The sand dunes at Guincho on the Lisbon Coast are a protected nature reserve where wild plants and animals live harmoniously amongst the sandy peaks and troughs which are in a constant state of change thanks to the strong winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean.
The dunes occupy a wide area covering several square kilometres with the hills of Sintra to the north, beaches directly to the west and most intriguing of all the wooden boardwalk constructed so that visitors can enjoy the dunes and wildlife without disturbing or harming them.
Duna da Cresmina is a desert by the sea and the boarded walkways that ring the white sand give a glimpse of what might otherwise be a hazardous landscape to explore.
The wildlife racks up an impressive array of beasties including vipers, wild hares, various birds of prey, a clutch of lizards and a selection of beetles including dung and stags.
Ants also make their home in the sand; large black ants who seem to cower when larger quarry appears, a behavioural trait I’ve never witnessed in them before.
The plant life is varied too and includes thistles, herbs, ferns, palms and some rarer species.
The walk around Duna da Cresmina should take you an hour at a steady pace, longer of course if you’re packing a camera or some binoculars for bird spotting which is not an uncommon sight.
Part way round you’ll encounter a small stone house which has a well at the far end. Someone has kindly written “Hell’s Entrance” over the door which doesn’t make it spooky in the slightest.
Scary stone houses aside, the location, flora and fauna, wildlife and vistas make the walk around Duna da Cresmina a lovely experience and one you should definitely indulge in should you find yourself in the area.