Geotourism is a type of tourism that is based on the geological environment. It begins with an understanding of the Abiotic (non-living) environment, to build greater awareness of the Biotic (living) environment of plants and animals as well as the cultural environment of people, past and present.
In the Algarve
The concept of geotourism that is related with what is been done in the Algarve is Geological Tourism:
«Tourism that sustains and enhances the identity of a territory, considering its geology, environment, culture, aesthetic values, heritage and the well-being of its residents. Geological tourism is assumed as one of the diverse components of geotourism. Geological tourism is a fundamental tool for the conservation, dissemination and enhancement of the Earth and Life’s past (…) » (Declaration of Arouca, 2011)
In the Algarve, there is a huge variety of places with geological interest that close several chapters of the Earth’s history, about 400 million years ago. There are special and unique places for their geodiversity, but also for their biodiversity and material and immaterial cultural heritage. It is in these selected places that we propose our geotouristic and geological tourism activities.
We highlight 2 sites in the Center of the Algarve that are part of the Algarvensis Geopark (aspiring to UNESCO World Geopark) – Rocha da Pena (Loulé) and Vale Fuzeiros (Silves).
1. Rocha da Pena
Here you can do an infinite number of walking routes, where each rock and each place correspond to a piece of a puzzle from a long history of 230 million years! Geodiversity allows us to travel back in time to the Triassic period and tell the story of the Algarve super salamander and others (like Metoposaurus algarvensis, phytosaurs and placodonts), when dinosaurs were taking their first steps on Earth. Furthermore, the biodiversity of the place, allows us to discover a true Mediterranean ecossystem that contains some species of endemic flora. Plus, the cultural heritage is evidenced by the testimonies left by the people who inhabited this area and by the people who still live in these rural areas.
2. Vale Fuzeiros
This is a place of excellence to go back in time, 315 million years ago, before the formation of the Atlantic Ocean and where you can find the records of the birth of this ocean. Here the “Grés de Silves” (a set of reddish rocks) dominates, which define the geographical relief and the natural and cultural landscape. It was geodiversity that favoured the establishment of the first inhabitants in this territory, witnessed by megalithic monuments (menhirs) and other cultural phenomena such as necropolises excavated in the red sandstones. It is also this geodiversity that conditions the characteristic biodiversity that is found there.
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