Walking in Peneda-Gerês National Park


We crossed the border in to Portugal just over two weeks ago and in that time visited Porto and NOS Alive music festival in Lisbon. It feels like we’ve been here so much longer! Here’s what we did on our first day in Portugal…

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The drive over the border from Spain to Portugal was amazing in itself. The scenery was dramatic and we were full of excitement to get to our next destination.

Immediately after crossing the border we parked up in Peneda-Gerês National Park. We planned to walk up to one of the summits and maybe go for a swim on the way back. We made our way to the start of the public footpath and saw crowds of people sunbathing and swimming around a waterfall in Rio Homem, it’s clearly a big tourist destination. The water is deep blue and crystal clear, so enticing on a hot day in Portugal but we were determined to reach the top first!

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We continued past the sunbathers further up the footpath and found that no one else had made it past the waterfall that day. We didn’t see anyone else for the entire walk which at first made us a bit weary about whether it was permissible to walk up there, but the path was well defined if not extremely rocky so we went for it.

We followed the river right to the end, ascending the entire way. The steady uphill was a bit relentless and the rocks under your feet are big and loose making walking quite tough but the scenery was incredible and we really enjoyed how the landscape was constantly changing as you climbed higher and deeper in to the hills.

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After a long climb we made it to the peak where to our surprise we were met by a herd of horned cows residing in a ghost town of ruined buildings – possibly once miners dwellings. It felt very much like the area belonged to them and you couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated by their huge horns.

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The ruins looked so interesting and we were so close to the top that we had to continue and make our way passed them. As we did the bull appeared and let out a strange high pitched, almost human like, call that made the whole place suddenly feel eery.

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Still, we carried on, ignoring the bull and as we approached the brow of the hill it all quickly became worth it as we were met with an amazing panorama.

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We timed our walk to finish just before dusk – around 10pm, it felt so strange to still be enjoying a long walk in the light and warm so late. By the time we got back to the waterfall at the bottom everyone had left which would have made it the perfect time for us to go for a swim but we were so tired and hungry we had to call it a day. There’s always next time though!


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