Peneda-Gerês National Park is a well-kept natural jewel located northwest of Portugal about an hour a half from Porto sharing a border with Spain.
When I arrived in Porto from Sao Miguel sharing with the locals how beautiful the Azores island was, they’d tell me to visit Peneda-Gerês National Park. The locals would rave about the natural beauty of Mother Nature and how it’s a fantastic place for nature and outdoor enthusiast. What makes it even extra special it is home to numerous granite remote villages are kept in its form.
Naturally, I was determined to check this national treasure out. Since the park covers an area of approximately 80,000 hectares and
As I prefer to have the peace of mind of having someone who knows where they are going in the mountains, I opted for the latter. The last thing I want to do is to get lost in the wilderness. And chose to book an adventure tour with Oporto Adventures.
*It is possible to rent a car and go on your own but
The day exploring the park with Oporto Adventures begins at 8:30 am in a 4x4 Land Rover equipped with plenty of bottles of water available to hydrate you throughout the day.
- Bring a swimsuit to swim in waterfalls and lagoons or wear it underneath your hiking clothes;
- Bring a plastic bag for your wet suit;
- Bring flipflops;
- Bring sunscreen;
- Bring sunglasses;
- Wear good sneaker or hiking boots;
- Dress in active wear and layers (if you are exploring Gerês in the Fall and Spring when weather is more unpredictable);
Our first stop was a visit to Fafião Village. This is a self- sustainable 200 years-old village and here we learned about the life and customs of the village. Large stones and granite slabs are used to build houses, traps to hunt wolves (Fojo do Lobo de Fafião) in the past and granaries used for food storage.
Alongside mother nature, it’s also not unusual to come across a variety of wild and farm animals roaming around freely inside the park. We came across the Cachena cow and a wild horse. I’ve never seen a cattle with such majestic long horns.
You will also hike and get to chase waterfalls. The one we hiked to was Tahiti waterfalls and you can go for a dip in the pristine water. From time to time if you are lucky, you ‘ll catch a rainbow as you the sunlight catches the waterfall.
Along our hikes, we were introduced to some wild medronhos. This was a fruit that was a cross between a strawberry and raspberry and tastes like sweet strawberry short cake. The Portuguese are known to make a brandy liquor and jams out of it.
Lunch was included where we got to taste traditional Portuguese food in the region that offered a great panoramic view.
Then it was another hike in Mata de Albergaria through Geira Romana. This was an ancient Roman road built by the Roman empire. Back in the day it connected two important Roman cities – Braga (now in Portugal) and Astorga (Spain) and was pinnacle to the growth and maintenance of the empire.
The path and the paving slabs and boulders were filled with moss and lichen and gave it a magical Chronicles of Narnia feel to it. Truly colossal and monumental walking path that ended with a view of the Vilarinho das Furnas lake.
Next time, I would like to head further north and visit the natural hot springs on the Gerês side and Lobios Caldaria thermal spa in Spain. And if I am feeling daring, I may try canyoning in Gerês.