Ludo and Lagoa de São Lourenço is a great place for an easy 1 to 2hr stroll through freshwater and brackish lagoons, small woodlands, saltpans and saltmarshes.
The circular walk takes you past one of the best golf courses in the Algarve, and if you want to make a day of it there are beaches. We discovered the walk through a birdwatching guide – more details below – and it is a favourite area for locals wishing to jog or cycle. We spent nearly 3hrs as there is also a hide, and we were lucky enough to spot the Purple Swamphen and a Little Bittern fishing.
On our visit in May we were fortunate enough to see nesting waders and also young Coots and Little Grebes. The latter we watched climbing on to their mother’s back to travel across the lagoon.
Be aware that the walk is popular with locals, even early in the morning at weekends, and you will probably find that the views from one of the hides will be better in the early evenings. This walk is even for those not into birdwatching as there are some lovely views, and it is interesting walking round the edge of the golf course as well as through working saltpans. If you prefer to cycle then it is a great route for you too, and most of the locals seem to use it for jogging!
To get there ignore any books or blogs which tell you to park in Quinta do Lago – that’s a really long way round involving lots of roundabouts in the resorts. The best way is from the Faro airport roundabout, follow the signs for Faro beach. The road goes around the airport, and as it passes the end of the runway – shortly before crossing the bridge to Faro Island – you will see parking spaces on both sides of the road. If you have driven this is where to leave the car! Right on the corner by the end of trees you will see a gate with white pillars this is the start and finish of the walk.
The walk is along a wide track – initially with the river on one side and lagoons on the other. At the first clump of trees you have the choice of turning right through the saltpans and then left up towards the golf course and villas, or you can continue straight on towards the beaches before turning right to skirt the edge of the golf course and meander through the wood back towards the saltpans.
If you are interested in birdwatching, then we highly recommend buying a copy of birdwatching guide to the algarve, it was produced by Portuguese Tourism and is available in some of the local Tourist offices. We found our copy in the Tavira office, having originally learnt about it online.
There are 32 excursions, and whilst the book does not cover our favourite saltpans in Olhão
it has taken us to some great finds of which Ludo and Lagoa de São Lourenço is one. The maps in the guide are quite good, and although the dots for the walks are not always quite accurate they are good enough to guide you round. There is also a very useful list of birds you can expect to see at the back.