Rio Guadiana, querido imagem do meu olhar
Quem me dera ir contigo Rio Guadiana, querido
Nas ondas que vão p’ró mar.

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The Rio Guadiana is one of the biggest rivers in the Iberian peninsula, which for its last 60km forms the border between the Portuguese Algarve and Spanish Andalucia. Used for cargo transport since Phoenecian times, the river is now the preserve of pleasure boats, traditional river fishermen and the occassional tourist boat.

The river winds it's way through beautiful undeveloped countryside – the “Algarve Natural” – a nature lover's paradise, whose colours and character change with the seasons. The river is teaming with fish including mullet, carp, lamprey, eels and shrimps.

For the ornithologist there's a rich diversity of birdlife including Golden Orioles, Egrets, Azure Winged Magpies, Kingfishers, Partridges, Buzzards and Eagles. There is inevitably a great variety of species between the salt lagoons of Castro Marim downstream near the sea, and the upstream species inland in the Alentejo approaching Mértola.

The river valley is a Special Area of Conservation in the EU’s Natura 2000 project.

In quiet moorings in the countryside, especially in the little tributaries, it's often possible to see turtles and otters. At night there is often the sound of wild boar and deer coming to drink or even swimming across. And the locals also have a long history of swimming across, as many were smugglers during the epoch of fascist governments both sides of the border. But since the revolution in 1974, the EU and Shengen, things are cool on the river.

There are numerous well signposted walking routes in the area. At night with very little “light polution”, as Alcoutim is the least densely populated area in Portugal, the display of stars is often breathtaking.

The villages and towns along the river are rich in the cultural history of the region, with cafés and restaurants serving a traditional range of local dishes. Between Foz de Odeleite and Alcoutim there is a small road that follows the river, but north of Alcoutim the only way to see the river is afloat, as it was for centuries as ferries travelled from Mértola to the sea.

Whether it’s for a night-stop on a touring holiday, or for a few days break where you can discover a hidden side of of the Rio Guadiana, you’ll find the experience a pleasure with a warm welcome.