Bird-watchers and other nature lovers are gathering in the Algarve this week for Portugal’s premier nature event. Running from 5 to 8 October, the Sagres Bird-Watching & Nature Activities Festival includes a diverse and extensive array of events, including field trips, boat tours, workshops, talks, environmental education activities, bird-ringing sessions, hikes, photography courses, history-themed guided tours and dolphin-watching.
This year’s program also features several novelties including a moonlit walk, excursions to discover animals that live in rock pools, “stargazing through the lens of mythology” and nature table games, as well as special activities for beginners, challenges for children and a “search for migration gold”.
Online reservations for the overall schedule are now closed but tourists visiting Sagres – located at the far western end of the Algarve region – can still register in person at the event’s reception headquarters in the Beliche Fortress and obtain a free festival bracelet.
In addition to participating in the various festival activities, the bracelet also gives visitors access to special prices on offer from local partners, and (from 5 to 7 October) free access to the fortress (which is located on the left side of the road that heads to San Vincent Cape) and the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe).
According to the organisers, the fortress has significant historical and symbolic value in the area, highlighting the “glorious period of the maritime Discoveries” and giving visitors the opportunity of enjoying “one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world”.
One of the oldest chapels in the Algarve, Our Lady of Guadalupe was founded in the 14th century as a chapel of pilgrimage, and it was remodelled in the 15th century, “possibly with the sponsorship of Prince Henry the Navigator, who came here to pray”.
Information on each activity is available in Portuguese, English or both languages.
Announcing details of this year’s “Festival de Observação de Aves & Atividades de Natureza”, Vila do Bispo town hall, organisers of the event in partnership with the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) and the Almargem Association (for the defence of the Algarve’s cultural and environmental heritage), noted, “At this time of year, thousands of birds fly over the Algarve on their way to their wintering grounds in Africa, providing a spectacle worthy of a festival. While hundreds of seabirds pass off the coast, vultures, eagles and storks hover in the air in search of the way to Africa. On land, bushes and trees are stopping places for small birds looking to make the ambitious journey south. Among them is the white-fronted kingfisher, this year’s headliner.
“To celebrate these winged visitors and make the most of this incredible spectacle, the 14th edition of the festival offers four days packed with activities for all tastes. In addition to a variety of birdwatching sessions on land and at sea, this festival offers a panoply of opportunities for nature lovers to discover that the Algarve is much more than just a beach. There is also plenty of choice for families and friends of birdwatchers, such as walks, hikes, talks and challenges for the younger ones.”