Updated: Jul 24, 2019
One of my favorite things to do outdoors besides laying on a beach with a good book is hiking. Summer, winter or fall - I love the great outdoors! So when a friend told me about the best hike she has ever been on happened to be in the area of where I was headed, I immediately signed up and paid the deposit. And let me tell you, it was worth every step on my poor sore feet and every penny.
Where is the End of the World?
The beautiful Algarve is definitely not to be missed when visiting the peaceful country of Portugal. Golden sandy beaches run for hundreds of kilometers along the southern coast, and some of the world's tallest, most jagged cliffs run along the western coast - the conjunction where the two meet is known as Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent).
Early explorers believed that this southwesternmost point was literally the end of the world - where the sun set into the sea, and the sea fell off into the abyss at the horizon. No one dared to sail the sea here as the waves were murderous - these days you can find the bravest of surfers riding the giant waves, and adventurous hikers like me who make the pilgrimage see what the fuss was really all about. And am I ever glad I did!
Find Someone Who Will Hike to the End of the World with You.
You can most definitely do the hike without a guide, however I would certainly recommend that you don't hike alone.
This area is very remote, the cliffs are super tall, and there are plenty of rocks to trip and fall on. You would likely want a buddy to help you back if you twist an ankle or share the gorgeous sunset with. Luckily for me, I was able to convince someone pretty great to do the hike with me.
Hire Your Guide
We were referred to The West Coast Adventure Co. by my friend, and T.J., the owner and lead guide, could not have made the day more perfect. T.J. and his co-guides met us in town in Lagos, and took us to our trail head in his groovy camper van. He understands the area thoroughly, the smells, sounds, taste, and feel of the hike - you will not go on a hike like this one.
The Five Senses of the Hike
We took time to learn about our fellow hikers, told stories and helped each other ensure we enjoyed the day with all of our five senses.
Your eyes will feast on the boundless beauty of the Portugal coastline. The unique colorful rocks that make the cliffs, golden sand, blue waves, and gorgeous flora that surrounds the area. If you're lucky, you will see a white crane, some pelicans, and even a fox! As the sun sets throughout the day, you will notice the water and rocks take on a different color and shape, and the sky turns all colors of cotton candy. The heights of these cliffs are unreal - so if you have even a slight fear of heights - I would say this hike may not be for you. But use your common sense, and don't walk to close to the ledge if that's not something you're experienced with. The wind is strong, strong enough to push you all different directions. So brace your self and enjoy the views!
One regretful sighting, unfortunately, was witnessing the litter that lined some of the beaches. The smaller pieces where we could, was collected by our group. I have always tried to be environmentally conscious, but seeing the disheartening array of plastic litter only helped to make me more aware of my single-use plastic consumption. All little actions add up - so I will continue to do my part to reduce waste.
We stood next to the ocean and listened to the waves crash against the cliffs. I love the unique sound of the sea rocks tumbling against each other as the wave pulls back into the ocean. The wind is definitely one sound you can't drown out. It is super windy - super duper windy. Layers is a must!
3. Touch & Feel
My legs and feet felt most of the hike (ha!). We were on our feet for over 12 hours that day, and being the only girl in the troop, I was at times jogging to keep up with the guys. You will walk through sandy beaches, hard and dry dusty grounds, and climb up and down the cliffs using ropes left behind by fishermen. Again, please use your best judgement - I-did-it-because-the-boys-did, probably isn't the best call. But here I am, alive another day to write this blog post.
4 + 5. Smell & Taste
The area is full of all different wonderful plants and herbs. We stopped to smell the roses, literally, felt some of the gummy succulents, and smelled and tasted some of the native herbs in the area (rosemary and thyme to name a few). We found the most perfect spot to watch the most beautiful sunset. When the sky got dark, we rolled out some blankets and T.J. prepared a simple yet delicious Portugese picnic for us. We sipped wine, watched the stars, and ate delicious homemade food. After the picnic, we were transported back to town where we made our way home.
Note: What to Pack
Ensure you pack lots of layers, snacks, extra compostable trash bags, and sunscreen. My favorite hiking items can be found here.