The town of Monchique (458m.) is located in a pass between the two peaks of Foia (902m.) and Picota (774m.). The two massifs are of volcanic origin (hence the thermal waters in Caldas emerging at 32ºC.), and are made of a rare type of Syenite (a type of granite). Schists predominate in the lower parts.
The soil is generally acid in Monchique, and the original vegetation consists of Ulex Minor, Arenaria Montana, Ilex Aquifolium, Arbutus and all sorts of Rhododendrons and heather. A great part of the Chestnut trees and Cork trees which were native to this mountain have unfortunately been replaced in the last decades by extensive plantations of Eucalyptus and Pine trees for quick profit. This short sighted approach is now being slowly reversed.
The Monchique hills are host to several interesting and rare species, which led to the classification of this area as a protected zone under the 'Corine Biotope scheme': For the specialist, here is a list of rare indigenous fauna.
AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES: