This a tour for adventurous hikers and wildlife lovers, following trails that cut through roaring waterfalls, green oak woods, moorlands carpeted with wild flowers, challenging rocky paths, and cooling natural pools.
Created in 1971 to preserve the region’s natural wonders, its traditional local practices and lifestyles, Peneda-Gerês is Portugal’s only National Park. An enticing blend of wilderness and civilisation, the park has a dramatic and jaw dropping topography. The terrain is rocky, rugged and mountainous, the biodiversity is incredible, joining endemic species such as the wild pony (garranos), roe deer’s (emblazoned on the park’s logo) and the endangered Iberian wolf.
The region has a rich historical and cultural heritage with megalithic and Roman traces (castles, bridges, mills, dams, ovens, etc.). Small ancient churches and other religious structures dot the landscape. In the Peneda Valley, one of our walks descends alongside the River Peneda to an iconic pilgrimage centre with a remarkable sanctuary and grand staircase.
You’ll find clusters of quaint granaries built of granite which are still used by local farmers to store corn. These miniature stone houses are elevated and topped with a cross to bless the crops and keep the devil and plagues away.
Traditional tiny mountain villages, which remained unchanged for centuries, are also built with granite, blending seamlessly with the majestic rugged grey mountains of Peneda-Gerês Natural Park, rising from the greenest landscapes. The Gerês lily, a blue-violet flower endemic to the park, sprinkles the landscape in the spring, offering a natural spectacle.
Here, time seems to have stood still, but the mountains are very much alive. The local inhabitants still live off the land, the cereal crops, and the breeding of the splendid long-horned cattle (you’ll find them wandering freely through the streets). The harmonious co-existence of man and nature is the key to the park’s charm.
Mountain food is unpretentious, substantial, and delicious. Pair it with a glass (or a bowl, traditional in this region!) of vinho verde, a lightly-sparkling wine after a day exploring, and you have it all!
Day 1 – Arrival in Porto
Transfer by road from Porto to Castro Laboreiro. Aprox. 2h.
Day 2 – Castro Laboreiro
Castro Laboreiro’s Castle
A short walk to the remains of the castle above the village of Castro Laboreiro. The castle dates back to the founding of Portugal and is accessed by a circular route from the village. An ideal morning walk before a stop in the village cafés.
Distance: 2.5km / Ascent/Descent: 100m/100m
Castro Laboreiro’s Penedos
A walk into and amongst the dramatic rock outcrops to the west of the village of Castro Laboreiro. Initially following narrow mountain trails up into the hills, the return is on easier paths and tracks.
Distance: 10km / Ascent/Descent: 250m/250m
Day 3 – Trilho Castrejo
Based partly on a local waymarked route this walk explores the valley below Castro Laboreiro and visits many of the tiny villages in the area allowing you to observe some traditional farming and the way of life of the area.
Distance: 15km / Ascent/Descent: 400m /400m
Day 4 – Alto de Gontim
A contrast with other walks in the area, this walk along pleasant easy tracks and through villages also explores the moorland area to the east of Castro Laboreiro. As the walk climbs to the border with Spain it gives extensive views over the whole region.
Distance: 14km / Ascent/Descent: 300m/300m
Day 5 – Castro Laboreiro to Peneda
The second centre for this week is Peneda. The walk links the two centres, eastwards on an ancient trail over the mountains & descends to the area of Lamas do Mouro where you can visit one of the main information centres for the National Park.
As you walk up to the head of the Peneda Valley the walk descends alongside the River Peneda to the hotel at one of Portugal´s iconic pilgrimage centres with its remarkable sanctuary and grand staircase.
Distance: 12km / Ascent/Descent: 500m/500m
Day 6 – Meadinha and Bouça dos Homens
This walk passes through some of the most dramatic granite scenery in these mountains.
En route, the walk passes by Bouça dos Homens, a small and isolated village surrounded by five mountainous peaks at an altitude of 1070m.
Distance: 12km / Ascent/Descent: 500m/500m
Day 7 – Valley of Rio da Peneda
A walk descending the valley below Peneda starting on the dramatic staircase and then continuing on the ancient trail that leads down the valley.
As the descent progresses into the lower, warmer valley, lusher vegetation & fascinating villages emerge where the milder climate enables a more varied agriculture.
Much of the walk accompanies the local rivers as they cascade down the valley and it is possible to observe the confluence of the rivers Peneda & Pomba.
Distance: 16.8km / Ascent/Descent: : 350m/350m
Day 8 – Individual departure or extra days
At convenient time, departure to Porto Airport
Hotel Castrum Villae
Hotel Castrum Villae (3***) or similiar
The privileged location of the Hotel Castrum Villae*** offers its clients unique views and an exquisite garden. The modern and simple but traditionally decorated rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi service.
Peneda Hotel (3***) or similar
Located in the extraordinary Peneda-Gerês National Park, in the heart of the Peneda village, this cosy hotel provides its clients exquisite service. Surrounded by stunning nature views, the rooms are simply decorated equipped with cable TV, private bathroom and free Wi-Fi.
You must be adequately insured to join our Guided and Self-Guided holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday.
BeCool Travel has partnered with WorldNomads.com to keep you travelling safely. WorldNomads.com Travel Insurance is designed for independent and adventurous travellers, with coverage for overseas medical expenses, cancellation, baggage, and other expenses.
Please consult our Travel Insurance page, where you’ll be able to get more detailed info about insurance requirements and an immediate quote for your trip.