We were so excited when we found out about Oporto Adventure Tours, a new company which offers tours from Porto and Braga to Peneda Geres, the incredible national park. The company has made one of the best parts of Portugal accessible for tourists to visit in just a day – making it a must-do for anyone visiting Porto. Together with Carla, our guide, and 3 Portuguese couples, we jumped in the Jeep and started our adventure along the narrow winding roads to the park.
Horse Riding Through a Village
After driving further and deeper into the park, and stopping by to swim in a crystal clear lagoon, we arrived in a small rural village.
The tiny village has only 100 residents, and being so far from civilization they don’t use money – instead, they trade services with each other.
The car stopped by a horse stable, where a little boy greeted us with a big smile – we were all supposed to jump on a horse and ride through the village. My legs were shaking already before I climbed on the horse, and for some stupid reason I chose the biggest one because I made up in my head that it was older and wiser. This turned out to be completely wrong, since me and my horse didn’t get along at all..!
As soon as we set off, my horse went straight for the bushes on the road side and branches above his head – all he wanted to do was eat, eat and eat, and he was getting increasingly frustrated by my nervous commands.
It didn’t matter what I did, because my horse had a will of his own; he stopped to drink when he wanted and ate when he wanted, and while Nathan was enjoying the incredible views and atmosphere, all I could focus on was my horse. While I was blaming everything on the horse, I knew that it was probably just me again. I guess I should have learned my lesson from last time in New Zealand when a horse kicked me so hard I flew several meters in the air – at least this time I didn’t fall off, so maybe I’m getting better?
Waterfalls and Secret Lagoons
The Portuguese couples we traveled with had been to the park many times before, but the reason they went with Carla on the tour was because they wanted to explore parts of the park that they didn’t know about. Carla took us to places that are not only unknown to foreigners, but to many of the locals.
After an exhausting walk through some of the park’s most rugged areas, soaked in sweat, we finally arrived at one of the most beautiful lagoons I have ever seen.
The water was turquoise and absolutely crystal clear, surrounded by smooth cliffs and a pouring waterfall in the corner. Although we had already taken a swim in another lagoon (that one with green clear water) we were so warm and sweaty we couldn’t wait to jump in. We spent a long time cooling off in the pure ice cold water, jumping from the cliffs and sunbathing on the rocks – it was freezing, but your body gets numb after a while so it’s fine 😉
Views and Wildlife
The nature in Peneda Geres is incredibly varied, from lush forests, cascades and massive waterfalls, to rugged rocky hills. There is a lot of wildlife in the park, from wolves to wild horses and the Cachena Cattle, which are typical for the area, and which were everywhere on the road side as we drove back home. Carla had really given us a unique experience and showed us places we would never have been able to find on our own, and we would definitely recommend that you check out their tours when you visit Porto.
Oporto Adventure Tours Overview
Many thanks to Oporto Adventure Tours for hosting us on this adventurous day in Peneda Geres National Park – all opinions are, as always, our own.