A 27-year-old man born and raised in Silves has launched an ecotourism company called Algarvian Roots, offering authentic experiences in the Western Algarve.
Launched around a year and a half ago in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company aims to showcase the “huge potential for ecotourism” that the region boasts.
From exploring some of the Algarve’s most beautiful hiking trails to taking part in arts and crafts workshops and enjoying the region’s delicious food, the list of activities that Algarvian Roots offers is wide-ranging.
Francisco Simões, the company’s founder and the man who leads the guided walks, moved away from his hometown of Silves to pursue a degree in Ecotourism in Coimbra and, later on, a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management and Conservation.
The idea to launch his own business grew as his academic career progressed, having finally come to fruition after successfully applying for funding via the Portugal 2020 programme.
The funding was key to being able to launch the company in the midst of the pandemic, at a time when travel restrictions were still in place.
“It was a risk, and it would have been impossible to happen without this support,” Francisco told us.
However, the company has got off to a promising start, having already provided several press trips for foreign journalists and one fam trip for tour operators thanks to a partnership with the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA).
As Francisco told us, “ecotourism has huge potential in the Algarve.
“The Algarve was very geared towards its sun and beaches, but the strategy changed several years ago to focus more on other activities such as hiking, birdwatching and nature tourism,” he said.
Ecotourism is not the same as nature tourism, the company founder stressed. It is instead a “sustainable activity” carried out in natural areas which focuses on preserving local heritage whilst also benefitting the local community and encouraging education.
“It goes beyond simply the tourism product and has a more educational and interpretative component,” he said.
The name ‘Algarvian Roots’ reflects its founder’s ties to the region and the choice to have it in English was to appeal to foreign holidaymakers, who account for a large percentage of its clients.
“So far, the majority of holidaymakers are German, Dutch, French and, surprisingly, American and Canadian,” Francisco said.
For now, Francisco remains the company’s only guide, although he is planning to hire more people soon.
The experiences are held in the Western Algarve, with plans to start expanding to Aljezur, Monchique and Vila do Bispo.
Prices range from €35 per person for guided walks (which include the transfer shuttle to the location of the walk) to between €135-€145 for complete full-day experiences, which include a guided walk, lunch, a workshop and transportation.
You can learn more about what Algarvian Roots has to offer by vising their website (www.algarvianroots.pt) or their social media pages (Algarvian Roots). You can also visit their office in Silves at Casas da Ribeira, no.107, Quinta Simões.
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