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Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 3/4) – Portugal

Portinho-da-Arrabida-001---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 3/4) – Portugal

Facing Lisbon from the hilltop.​

North/West Quadrant

In this quadrant, you can see Lisbon and from the city, I can only distinguish little more than a jungle of houses that seem to be glued to the Sintra Hills, is the effect of a view from a far distance because, in reality, Sintra is a 30 minutes drive from Lisbon.

In this direction I can see many vineyards and, although I have difficulty to distinguish them, I know that two wine producers that are considered to be in the gallery of the best wine producers in Portugal: Quinta da Bacalhôa and José Maria da Fonseca.

Somewhere there you can find Moscatel grapes used for the production of the famous wine “Moscatel de Setúbal”. The “Moscatel de Setúbal” wine is considered the best in Moscatel in the world. “Moscatel de Setúbal” wine is a fortified wine of amber color, which I love.

Watch this 2 minutes and 30 seconds funny and interesting video that pretty much explains the “Moscatel de Setúbal”.

In the small village of Azeitão one can also find two other extraordinary products: Azeitão cheese and pies of Azeitão (Tortas de Azeitão).

The cheese of Azeitão is a small cheese made with sheep’s milk, yellow-colored and very soft, buttery, excellent for spreading on toast.

Tortas de Azeitão is a small cake rolled up, made from flour and eggs, and is delicious.

to be continued …

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Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 2/4) – Portugal

Serra-da-Arrábida-003---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 2/4) – Portugal

At the Formosinho hilltop.​

North/East Quadrant

When I turn on eastbound I’m in the direction of Setúbal, despite not being able to see the city I can see the end of its industrial belt which creates me mixed feelings. In my mind is contradictory the need for development with the awareness of a natural environment conservation of a diversified place as the river Sado estuary.

Looking in the direction of Alcochete, almost facing the north side, I try to see the Ribatejo plain areas but I can’t any longer distinguish the settlements.

Setúbal, where our famous 18th and 19th-century writer Bocage was born and to whom is attributed a lot of anecdotes and naughty sayings.

to be continued …

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Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 1/4) – Portugal

Serra-da-Arrábida-001---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 1/4) – Portugal

I’m at the top of the Arrábida Hills. Around me a breathtaking view makes me wonder why don’t I come here more often … I love this spot.

The look on my teammates faces is tells me they can’t find words to express themselves. They are expressing fragmented and disconnected ideas, is amazing.

We are at the summit of the Arrábida Hills. Is called Formosinho, has 501 m high and is the highest point of the Setúbal’s District.

For many mountaineers reaching the mountains’s summits is an end in itself. I do not feel that call.

For me reaching the summit is interesting, sure is, but I tend to value more the all journey, the going up and the returning from as a all.

This is not a difficult summit to climb neither represents a true challenge in any way. So, what on Earth make’s it so interesting?

The type of view we can have from here is so diverse and so full of details that there are not many summits like this, is one of a kind.

From here we see the sea, the mountains, other small ridges, the cropland with vineyards, the fruit tree fields, the urban sites … is so diverse that for each side we turn we have a unique setting. 

The vision of the sea is the one that attracts me the most, there seems to be an endless beach. I fell in love by this 360-degree vision. 

For ease of explanation, in the map I marked the Formosinho summit with a red dot and I divided the post in the 4 quadrants of a compass. In counterclockwise I will write about each quadrant at a time.

South/East Quadrant

The Tróia peninsula dominates the landscape, a long tongue of sand headed by some buildings I know to be with summer apartments. More into the ocean, in front of the “head” of this peninsula, there is a large sand outer ring that during the low tide it turns to an immense beach.

On the river Sado side, I imagine the dolphins I can see when I’m there. I know their names, which gives me a pleasant sensation of familiarity.

Tróia has a quite interesting Roman heritage I will explore in a dedicated post.

From Setúbal to Tróia there’s a ferry that crosses the river. I always liked this crossing, is an excellent boat trip.

