In a secluded valley in the Serra da Sao Mamede, Alto Alentejo, Portugal.

The grounds at the Quinta

The mountain stream called the Ribeira de Arronches

The Quinta is a very private property.  Standing on a hectare of land, it is bordered by about 240 metres of mountain stream called the Ribeira de Arronches.

There are over 100 olive trees on the property together with orange, fig, lemon, cherry, pear and apricot trees.

The secluded terraces of olives and old vines have been uncultivated and ungrazed for many years. It's a pristine habitat hosting the greatest profusion of wild flowers in the whole valley. It is known locally for its particular abundance of wild oregano which is sought for flavouring olives.

A multi-coloured carpet of spring flowers and herbs attracts butterflies and other fascinating creatures.   Throughout the summer it is soothing to stroll through the tall mint as it releases clouds of small butterflies.

A wonderful place, peace and quiet. An interesting area to explore. Thank you and we would like to come back.

Nature lovers can enjoy the wealth created by the Ribeira de Arronches as it carves a fertile corridor into the schist and quartzite hills where it concentrates diverse plant life and wildlife.

From the terrace below the house looking north towards the peak of the Serra de Sao Mamede.

From the terrace below the house looking north towards the peak of the Serra de Sao Mamede

A bench and hammock on the lowest terrace beside the Ribeira da Arronches stream.

A bench and hammock on the lowest terrace beside the Ribeira da Arronches stream." src="images/river-seat-hammock.jpg

The Ribeira da Arronches

The Ribeira da Arronches

A hammock between olive trees next to the stream

It's often 5 degrees cooler in the hammock by the cascading stream.

Meadow flowers covering a terrace along side the mountain stream

Meadow flowers covering a terrace along side the mountain stream. The property has an area of 0.89 hectares.

An olive terrace

An olive terrace below the house.

A farmer ploughing with a mule

The neighbouring farmer ploughs the terraces opposite with a mule.

Damsel fly

Along the ribeira the brightly coloured dragonfly and damselfly dance in the afternoon heat and some mornings you might be lucky enough to glimpse an Egyptian mongoose hurriedly finding its way down the terrace walls after their nocturnal ramblings.

Above the Quinta a mountain habitat with thin soil and rock loving plants contrasts with the scene down at the ribeira where aspen and willow with their roots in the water provide a leafy loam and shade supporting lush plants, ferns and fungi.

Over a few metres the variation between the rocky environment above and the lushness below creates a diverse range of habitats, a richness in flora in spring to challenge botanists and an abundance of small creatures to occupy any naturalist and wildlife photographer with a macro lens.   Perfect for parents to introduce an appreciation of nature to their children.

Abundant small fauna to fascinate and occupy the macro photography enthusiast

The concentration and diversity of flora and the diminutive fauna it supports attracts birds. Some inhabit the Quinta whilst others use the valley as a highway.

The smaller birds appear unfazed by human presence possibly because there are so few people here. Strolling quietly around the terraces it is possible that a fleeting half dozen long tail tits will ignore you as they forage for insects in the branches of aspen and willow a few feet above your head.

In spring nightingales will charm you with their elaborately sweet tones. This part of the Sao Mamede Natural Park is perfect for bird-watching and botanical studies or observation.

More pictures of the flowers and butterflies are on the Sao Mamede Nature page.

Butterflies thrive in this pristine habitat from February until late summer. They are a very good indicator of a clean harmonious environment.