Although there is a date marked on the calendar to commemorate International Mother Earth Day, April 22, Alentejo is a committed region that works 365 days a year to keep the planet healthy and make everything that she offers. In fact, last January, the prestigious publication The New York Times included the destination in its list of “52 places for a changed planet”, in recognition of the sustainability program of Alentejo wines and its performance in protecting of biodiversity and the reduction of around 20% in water consumption in the wineries of the region.
The Alentejo is the sea and the countryside, it is its animals and its cultures, it is the companies that carry out their activities with sustainable methods and it is its people who live with the nature of the region, appreciate it and love it. Here are six ways to celebrate Earth Day, the best destination for it:
Inland and coastal hiking trails
Due to its beautiful landscapes and biodiversity, Alentejo’s hiking trails are among the most famous in the world. Among the best known are the Ruta Vicentina and the TransAlenrejo. Whether on foot or by bike, they allow you to explore the whole region at the desired pace and difficulty and with them you can observe the contrasts between the interior and the Alentejo coast, one of the best preserved in Europe. An unforgettable experience to get in touch with destiny, nature and oneself.
To contemplate this wonderful country in its entirety, there is no better way to do so than to take a step back. For this reason, a hot air balloon ride is one of the best options if you are visiting Alentejo.
Lake Alqueva is the ideal setting for this, where the blue of the water mixes with the islands of oaks and cork oaks, accompanied by the particular light of the Alentejo. The same goes for Castro Verde, belonging to the district of Beja, where its idyllic windmills and the green of its lands stand out.
Bird and Whale Watching
The fauna is also one of the characteristics of this region which has the privilege of sheltering species as unique as the Iberian lynx or the Lusitano horse. A perfect plan if you are traveling with family is to go to the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, a protected area where you can see birds such as flamingos, storks and ducks, and where you can also see various species of fish or even bottlenose dolphins. . . A unique experience that falls in love.
Direct gastronomy “From the land to the table”
Another of the protagonists of the Alentejo is, without a doubt, its gastronomy, famous throughout the world for its traditional dishes, made with top quality local products, and its wines with designation of origin.
Through gastronomy, you can also immerse yourself in the nature of the region with the “From the land to the table” food and wine routes, which offer different activities to get to know Alentejo cuisine and its sustainable creation processes in depth. From the harvest, to participating in the olive harvest or visiting small fishing villages; These visits, carried out in the company of local producers and businesses, allow you to discover first-hand the secrets of one of the best cuisines in the world.
The cork route
The Alentejo has the largest area of cork oaks in the world, the tree from which the famous cork is extracted. And it is that this material has become one of the symbols of the region due to its incredible applications since it involves a very simple transformation process and little work, which makes it very durable. Once in the region, the traveler will see it applied to the facades of warehouses as well as to many objects, including original slippers and even ties.
But beyond seeing it, the Alentejo allows you to feel it through hiking trails, such as the Grande Rota do Montado, which integrates 14 municipalities of central Alentejo, such as Évora, Estremoz or Arraiolos. Here, you can not only visit towns rich in heritage and landscapes, but also bathe in the forest for total immersion in nature.
Rural and sustainable accommodation
As a country chic destination, the Alentejo has many rural accommodations fully integrated into the environment and responsible for the ecosystem. Here are some examples :
Montimerso Skyscape Countryhouse: With a unique, modern and minimalist character, this hotel, located on the outskirts of Monsaraz, offers complete immersion in nature. During the day, it allows you to contemplate the landscape and the fauna of the place and, at night, it reduces light pollution to let the mantle of stars of the Dark Sky Alqueva reserve shine.
Gavião Nature Village: This hotel has Galmping tents and shelters lined with cork and equipped with ecological and sustainable furniture. In addition, he tries to reduce his ecological footprint with solar panels and promotes activities such as garbage collection and tree planting.
Tivoli Évora Ecoresort: Located a few kilometers from Évora, it was the first ecological hotel to receive the Bisphere Certificate in Portugal. It combines its eco-responsible spirit with exceptional services such as a spa and an outdoor swimming pool, which offer maximum pleasure in contact with nature.
For all this and more, the Alentejo is undoubtedly the ideal place to enjoy nature and the best destination for travelers who want to contribute, like the locals, to leaving future generations a better planet.