Anabela Santos, Almargem

Almargem wants teachers and students to “discover” Via Algarviana trail

A digital educational guide which aims to encourage teachers and students to “discover” the Via Algarviana has been launched by Almargem, the environmental association that manages the trail.

The guide has already been tested successfully by around 246 students and teachers from schools in Aljezur, Castro Marim, Monchique and Vila do Bispo.

It was officially unveiled on March 3 and is now available to anyone on the trail’s website.

“We wanted to work more regularly and more intensely with the school community, but we weren’t being successful,” Anabela Santos from Almargem told Barlavento newspaper.

Hopes are that the new guide will show teachers that the Via Algarviana is a “tool that is available all year round” and which they can use to promote physical activity such as by taking children on short hikes. It can also be used as an outdoor classroom where students can explore local flora and fauna.

For now, however, the guide is only available in Portuguese.

“I would like teachers to know that the Via Algarviana is not just about its tourist aspects, it is not just a walking trail, it can be used as an environmental education resource,” said Anabela.

As she pointed out, teachers often struggle to find different activities to engage their students and the Via Algarviana could become a viable alternative.

“While we were testing the guide, we noticed that there is a complete lack of knowledge about the countryside, in this case among the children from Altura. There was only one child who knew a bit more because his grandparents lived in an inland village,” Anabela told the paper.

New routes, guide and website
Anabela Santos also revealed that the association is working on adding new routes to the Via Algarviana, one of which starts in Silves and takes hikers to Parchal’s train station.

“It is a very beautiful route that is set against the Arade River and which passes through Estômbar’s Sítio das Fontes. It also features paddy fields, a landscape that is not usually associated to the Algarve and which we did not have yet in the trail,” said Anabela.

There are also plans to unveil a new route in Martim Longo (Alcoutim).

Almargem is also working on a new guide which will be available in six languages – Portuguese, English, French, Dutch, German and Spanish – and will be “lighter and easier to carry” as well as a new website.

Fire-ravaged Monchique remains popular
Despite the devastating effects of the 2018 wildfire which ripped through the borough, Monchique remains a popular destination for hikers, Anabela Santos confirmed.

She added that the association is about to receive a €155,000 grant via the ‘Revitalise Monchique’ project which aims to breathe new life into Monchique by recovering hiking and cycling trails that were destroyed by the wildfire as well as creating new ones.

Original article written by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper.