Text provided by the Portuguese Tourist Office
In this natural park, which essentially occupies the western slope of the Alvao Mountain, the geology is the major conditioning factor in the natural land-scape.
In all the upper zone, which includes Lamas de Olo and Arnal, the profusion of large granite blocks makes the landscape harsh and angular. The Basal Zone, with its narrow enclosed valleys (Varzigueto, Fervenca and Ermelo) is characterised by schists and by the presence of an abrupt change of altitude, which gives rise to the spectacu-lar Fisgas waterfalls.
Benefiting from the joint effect of the temperate Mediterra-nean type climate and the alpine influ-ences (caused by the altitude), together with the humidity of air masses from the Ocean, the original flora of this region still has a marked presence, despite the recent increase in grazing areas and pine forestation.
The stretches of leafy forest house an enormous biological diversity, with species such as the white birch, the English oak, the black oak, the holly, the bay or the chestnut. The fauna is also exceptional in the Alvao Natural Park because of its diversity and abundance. Amphibians and reptiles are found widely and the birds, particularly birds of prey like the round winged eagle, and smaller birds like the titmouse or the “Estrelinha de cabeca listada” (striped headed star) choose this as a favoured location.
The mammals are mostly small, such as the field mouse or the rabbit and these make up the park’s fauna, although it should be mentioned that the wolf occasionally appears in this protected area.
Ermelo and Lamas de Olo are today considered the most suitable places to visit and find the best examples of popular architecture in the region. Despite the introduction of new standards and technology that has lead. to the replacement of many traditional materials (granite and thatch) with more modern ones, it is still easy to come across small neighbourhoods where granite and schist are dominant.
In the Alvao, we know of a couple who offer 4 x4 offroad guided tours.