of the Iberian Peninsula (together with Tejo and Duro) flowing from Spain to Portugal. It rises near Ciudad Real in the region of Castile – La Mancha and empties after 742 km near Vila Real de Santo António and Ayamonte into the Gulf of Cadiz. The area includes the 3 municipalities of Alcoutim, Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António. Situated by the mouth of the River Guadiana, the Sapal de Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Nature Reserve is one of the most important wetland areas in Portugal. It is formed by salty marshes with their special brackish waters, salt-pans and creeks, and is home to a diverse range of plants and animals. The artificial lakes of Beliche and Odeleite are large storage reservoirs maintaining the water supply to the region even during the long, hot summers.
Grande Rota do Guadiana
The Great Guadiana Route (GR15) is about 65 km's long and covers the territory of Baixo Guadiana in Algarve. The route crosses three municipalities of Alcoutim, Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António and travels for sixteen locations that represent the typical characteristics of the Serra (mountains), the Barrocal and the Litoral (coastal area), with the landmark of the territory: Rio Guadiana, the great river of the south.
The route consists of four sectors:
- GR15- 1: Vila Real de Santo António – Junqueira (11,5 km/3 h/easy)
- GR15-2: Junqueira – Odeleite (17,3 km/5 h/moderate)
- GR15-3: Odelete – Guerreiros do Rio (18 km/5 h/moderate)
- GR15-4: Guerreiros do Rio – Alcoutim (18 km /5, km/moderate)
On both ending points the GR15 has links to other pedestrian routes crossing the Algarve from East to West:
- The Ecovia Litoral in Vila Real de Santo António, a green corridor along the coast with a length of 214 km, flagged towards Sagres on the south-western tip of continental Portugal, and
- The Via Algarviana (GR13) with a length of 300 km, that connects Alcoutim to Aljezur in the Costa Vicentina, the unspoilt western coast of the Algarve, crossing 11 municipalities in the mountainous hinterland of the Algarve
Landscape, heritage, ethnography, gastronomy, physical activity and fresh air are the ingredients of this great route that consolidates the provision of pedestrian routes in Baixo Guadiana. The Great Guadiana Route is connecting the coast to the interior with the objective to position the territory as a hiking area and to develop the nature tourism in the Baixo Guadiana.