From the top I can see some green dots moving on the river, are the new ferries crossing the river.

Here I cannot see all of the river Sado estuary but to by seeing this river mouth I remember some hidden places in the estuary which are authentic treasures, such as the archaeological station of Abul with its Phoenician heritage.

In this quadrant by the sea is where you will find the most impressive beach area of the surroundings. Portinho da Arrábida, Figueirinha and Galapos are really the best beaches around … crystal clear waters, fabulous.

to be continued …

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Walking on the Lousã’s aqueduct – Portugal

Levada-Lousa-001---Portugal

A hidden aqueduct in the well preserved valley is a jewel and you can find that quite close to Lousã.

Wild horses in Portugal at Gerês National Park.

Water was always one of the most precious resources in the world and around here that not different.

In this case water’s value shows itself by the power it has to produce electricity with its weight when falling from a certain height … simple. But, to have that in this narrow steep valley, a small aqueduct was built to conduct the water along the valley keeping the altitude as much as possible until the right place.

The result was a beautiful two miles aqueduct in the middle of the valley where one can walk.

How to access to the aqueduct? It’s not too easy but I can think about to nice ways to do it:

  1. Starting from Senhora da Piedade (Lousã) it’s possible to find a single trail that will take us to a small village called Talasnal. At this village we can taste a small cake called Talasnico e find the trail down to the aqueduct walking towards down the valley. The trail will last for (+/-) 150m and after that it will be walking across the bushes. Always walking down you can not miss the aqueduct and after finding it is to follow it until the trail that will take us back to the starting point.
  2. There is an entrance to the aqueduct from the EN236 road at N40° 05.470′ W8° 12.814′. From Lousã you can take a cab until the spot, find the aqueduct and walk back.

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Lousã, Portugal

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A hiking adventure at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

At 110 Km Norwest from Madrid you will find the landscape of the book “For whom the bell tolls” from Ernest Hemingway and a perfect location for a hiking adventure.

If I remember well, I read the book “For whom the bell tolls” when I was 18 years old or something like that. At that age I was far from imagining that one day I was going to lead tours there or even to climb to its summit, the Almanzor.

When I read the book I was fascinated by the description of how the earth shacked when we made love with Maria, I admired the strength of Pilar and I could only imagine the mountains landscape in my dreams. One have to realize that back then there was no internet where I could go browse about Gredos, the closest thing I had was the local public library and there was not many books about such a place.

Anyway, this mountain range is like a mini Alpes, it really looks like it but in a much smaller scale. With its snowed granitic needles and its “U” valley one have the sensation of being in much higher mountain.

The highest summit is the Almanzor with 2,592 m (8,504 ft). If you want to know more about the origin of the name Almanzor, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almanzor

Sierra de Gredos is a lovely place to go for a walk, both during the winter or summer time.

Although during the winter is usually completely covered with snow, the walk from the parking area called Plataforma until the mountain hut Elola is well marked and there is always quite a lot of people doing it, especially during weekends.

But if you want to climb to the Almanzor summit or similar, you better know what your doing or hire a mountain guide. I can’t remember how many time I climbed this summit with clients and quite often we find people in trouble during the way up without proper guidance … please don’t do that.

Just the walk until the mountain hut is already a wonderful memory and in the mountain hut you will find something very important: beer 🙂

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Hoyos del Espino, Spain

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Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do

Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do.

I’m a little nervous about writing this post. “Serra da Freita” (Freita’s hills) is one of the places that inspired me to start this long walk to become a professional on Active Tourism and I do not know if I will have enough talent in the art of writing in order to fairly reward this site.

However, I feel that this blog will never be complete if it does not have some something written about Serra da Freita.

I’ve done a lot of hiking in the hills area, repeating the same and doing many others that I never had the opportunity to repeat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Serra da Freita” is also an area where I did many other activities besides walking such as climbed, canyoning, hydrospeed and rafting not far from 

here. However, this being a blog of walking, I will confine myself to this theme.

