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Following the Nature Trail at Quinta de Marim

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Following the Nature Trail at Quinta de Marim
May 25, 2015
About three kilometres east of Olhão town centre lies the lovely 60-hectares estate of the Environmental Education Centre of Quinta de Marim. Olhão sits on the edge of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a short 21 minute drive via the N125 motorway with car rental from Faro Airport. For those who prefer not to drive there is a municipal bus which stops just 200 m short of the visitor centre.

If you are looking for a great place to take your kids for a walk or for a bird watching tour that's not too tiring for little legs, this is the place to come.

The Centro Educação Ambiental de Marim has its Park Headquarters and Visitor Interpretation Centre here, which is open from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm every day. The estate itself is open to the public from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm from Monday to Friday and from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm at weekends. During the summer months the estate remains open until 8.00 pm. The Visitor Centre is not just informative and educational about the estate's flora and fauna, but also good fun for young visitors.

A gentle Stroll through Quinta de Marim

A 3 km long nature trail allows visitors to learn more about the park's various habitats and ecosystems, which comprise of a large lagoon, salt marshes and dunes, pine woodlands, farmland, fresh water ponds and wetlands.

One of the highlights along the way are the kennels, home to the rare and mysterious Portuguese water-dog, the very breed US President Obama keeps in the White House. The origins of the water-dog are lost in the mist of time, but they were historically used by local fishermen. The clever dogs helped to drive fish into nets.

Bird Watching at Quinta de Marim

The park is teeming with wildlife, especially aquatic birds, and is a fantastic day trip destination for birdwatchers. Visitors aiming for the Wild Birds Rehabilitation Centre should call ahead to make an appointment. Head to the marshland habitats and see terns, gulls and waders at low tide. If find yourself in the freshwater pond ecosystem, look out for the Purple Swamphen, for this is the colourful hen's natural habitat. For this reason, the Purple Swamphen has become the emblem for the entire park.

If you are very, very quiet while hiking through the surrounding pine woodlands you might spot a rare Chameleon or see an Azure-winged Magpie, a Sardinian Warbler or a Hoopoe.

In the winter, more than 20,000 aquatic birds from northern and central Europe rest up in the Ria Formosa lagoons, dunes, salt marshes and ponds before returning home. Other important bird species include the Red-crested Pochard and the Little Bittern.

The circular walk leads back to the car park and Visitor Centre, where tired legs of all ages will appreciate being greeted by their rental car from Faro Airport.
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