Fonte da Benémola
Sources of the Ribeira de Menalva between Tôr and Qurença
Located in the Barrocal region of the Algarve between Querença and Tôr, the Fonte da Benémola is a protected area containing ecosystems of significant special interest, not only from the point of view of its geological and landscape features, but also in terms of the fauna and flora living there. This 390-hectare site is one of rare beauty, abounding in species of trees and bushes that are relatively uncommon in the Algarve, whilst some of the animals that are native to this area also justify the special conservation measures taken to protect the wildlife here.
Along the Ribeira da Menalva watercourse, running across the Fonte da Benémola protected area, the flora is both abundant and diversified, with ash-trees, willows, date-trees and wayfaring trees visible among the canes, brambles and oleanders. On the valley slopes along the river, the vegetation is typically Mediterranean, with carob-trees and mastic-trees, thyme and rosemary, rock-roses, junipers, arbutus-trees and different types of olive-trees. In the schist soils at the western limits of the protected areas, this vegetation gives way to holm-oaks and the occasional cork-tree.
The presence of water here all year round also attracts a wide range of animal species. Along the length of the watercourse, it is possible to spot kingfishers, tits, herons, bee-eaters, blackbirds, nightingales, blackcaps and moorhens, living alongside all the frogs, small fish, newts, salamanders and freshwater tortoises down in the water itself. However, the most important animal in this reserve, the otter, is rarely seen, leaving us with only the odd trace of its existence. Furthermore, living in the small caves along the banks of the river, there are two colonies of bats, who have made their habitats here, enjoying both the beauty of their surroundings and their protected status.
In order to best preserve this area, a special footpath has been established along the length of the watercourse, running some 1,500 metres in length and enabling visitors to experience all the natural wealth of this nature reserve. The actual Fonte da Benémola spring, its weirs and water channels are particular points of interest along the route, with a basket-making workshop also to be found nearby, which is open to visitors.
This information is extracted with friendly permission of RTA from their website.