The translation of “Serra” is hills or small mountains and we often use the word “Serra” for the name of a short mountain area. Here I will be writing about Serra da Freita as well as about Serra da Arada.

Frecha da Mizarela

201208Freita (76)This waterfall, with more than 70 m high, is the business card of Serra da Freita.

Is part of a system of cascades that as a whole exceeds 90m high. This beautiful waterfall landscape and the vision of many other smaller waterfalls is what we can expect when we walk in this area.

Ribeira is a small village that lies at the foot of this system of cascades and the trail that goes along this watercourse could not be more spectacular. Here you will find many small ponds where 

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DSCN1717When we walk from Ribeira to Mizarela we can choose between walking along the watercourse as I mentioned or, from a certain point, choose a little “detour” and climb (very easy climbing) some rocks on the right side of the waterfall Frecha da Mizarela. Is a low-difficulty climbing but that of course always requires some care.you can bathe in the crystal-clear waters or simply enjoy showering at the waterfalls.

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All the people who made this trail with me felled in love for place, is without doubt a fabulous  hike.

This trail requires us to cross a small pond so we better have our swimming gear with us and a nice pair of rubber sandals.

It’s so fun to walk this trail that nobody forgets it.

A rock giving birth to another rock

Talking about a rock giving birth to another rock looks like we are talking about the “Lord of The Rings” saga but this time it’s really true.

There is a rare geological phenomenon which results in the granite rock releasing some crystals that will form new chunks of rock. Apparently, this phenomenon can only be seen in two places in the world, near Castanheira, a village in Serra da Freita and somewhere in Russia. I do not know if whether there will be other places but as much I investigated there is only these two places.

It is very interesting to see the new stones because they look like flattened black eggs and on the mother rock you will find kind of a nest where the “baby” rocks was formed.

See the translated version of Wikipedia at: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedra_parideira

Tungsten mine – Rio de Frades – Cabreiros – Tabelião

DSCF2925Rio de Frades (River of Friars) is a small village deeply marked by what used to be a tungsten mine.

The tungsten mine’s, today in ruins, began in 1914. This metal hardens the ammunition and makes them more resistant.

These mines belonged to a German company named “Mining Company of North of Portugal”, drilled more than 6 km of holes along the river from where they extracted this rare metal to be sold during the first and second world wars.

Nowadays you will only find its ruins and a small highly stratified village, as it was the standard way of living in those contexts of mining communities.

The river with the same name as this village, has fabulous landscapes hidden in its valley. Small turquoise lakes and astonishing cascades are only accessible using the techniques and knowledge to do so.

Walking along the trail from Rio de Frades we will arrive to Cabreiros a charming village with lovely stone houses, a typically village. From here we can go until Tebilhão on bucolic trail, flanked by granite stone walls.

From Póvoa das Leiras to Covêlo de Paivô

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After the stone houses of the village (Póvoa das Leiras) there is a trail that leads us to a stone platform path that goes almost until Covêlo de Paivô, downhill always at half-slope.

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After this long walk we will arrive to Covêlo of Paivô, but not before crossing a large natural pool … a bath is “compulsory”. The crystal clear water with small fishes makes us feel like it should be in paradise.Despite not having any proof, this route appears to have been a work of

Romans, is one of those trails that one must put on the list of must-sees.

Arouquesa beef and goats from the hills

IM000090.JPGThe sighting of grazing cattle when we walk is always an interesting moment and here these moments happen often because breeding is a strong source of income to the locals.

Around here we can find mainly cows and goats.

The arouquesa cow breed is highly appreciated and its meat reaches high values on the market is.

Arouquesa cows are docile animals with a candid look and with an impressive pair of horns that easily awakens your deepest sense of respect.

Goats are also very numerous and abundant are also the products t

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hat this animal provides us such as the milk to do goat cheese … nhummy 🙂

Covas do Monte is another small village with an interesting particularity: is has about 75 inhabitants and we can find here more than 2000 goats coming out every day in the morning to go graze on the hills, a spectacle worthy of seen and living as a shepherd for one day.

