The cork route and the Algarve hills

The cork route and the Algarve hills

Did you know that the best cork in the world is produced in the hills of the Serra do Caldeirão? That Portugal is the world's main exporter and that apart from supplying corks for the best wines, cork is for example increasingly used in fashion and used in Nasa spaceships. 

The cork oak tree (Quercus suber) grows mainly on soils of schist and will live on average for 150 to 200 years. Cork has unique characteristics such as impermeability, elasticity, lightness, its combustion is very slow and it is a good thermal and acoustic isolator. It is a natural, recyclable and biodegradable material. A cork forest attracts a huge variety of species of fauna and flora. But besides triggering a complex food chain, the exploitation of cork also serves as an important economic resource for the people of the Serra do Caldeirão. 

From the tree to finished products, the cork undergoes several processes: the stripping (removal of bark), the rest period and the industrial process. For each tree this cycle is repeated every nine years. The Algarve cork production reached its peak in the 19th century and had its centre in São Brás de Alportel. 

On this tour we want to show and explain you the production process and its impact on the natural and social heritage of the Serra do Caldeirão and São Brás do Alportel where we will also visit the cork museum. Furthermore we will visit there the costume museum and take you on a small flora and fauna observation walk. Lunch at ta local restaurant facing the river gives you the opportunity to taste the regional flavours of the Serra do Caldeirão gastronomy.

On the tour are Bushnell binoculars and telescope available as well as identification guides for fauna and flora. You will be transported in a comfortable minivan equiped with dvd player and several documentories and you will be guided by a certified nature guide for the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Institute (ICNB).

  • Duration: full day
  • Departure: flexible
  • Minimum of 2 participants
  • Participants are advised to wear comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Tour is available all year round, subject to availability

Price: 70 euro, optional lunch, excluding drinks: 12 euro

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