The National park is called the Parque Natural da Serra de Sao Mamede and it is a protected nature reserve of some 31000 hectares in the north eastern tip of Alentejo on the border of Portugal and Spain. Much overlooked but easy to reach from the new Lisbon to Madrid highway.
The 44km long park was created in 1989 with the aim of protecting wildlife and unusual plants and preserving local traditional life.
The park contrasts with the rolling plains of grain and oak that typify the Alentejo because it comprises a higher area provided by granite, quartzite and schist more characteristic of the Iberian plateau that covers the northern parts of Spain. Within this protected region the mountain range known as the Serra de Sao Mamede at 1025 metres overlooks the vast plains of the Alentejo and into Extremadura in Spain.
The map on the signs for the Parque Natural da Serra de Sao Mamede
By: Chris Jones in Alentejo, Portugal Copyright: © Chris Jones but by all means share on social media!
A young eagle in Vale Lourenço
The convergence in these beautiful mountains of the Mediterranean and Atlantic climates has given rise to a fascinating range of natural vegetation and wild life. Wild flowers are abundant in the spring and early summer. The forest of cork oaks, oaks and olive trees still covers large areas of the Serra. Sweet chestnut trees provide shade and ample nuts for animal life and the chestnuts are used in the traditional recipes of the area.
Wild boar and deer still roam the park. Reptiles and amphibians such as the Iberian frog and Iberian midwife toad make their homes in the Serra's many rivers and watering holes. Kestrels, Bonellis eagle and Egyptian vultures are a common sight circling high overhead. In fact the area supports more than half of the species of birds that breed in Portugal. It is also home to the largest european colony of bats.