I had of course heard rumours that there was a waterfall near the Galp petrol stations on the road coming into Loulé from Goncinha. I drive past them often enough, and yet, I never saw so much as a trickle of water as I passed by. It’s just such a built up area, and I didn’t understand where it could possibly be?
It’s not exatly obvious even when you stop at the petrol stations themselves, plus your mind is normally busy with the day to day business of refuelling, and you forget that there’s supposedly a little wonder to be found so close by. I suspect that unless you walk by on a regular basis then this sneaky little stream steadily flows past right under most people’s wheels and noses.
Over the years I could have of course made the minimal effort it would take to go and have a proper look, and yet, I never did. I think part of the reason is that I was always a little sceptical about it, and convinced that I would be disappointed, as in all likelihood it would turn out to be a little dribble coming out of a wall in a cramped corner, after all, what else could possibly be there so close to this (relatively) bustling metropolis? However, as The Portugal News is now on a mission to seek out these little gems all across Portugal, I thought I may as well try and find the one, apparently, on my doorstep.
I made a slight deviation off my usual course, and I have to say, I was really quite amazed with what I found. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s Niagara falls, but it’s also not ‘Nothing falls’ either.
Especially not at the moment after all the rain we’ve had recently - water is definitely ‘falling’.
It’s called the ‘Ribeira do Cadoiço’ and it originates from a spring in the Cerro da Cabeça Gorda north of Loulé and snakes its way south, tunnelling underneath the town, and comes overflowing out here at this unlikely location. It then continues winding its way down until it gets to Franqueada, where it joins the Carcavai stream and they continue as one until they reach the Atlantic Ocean in Vale do Lobo.
Now, if youare walking by you can see it from the road, but I’m not going to be too specific and tell you exactly how to get down there, as I don’t want to spoil the fun for any would-be weekend explorers. There are no signs either - so just follow your ears.
Once you find it though, you really won’t believe that such a thing could be where it is, and be prepared to feel a little like Indiana Jones as you cross the stepping stones, trying not to be claimed by the whitewater rapids, and cling onto the side of the cliff and climb up into this lovely little oasis.
The water continuously cascading down and crashing into the stream below drowns out any memory you might have of the hustle and bustle of civilization going on above, and you can sit and seek sanctuary and feel like you have truly escaped into the wilderness.
You probably won’t spend the day there (although don’t let me stop you), but it’s certainly worth a little mini adventure. Perhaps next time you are visiting the Loulé market on Saturday morning, take a little detour up the road towards the traffic lights and beyond, keep your eyes and ears peeled and see if you can discover this wonderful waterfall for yourself.