Gastronomy

IM000213.JPGThere is no place in Portugal about which there is not a lot to talk about gastronomy and this area is no different.

I would like to point out two typical dishes: Serra da Arada lamb baked in wood-burning oven and the roasted aroquesa veal.

They are both, of course, dishes based on products of the mountains such as the veal aroquesa, the lamb, vegetables and other products, both worked with the traditional techniques and equipment as the wood-burning oven, trays and platters of clay and slowly baking the meat to be tender and without losing their juices and flavors.

Of course the wine we drink around here is the Dão doc but on this spectacular wine I’ll write a post one day.

Are you willing to meet the Serra da Freita and Serra da Arada? I hope so:) Here I am to go walking with you in the Serra da Freita and share these wonders.

David Monteiro

Location: Arouca, Portugal

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Climbing “via ferrata” a wonderful adventure

A via ferrata (iron way) is a climbing route where you will find metallic structures installed on the rock walls.

According to some sources, this kind of climbing routes had their origin in Italy, where the alpine guides of Madonna di Campiglios (Dolomites) started to place some support metallic structures to facilitated their tours with customers.

This idea was than very well received by the Italian army that came to develop the concept between 1915 and 1918 allowing their soldiers to progress on apparently inaccessible mountain terrain and getting some advantage towards the enemy that couldn’t imagine such structures.

After the world wars, from a military use the “via ferratas” started to have only a touristic use and to be spread out to other countries.

More recently there was a great effort by the Spanish authorities in the direction of installing many “via ferratas” of excellent quality that allow an excellent sensation of adventure tothose that are more experienced climbers as well to those that are not so experienced.

In the area of the Spanish Pyrenees there are has a dispersed set of excellent examples of “via ferratas” and that gives the possibility of fantastic vacations.

Although the “via ferratas” allow an easier progression than climbing on the plain rock, the use of these structures respect a set of security rules that, in case you are not familiarized such techniques is preferable to use the services of a guide.

The via ferratas are graded in many ways. There are some difficulty level grading that can go from an easy level of 1, also referred as A, or an extremely difficult level or 5, also referred as E. You can find other kinds of grading that involve other criterias suchs as a psychological factor of the “via ferrata”.

During the tours I promote to climb via ferratas, concerning the lodging terms I opt to present possibilities of reasonable economic lodging but with the basic comforts as privative bath. However, is always possible to find lodgings in accordance with one needs and pocket..

A memorable adventure.

David Monteiro

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Trekking Tours – what are

trekking04Trekking tours are tours where the participants will walk several days autonomously in mountain environment. By autonomously I mean having in one’s backpack all that will be needed for the tours days.

Well, in my trekking tours I usually use mountain huts to spend the night and is also where we can have our meals. I do not usually camp unless when the guests expressively ask for that.trekking05

The mountain huts are constructions, houses type, that can be found n isolated places in mountains as it is the case of the photo that if it sees here to the side.

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In these huts you can sleep in huge rooms that can hold 20, 30, or more persons, depending of the capacity of each hut. In some huts you will find bunks and in others you will find wooden decks with mattresses and blankets where you and sleep.

In each tour day you will have a certain trail to accomplish, usually until the next hut.

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The use of huts will prevent you from carrying all the gear and all the food, allowing you to enjoy more the landscape and the trail itself. In these huts you also have the possibility to meet other people that come from other countries and these sort of moments are something that always makes part of the stories we will tell later.

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The trails we will accomplish are adjusted to the difficulty level announced in the tours brochures.

Only for being a mountain trekking tour does not mean that will be d
emanding. If in the brochure is referred to be an easy level tour so it will be easy (for a common person) however if the tour is classified as strenuous so you can also count on that as well.

I will be waiting for you.Are you ready to join me for a trekking adventure?

David Monteiro