Breathing fresh air, enjoying the sun and the freedom after this long lockdown is what everyone wants and Fontes de Estômbar seems the right place to go, to enjoy a barbecue or to take a walk in nature.
And it is easy to find. Simply travel along the old road between Estombar and Silves, near the village of Estômbar, in the Lagoa County and about 3 km from the mouth of the river Arade, we find a sign that leads us to Sítio das Fontes.
When arriving, there’s a free parking area next to Fontes de Estombar where the adventure begins. Next follows the natural pools, a small outdoor amphitheatre where you might watch shows if you’re lucky, and many spots to sit and read or simply to rest lying on the grass.
In addition to a playground for the children, there is old and restored noria, and a natural route to discover the information about fauna and flora that you are able to find during the walk. Next to the noria, there is the Nature Interpretation Centre - a house in a former rural building that usually provides information about the area.
Besides the two freshwater pools, a bigger one for the adults and a smaller one for the kids, Sítio das Fontes de Estombar is also a great place to have a picnic or even to have a barbecue. There are grills available for visitors to cook their meat or fish grills and eat hot food on the spot, without having to eat the traditional picnic sandwich.
In Sítio das Fontes the human and natural environment goes hand in hand. Forty years ago, this place was visited only by locals of Estômbar, which was also a smaller village where everyone knew each other.
At that time, Fontes de Estômbar were a frequent destination for women who went there on Sundays to do the laundry and spend time with their neighbours. Also many small children who chose Sítio das Fontes de Estômbar to spend their days playing with their friends. The space inside was much smaller and was located only in the small part, just after the first parking area, the biggest pool didn’t exist, nor the space where the tables and the barbecue are now.
Visitors can nowadays can enjoy a swim in the clean water because the human hand has tried to conserve the place as much as possible and every year these natural pools are cleaned. Before - where now we dip - the water was completely filled with water plants.
Retreating further back, according to Lagoa Council website: “The two water mills are the most eloquent testimonies from remote times. The great antiquity of at least one of them is documented in the 15th century Livro do Almoxarifado de Silves. About twenty windmills remain along the Arade River, between Portimão and Silves, almost all of them in poor condition or reduced to ruins, but which attest the importance they once had for the local economy”.
The Fontes of Estâmbar are also the destination of many canoeists or boat trips (when the tide is high). Either by canoe or boat, or by making a more usual visit on foot after parking up, this hidden gem where nature is easily on hand for all visitors is really worth a visit!