5 dangers of the Algarve

Forget about sharks, snakes and spiders. They probably won’t hurt you. Things like rock falls, processionary caterpillars, forest fires, roundabouts and ocean currents; those are the real dangers of the Algarve. Here are five survival tips.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine April 2017

1. Falling rocks

What? Every year cliffs collapse and rocks are falling on Algarve beaches. We’re not talking about tiny pebbles here: the rock that fell from a height of 10m last year at Praia Dona Ana was 5m³. Yup, big enough to crush you completely.
Survival tip: Don’t walk on or underneath rocks or cliffs. Yes, it’s that easy, just choose a different path. Since you probably aren’t going to listen to this advice, use some common sense when walking on or underneath rocks and follow the advice signs. Sandstone cliffs (yup, the pretty ones near Portimão and Albufeira) are more likely to crumble and collapse than limestone ones. And although rockfalls can just be a case of natural erosion, the risk increases with earthquakes, rain or storm.


2. Processionary caterpillars

What? Unfortunately the pine processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa), aka the processionary caterpillar, likes the Algarve too. The poisonous hairs of these horrible creatures cause allergic reactions in humans and other mammals. (They’re called ‘pine processionary’ because they walk through the woods in a nose-to-tail procession).
Survival tip: Stay away from pine trees, especially from January to May. Get a professional to deal with any processionary caterpillars that appear in your garden. If your dog encounters the caterpillars on a walk and eats or licks them, immediately wash out its mouth and call a vet, especially if its tongue starts swelling. Read more about pine processionary in the Algarve here.

Picture by muffinn


3. Forest fires

What? The long, hot and dry Algarvian summers come with a risk of wildfires. Especially if some f*ckwit throws away a burning cigarette in a field on a scorching hot day. Last year, dozens of people had to be evacuated because of the forest fires in the Monchique area that spread south.

Survival tip: Know where the fire risk is by checking out this website. Stay away from forest fires; not only will you be putting your life at risk when going, you’ll also disturb the firemen doing their job. If a fire’s going on near you, keep your land wet and prepare for evacuation. When BBQing, have enough water and sand nearby, make sure to fully extinguish the fire and let it coals and wood cool down afterwards. Also, read this info leaflet.

Picture by Graeme Darbyshire

4. Roundabouts

What? Most people in the Algarve don’t have a clue of the basic concept of a roundabout. No, we’re not overreacting. Enjoy the Algarve had 153 near-death experiences on Portuguese roundabouts last year.
Survival tip: Expect the car in the left lane to take the first right, that car that’s just gotten in the right lane to take the roundabout ¾, and the car that just overtook you to make a circle and go back to where he came from. None of these will have indicated their moves. Take extra care with the single car that’s indicating: that driver left his light on since the turning 3km ago, is still on his phone and will probably just go straight. Don’t get mad and use your claxon, it’ll scare the horse, thus increasing the chances of the gypsy wagon crashing into a car. Be prepared to brake: there’ll be a family of four waiting in the bushes to jump out on the zebra crossing just after the roundabout. Hope the car behind you knows this too.


5. Ocean currents

What? The Atlantic Ocean is awesome, but dangerous. Rip currents, which are common in the south of Portugal, are almost invisible fast-moving water currents that drag you out into the ocean. They’re also strong (read: no matter how fast you swim, you won’t win).
Survival tip: Only swim on lifeguarded beaches and follow the warning signs. For those who think this advice is lame, by all means ignore it. Just don’t be an idiot. If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it, but try to escape by swimming parallel to the beach. Wave for help.

Image by National Weather Service, Wilmington


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine April 2017

Posted in 5 algarvy things.