The Smuggling Route MTB

Code: Contrabandista_mtb01
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  • Guided
  • Sportive** (2/4)
  • Bike Journey
  • MTB or E-MTB
  • 8 days
  • aprox. 70 Km / 43,50 Miles
  • Yes
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8 Days
7 Nights
6 Stages

Total Distance
400 km

Total of climbing

Total of descents


This is a route filled with history that takes place in the deep Alentejo and with the Spanish border always on the horizon. Inspired by old smuggling stories between the Portuguese and the Spanish, it was for decades the main way of life to those who lived near the border. Coffee, porcelain and other products were carried on the sly between winding paths that separated Portugal from Spain. This activity, in wich many risked their lives, took place mainly at night, so that it was easier to escape the control of guards.
The purpose of this tour is not, at all, to advocate smuggling, but rather to understand how it was a way to bring people together and a way to connect different populations. On this trip you will have the opportunity to contemplate the magnificent natural beauty of the Alentejo and to spend the night in several fantastic locations that preserve their origins and traditions.


- History, culture and milenar traditions;
- Sleeping in Castles and farmhouses;
- Monsaraz medieval castle;
- Quiet and amazing tarmac roads along stunning landscapes with vineyards, oak and olive trees;
- Crossing the biggest artifical lake of Europe;
- Riding in two different countries: Portugal and Spain;
- International awarded wine tasting;
- Delicious regional Portuguese gastronomy from the Alentejo;


Day 1 - Arrival in Monsaraz

Meeting point: Faro or Lisbon Airport or directly at your hotel in Monsaraz. If you requested a pick up at Faro or Lisbon Airpor, a member of Bikesul's staff will welcome you, providing you with detailed information about the destination and the Tour. Then, the transfer will take you directly to the hotel in Monsaraz, a small medieval village that has managed to maintain its characteristics over the centuries. A visit to Monsaraz is also a journey through time, as it is a unique place where you can still find the peace and tranquility forgotten by modern times. If you arrive with time, after the bike setup we will go out for a ride around Monsaraz that will allow you to explore the medieval village and its surroundings, passing by places of enormous beauty and historical interest, such as menhirs, tapirs, Roman bridges or the Xerez cromeleque that dates back to the 5th millennium BC. Including also a visit to the fantastic river beach of Monsaraz before going back up to the castle. A perfect 20km ride warm up to start this trip!
Dinner and accommodation in Monsaraz.

Bikesul Monsaraz loop

Day 2 - Monsaraz - Noudar Castle (75 km / 47 mi - Total elevation 900 m)

Descending the medieval sidewalk, start this journey by crossing the Alqueva, the largest artificial lake in Europe! On the other side you will find the village of Mourão, a real treasure on the edge of Lake Alqueva. The hills and the old walls now make admirable cuts to ride and discover new landscapes at every moment, which are completed with a very well preserved historic center and a castle that transports us in time. Continuing our journey, we will cycle through the new village of Luz, a place that replaced the old Luz that is now submerged by the waters of Alqueva. The trip promises to "warm up" with the passage through Amareleja, the place where the highest temperature was recorded until today in Portugal. We then ride towards Valencia del Mombuey, a small village in Spain just 8km away with a strong connection to Portugal. End this day by crossing the Ardila River and returning to Portuguese territory that gives access to the Noudar Castle.
Dinner and accommodation in Noudar - Barrancos.

Find out more about your destination for this day:

Day 3 - Noudar Castle - Herdade da Negrita (60 km / 38 mi - Total elevation 1250 m)

This will be the most challenging day that starts with the demanding climb to Barrancos after passing through the Murtega stream where you can visit an old water mill at Fonte da Pipa. Climbing to Barrancos we will pass by the old Minancos mine and then access the center of the village.
While resting for a while, enjoy the panoramic view over Spain from the viewpoint in the center of the village. Continue the journey towards south, entering the forest perimeter of Herdade da Contenda, a protected area of ​​elevating natural interest. The peak of Serra Morena marks the border. On the other side we will cycle again in Spain with the town of Rosal de la Frontera on the horizon. Turning to the north back to Portugal we head to Herdade da Negrita, where we will spend the night.
Dinner and accommodation in Herdade da Negrita.

Day 4 - Herdade da Negrita - Serpa (70 km / 44 mi - Total elevation 800 m)

Leaving Herdade da Negrita, we follow rural roads in the parish of Santo Aleixo da Restauração that lead to Sobral da Adiça, and then Pias, one of the most popular places in Baixo Alentejo for the quality of the wine it produces. It is at this time that we meet the route network of Serpa Cyclin'Portugal center, following the black route in its opposite direction towards the town of Serpa.
A few kilometers from the left bank of the Guadiana, stands the town of Serpa, dating back to the Roman domain, about 2,000 years ago. The first impression we get when approaching Serpa is the view of the great castle wall and the Portas de Moura and Beja doors. In the east side of the wall it's possible to see the vast solar of the counts of Ficalho, also standing out the altered aqueduct in Italian arcade that extends to the end of the southern wall. Inside the village, the layout of the streets, which open onto large squares, gives Serpa a very unique character.

