Wild Wild West Algarve - 4 activities to awaken your wild side
Coasteering, biking and donkey trekking are just some of the fun things to do in the west
‘To jump or not to jump’ becomes the question when you’re standing atop a rock 12m high. Surrounded by cliffs and with the Atlantic Ocean below you, coasteering isn’t for scaredy-cats. Despite the fact you’ve been building it up nice and slow, starting with an easy 2m jump, as the cliffs gets higher, launching yourself off the rocks becomes exponentially scarier. It is however, awesome fun. Coasteering allows you to see the Algarvian coastline from a different perspective, exploring some caves along the way.
Coasteering can be done with Coastline Algarve and is usually done either on Praia de Ingrina or near Praia do Amado, depending on the waves and weather conditions. Lifejacket, boots, wetsuit and helmet are provided. Be prepared to get wet, tired and happy.
Ever tried to convince a 400kg donkey to move when it doesn’t really want to? There’s a reason why these animals are called ‘stubborn’. The advantage of their leisurely pace and need for a break every two hours, however, is that it allows you to slow down and enjoy the scenery. See the rugged coastal landscape, hear the waves crashing on the cliffs, smell the eucalyptus, stroke the donkeys and laugh out loud when they go for a roll in the sand on Praia da Amoreira. (And if you are in a hurry, try bribing your donkey with an orange).
Donkey trekking is like dog walking, but with a donkey; which has the added benefit that you don’t have to carry your own bag. It’s possible near Aljezur, on the coast, on the Rota Vicentina Fishermen’s Trail with Burros & Artes and near Monchique, with Project Sanctuary Happy Donkeys – these donkeys walk free, off the lead. Small children can ride on the donkey.
Holistic being with horses
Get in touch with your inner Monty ‘the horse whisperer’ Roberts near Carrapateira. There, the German horse owner Andreas Endries and his team don’t believe in bits, horse shoes or saddles. Instead, they encourage a more natural way of being with horses, using posture and body language instead of reins or whips. In order to learn to communicate with the animal in a positive way, you’ll spend time meditating, doing yoga, breathing exercises and finding inner balance, before spending time with the horses.
Holistic being with horses is near Carrapateira, on the West coast. It’s nothing like a regular horse riding school, but it will teach you a thing or two about passive leadership and self-confidence when getting in touch with horses.
Love to ride that bicycle? You’ll love it even more in the Costa Vicentina Nature Reserve, where old fishermen trails lead to deserted beaches and each climb is rewarded with wonderful vistas over the Atlantic Ocean. Another popular mountain biking area in the west is the clifftop area near Lagos, with its famous Ponte da Piedade golden rock formations – make sure to get a bike with full suspension and a comfy gel saddle so you can deal with smaller rocks on the way. Want even more excitement? Go downhill biking in the mountains near Monchique. Whichever area you choose, keep the holy trinity of mountain biking – that’s ‘Pedals level, head up and heels down’- in mind to improve your posture and control. And keep your eyes on the road (read: dirt road paths) ahead instead of on the scenery, as one wrong turn can result in going off a 20m high cliff…
Mountain biking is possible all over the western Algarve. Bring your own bike, rent one, or go on a guided tour or a biking holiday .
This contribution is written by Yayeri van Baarsen, owner/editor of Enjoy the Algarve.
All photos by Kyle Rodriguez, owner/photographer of Enjoy the Algarve.
About Enjoy the Algarve
Enjoy the Algarve (http://www.enjoythealgarve.com/) is a free monthly online magazine with fascinating articles and gorgeous pictures, made by Yayeri van Baarsen and Kyle Rodriguez. Every edition has a different theme, but it’s always related to the places, people, experiences and activities of the south of Portugal. The magazine’s goal? Inspiring people to, quite simply, enjoy the Algarve. Because there’s way more to do in Portugal’s southernmost region than just lying on a beach!
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