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Portugal's Hidden Wilderness (11300G)

Guided Tour Portugal's Hidden Wilderness (11300G) - Nossa Senhora da Peneda
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One Week Program in the Peneda National Park

A showcase of great landscapes, the Peneda-Gerês National Park is an exquisite environment of outstanding beauty.

In this high country the air is crystalline and the waters pure.

This national park contains some of the most beautiful and varied scenery found in the whole of the country and here you’ll find an abundance of rare wildflowers, birds of prey, herds of wild horses and other wildlife.

Our two-centre holiday in the northwest of the Park is centred in the Serra da Peneda. It is designed so that you visit the most spectacular and interesting parts of these mountains.

Our remarkably varied walks will circle the dramatic crags and granite landscape of Meadinha and follow ancient trails down the lush valley of the river Peneda.

The somewhat remote location has protected the park. You will not only enjoy the beauty of the region, from dramatic rolling moorland to towering granite crags but also visit many of the ancient hamlets dotted about the countryside and enjoy the legendary hospitality of the mountain people.

Our first centre is in the mountain village of Castro Laboreiro overlooked by its ancient castle.

Isolated traditional villages with high mountain meadows and rolling moorland stretch to the frontier with Spain to the east. Yet, walk out of the hotel to the west and we are amongst towering granite crags and hidden wooded valleys.

The village with its cafés and a remarkably comfortable and well-appointed hotel gives us the ideal place from which to explore and then to relax at the end of our day.

We are able to walk across the mountains to our second location in the beautiful, remote, yet famous, sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Peneda.

Our hotel in Peneda, once the pilgrims’ hostel, has been imaginatively converted into a high-quality hotel. It is set to one side of the sanctuary with a backdrop of trees, crags and waterfalls with the grand stairway of the Sanctuary descending into the valley below.
Each day breakfast will be taken in the Hotel before leaving for the day’s program.
We will usually leave the Hotel between 9.00 am and 9.30am.
On our return to the Hotel each day we will have time to relax and change before dinner which is usually taken at 7.30pm.
Each evening the guide will give a preview of the next day’s program. 
Day’s program is subject to alteration due to weather and local conditions.

The terrain is hilly and often rough underfoot, with steep sections on many paths. Some days will be energetic, others more relaxing, as we ramble through unspoilt scenery and quiet villages.
On most days we will cover a distance of around 7-9 miles on foot, ascents will vary between 300 to 500m. Descents will vary from 100m to 500m.
Below is a probable itinerary for the week dependant on local conditions, weather etc.

Arrival to Porto
Fly into Porto & transfer by road to Castro Laboreiro (approximately two hours from Porto Airport).
If time allows we suggest a familiarisation walk around the village.

Castro Laboreiro Castle and Penedos de Castro Laboreiro
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 an elevenses stop in the village cafés.
After that, we’ll take 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, then returning on easier paths and tracks.

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 letting us see some traditional farming and the way of life of the area.

Alto de Gontim
A contrast to our other walks in the area, this walk goes along pleasant easy tracks and through villages and 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.

Castro Laboreiro to Peneda
This walk links our two centres.
We head east on an ancient trail over the mountains and descend to the area of Lamas do Mouro where we have a mid-morning break and visit one of the main information centres for the National Park.
After walking up to the head of the Peneda Valley we then follow the old route as it descends alongside the River Peneda to our next hotel at one of Portugal´s iconic pilgrimage centres with its remarkable sanctuary and grand staircase.

Meadinha and Bouça dos Homens
This walk passes through some of the most dramatic granite scenery in these mountains and visits the isolated village of Bouça dos Homens where the local populations still spend their summer months before retreating to the valleys in the winter along with their animals.

Valley of Rio da Peneda
A walk descending the valley below Peneda. We begin by going down the dramatic staircase of the Sanctuary and then continue on the ancient trail that leads down the valley.
As we descend into the lower, warmer, valley we see lush vegetation and fascinating villages where the milder climate enables a more varied agriculture.
Much of our walk again accompanies the local rivers as they cascade down the valley and we visit the confluence of the rivers Peneda and Pomba.

Transport by road to Porto airport
The Hotels
  • Hotel Castrum Villae*** (or similar)
Located in Peneda Gerês National Park, the hotel Castrum Villae is located right in the centre of Castro Laboreiro village.

It offers modern rooms with free Wi-Fi and scenic nature views. All rooms are comfortably furnished and each one has views, a well-stocked minibar, a work desk and an en-suite bathroom.
  • Hotel Peneda*** (or similar)
Our final three nights will be spent in the beautiful Peneda Hotel, situated next to the Sanctuary, in a calm and tranquil setting. The hotel has been imaginatively transformed from the original pilgrim’s hostel.

The property enjoys an impressive and secluded location from which to enjoy beautiful views over the countryside and verdant mountains. There is free Wi-Fi access available in the hotel. All rooms are en suite. Hairdryers are available from reception. There are no safety deposit boxes in the rooms (valuables can be securely stored in reception).
What's Included
  • 8 nights in a twin room (three stars hotels)
  • Single supplement applied in single rooms
  • All guided tours
  • 7 Dinners taken in local restaurants with drinks included. We are always able to cater for vegetarian or other special diets (Lunches can be bought from local shops)
  • 7 buffet breakfasts at the Hotel.
  • Transfers from Porto airport at 12 a.m on the first day
  • