São Lourenço do Barrocal launches a new three-night experience celebrating Alentejo’s rich nature and wildlife

Set in Portugal’s wild Alentejo, home to ancient holm oaks, olive groves, vineyards and soaring birdlife, this spring farmstead hotel, winery and spa São Lourenço do Barrocal will launch a new three-night ‘Wild at Heart’ experience to celebrate the wonders of the rich nature and wildlife that call this unspoilt corner of the world home.

The experience will begin with a discovery of flora and fauna as you are guided by local biologist Nuno Guégués on a 7km ethnobotanical hike. Raised in the Alentejo, Nuno’s wealth of knowledge offers an insight into some of the estates’ most curious medicinal and edible plants, from the pink butterfly orchid to the laudanum flower, teaching their traditional uses and ancestral connections. Once the ground has been covered, Nuno will turn to the sky. With 20 years’ experience in ornithology, he will lead a three-hour birdwatching session through the estate, the surrounding ‘montado’ landscape and the great Alqueva lake. With 75 species of birds that call Barrocal home or migrate through the estate as the seasons change, you can enjoy the quiet tranquility as you spot cranes flying high, the brightly-coloured goldfinch and hoopoes wearing their distinctive “crown”.

As night falls, make the most of the estate’s prime position in the Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve with a private stargazing session led by a local astronomer as constellations sparkle above. On average, the region receives 286 clear nights per year, offering endless opportunities to observe celestial bodies and identify the planets in the company of herbal teas from the garden and cosy blankets.

Day two begins with a sunrise awakening as you join resident beekeeper José Rogel for a sweet journey through the honey cycle, paying homage to Barrocal’s roots in beekeeping, an activity that has been a part of Barrocal since its foundation in 1820. This experience emphasises the importance of bee protection and their instrinsic role in global food production, and on a smaller scale, within Barrocal’s own micro ecosystem, helping to push the estate further towards its long-term goal of becoming self-sustaining, and promoting the region’s biodiversity while doing so. You will suit up to get a closer look at the hives, observing how bees communicate through dance as they work together to produce a healthy honey harvest. Subject to the season, you will have a unique insight into the traditional honey extraction method followed by a tasting of the golden nectar; a new zero-km product that joins the line-up of first-class wines, organic olive oil, fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits, cereals and cattle that are produced onsite.

Come afternoon, local florist Catarina Cunha from nearby Reguengos de Monsaraz, will guide you through a floristry workshop. Foraging for bountiful botanicals, from aromatic rosemary to seasonal blooms of the almond tree, foliage will be transformed into showstopping flower arrangements as you learn about the region’s flower traditions and the culture behind its rich natural landscape.