Portugal: Algarve Area
ALGARVE, the southernmost province of Portugal on the southwest tip of Europe, is where discovery boats departed in search of new lands and the Moorish settled for centuries. Algarve is divided into three areas — Barlavento, Centro, and Sotavento.
BARLAVENTO consists of the Costa Vicentina, West Coast, Sagres, Southwest Coast, the hills, and the interior. We will make a couple of stops in each area to see the differences in culture, food and nature. We’ll hike along the cliffs of Costa Vicentina to view the majestic Atlantic coast and spot water birds and their nests. We’ll visit Sagres on the southwest coast and southernmost tip of Europe, where the navigation school gave rise to the discovery voyages. We will head for the hills of Silves to visit the cork museum, and then return to the coast to see the famous rock formations on Barlavento beaches.
Castle of Almourol, a fortress built on a rocky island in the Tagus river, Portugal
CENTRO also has three parts — Aldeias, Caldeirao, and the Ria Formosa. We will stop in each of these regions. The villages contrast contemporary and traditional, demonstrating the influx of people and businesses into the region. Caldeirao is a range of small mountains with amazing views and where you can find whitewashed villages among the mountain greenery. The protected area of Ria Formosa is where the Atlantic comes inland bringing flora and fauna into the coastal towns. We will take a tour on the river and go out to the islands to see the beautiful and very long white sand beaches.
SOTAVENTO is again divided into three areas, the Tuna Route, the Serra hills, and the Guadiana. The villages along the Tuna Route were mainly formed by tuna fishermen. These villages thrived and grew into cities because of the tuna canning and salt production industries. The Serra is a range of small mountains where you can find all different villages that survived on basket weaving, linen weaving, and hunting. The Guadiana river flows along the border of Portugal and Spain and is the most eastern part of Algarve. We will visit a castle there that protected Algarve from Spaniard invasions, then head for Spain.
Jerez de la Frontera Cathedral, Andalusia
Spain: Costa de la Luz
After Portugal, we will cross the river Guadiana to Ayamonte in Spain. We will focus on Costa de la Luz, in Spain’s southwest part of Andalucia.
Our first stop will be the National Park Donana, where we will go on a ‘safari’ tour in search of flamingos. We will continue to Sanlucar de Barrameda, the place where Colombo and Fernao de Magalhaes departed on their search for the Americas.
Next, we’ll stop at Jerez de la Frontera to taste Jerez and visit Iberian horses. Following the route a little to the north we will come to Arcos de la Frontera, one of Andalucia’s white villages atop a limestone ridge. We’ll visit Cadiz, an ancient port city and 16th century center for exploration and trade. We will finish our tour of Spain in Tarifa, the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula.
Morocco: Rif Region
From Tarifa, we will cross the Straight of Gibraltar by ferry. Our first night will be in Tangier where we’ll see the cave of Hercules and the American Legation, the first American public property outside the United States.
Here you will get your first taste of Moroccan food and culture. We will focus on the Rif region and will visit Mediterranean beaches and the iconic blue and white city of Chefchaouen. We’ll encounter the red Rif mountain range, which gets redder toward the east, as we approach Ketama.
We will visit the National Parc of Talassemtane, which is the last of the fir forests and home to Maghrebi endemic plant species and the Atlas cedar. Our trip will end Ouezzane where you can fly back home, or you may extend your trip on your own.
Extend Your Trip
There is the opportunity to arrive in Lisbon a few days before this tour, to visit Lisbon and its surrounding areas. Or stay longer to see more of Morocco and its major cities such as Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakesh. Another option is to visit the Atlas Mountains on camel back and stay in a Berber camp in the desert. Or ferry back to Spain and see the amazing triangle, Granada, Cordoba, and Sevilla. The possibilities are endless! Travel on your own, or Maria can plan your trip. Maria is also available to direct a week’s travel on each end of the trip if so desired.
* Included in cost: Transfers, transportation, hotels, all breakfasts, 12 lunches, 12 dinners, all entrance fees, local guides, all gratuities.
Pricing does not include: Flights, travel insurance, 3 lunches, 3 dinners, any extras such as shopping and personal items. Flight assistance can be provided for a fee of $59 fee per ticket. Insurance quote provided individually.
50% deposit due 90 days before departure. Final payment due 30 days before departure.