The hills of the Alentejo, in which the São Mamede Natural Park is found are just two hours inland from Lisbon on Portugal’s border with central Spain, and are widely recognised as on of Europe’s most beautiful and unspoilt areas. The hills run along the border and spill over into Spanish Extremadura as the Sierra de San Pedro, with the highest point at 1,025 metres, Pico de Sao Mamede.

It is a mystical region of wooded hills, rocky crests and fertile valleys, criss-crossed with mediaeval tracks and archaeological remains – a region where time has simply stood still. Life has changed little in the picturesque white-washed villages where bread, cheeses and regional wines are still produced in traditional ways, and local produce feeds the communities.

The Serra de Såo Mamede, a Natural Park since 1989, is at the junction of the Mediterranean and Atlantic climatic zones giving a diverse fauna and flora typical of both. Cork oak woodlands and olive groves mingle with sweet chestnut and Pyrenean oak, and botanists will be interested in the numerous types of wild flowers here.

It is also a fascinating are for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers being home to rare wildlife such as wolf, lynx, boar and over 120 resident and migratory bird species such as vultures, and eagles including the Bonellis Eagle, the Park’s emblem.