Day 5 - Serpa - Mértola (60 km / 38 mi - Total elevation 950 m)

On this day, start by climbing up to the Pousada de S. Gens, where you will enjoy the immense panorama of the plains  punctuated by the vast olive groves that surrounds Serpa. Descending to the Guadiana, we will ride a beautifull singletrack on the bank of the river, usually trampled by the cattle that abound there.
Ribeira de Limas and Barranco de Vale Covo form the valleys that make this day a bit harder in this area of ​​tranquility and impressive natural beauty.
After a quick stop at a local tavern in Corte Sines we continue towards Mértola.
The arrival at Mértola is exciting and fun. A singletrack overlooking the village, lead us to the place of Além-Rio which is located on the east bank of the Guadiana River. On the other side you can contemplate the magnificent beauty of the village of Mértola.
Dinner and accommodation in Mértola.

Day 6 - Mértola - Alcoutim (67.5 km / 42 mi - Total elevation 1,100 m)

A very special day with a variety of trails and impressive landscapes. With a somewhat physically demanding start, we head northeast towards the village of Mina de São Domingos, nowadays an exclusive touristic place that was an important place in the past given the existence of mining exploration. The entrance to the village is through the river beach of Tapada Grande, a place of great beauty and interest.


It finished its work in 1966, but after the sale of the machinery and everything that was possible to dismantle at the time it kept everything else in the open: buildings now in ruins, remains of railroad tracks, mounds of black earth, rusty structures, excavations abandoned and a lake of acid black waters, where a fish does not live.


Going through this complex causes strangeness and perplexity. There are spaces taken by nature, but there are others that not even 52 years after the last extraction have brought life back. It is a whole brown, yellow, black, silent…
But it is this almost unrealistic scenario, motivated by the vandalization following the abandonment, its ruin and time, that transformed the place now into a tourist spot that attracts more and more visitors. It seems that we are making a trip to a base located on the planet Mars, but in the heart of the Alentejo. The mine was active between 1854 and 1966, and more than 20 million tons of ore left its deposits, mainly copper, zinc, lead and sulfur, exploited by the British company Mason & Barry, which brought an English lifestyle to the region. which contrasted at the time with the poor and humble people of the land. There are still traces of this passage. The old spas, the cypress trees that brought calm and height to the cemetery and many, many stories remembered by the elders who still lived those times as children.  This was the most dynamic period in the territory. Mina even hosted some innovations in the country: it had basic sanitation and electricity in the English neighborhoods, a cinema that showed a lot of silent films and it is even said that the first Cinemascope projector in Portugal was at the Mine. In the S. Domingos Mine, for example, one of the first railway lines in the country was built, to make the connection between the Mine and the old river port in Pomarão, which allowed the flow of the ore through the Guadiana River. It also received the first power plant in Alentejo. In addition, supported by mining activity, there was a dynamic local society with access to various services, such as a theater or a hospital.
Continuing for 17km along the old railroad we reach Pomarão where we cross the border to Spain, then following the GR114 route along the Guadiana to San Lucar where we will cross the river by boat to Alcoutim.
Dinner and accommodation in Alcoutim.

Day 7 - Alcoutim - Praia Verde (72.5 km / 45 mi - Total elevation 1,100 m)

The last day of cycling connects the historic village of Alcoutim to the Algarve coast. The first part is challenging with a long and demanding climb that will take us to the very small town of Corte Tabelião. Continuing across the plateau to the south, we pass through Corte da Seda before descending to the Guadiana River, to the ancient Roman village of Montinho das Laranjeiras. We then continue by the river, passing through small localities like Guerreiros do Rio, Foz de Odeleite and Almada de Ouro. The historic village of Castro Marim and the marshland natural reserve precede the arrival to one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve, "Praia Verde" beach .
Dinner and accommodation in Praia Verde.

Day 8: Departure
After a relaxing and tasty breakfast is time to pack and say "adeus".
Transfers to the airport will be arranged but if you’re planning on staying a few extra days, let us know if we can help with a few recommendations.


What's Included

  • 7 nights of accommodation Bed & Breakfast (half board basis available upon request);
  • Transfer from and to the airport;
  • Experient and professional Bike Guide along the journey;
  • Support vehicle team assistance;
  • Luggage transfer between hotels;
  • Briefing and travel road book;
  • Bikesul App with navigation function or GPS device with pre loaded courses;
  • KTM Ultra Fun equipped with signaling lights;
  • Saddle bag with an extra inner tube, levers, mini pump;
  • Helmet;
  • Bikesul exclusive water bottle offer.
  • Bikesul jersey offer;
  • Picnic Lunches during the rides;
  • Nutrition and hydration kits;
  • Personal Accidents and liability Insurance;

Minimum: 4 participants.

Not Included:

  • Flights;
  • Lunches;
  • Any beverages consumed with meals that are included in the package;
  • Extra equipment non-specified as included;
  • Mini-bar and extra consumptions not mentioned on the program;
  • Travel Insurance;

  • Side and handlebar bags;
  • Bike Upgrade;
  • Extra-nights (under request);

Bike Rental

This tour includes:
KTM Ultra Fun 29' (Aluminium)

Available for Upgrade:
KTM Myroon One 29' (Carbon)

Full-Suspension KTM Scarp Elite 29' (Carbon)

KTM Macina E-MTB Macina Team

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance:

Our tours include Personal Accidents and Liability Insurance only while riding. Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on their trip, but these things can and do happen.  We strongly recommend that you take out a policy for your travel which covers delayed baggage, medical repatriation and other areas.

We recommend WorldNomads, whose policies are specially designed for bike holidays. You can arrange your insurance cover directly with them.

Please note: Our mountain bike tour is a "living thing", being influenced by multiple factors such as weather conditions, group riding abilities and trail damage, to name a few. Your local guides are experts in guiding mountain bikers  and will be continually assessing these factors making tweaks to the itinerary where necessary to ensure that every member of the group has the best experience possible.


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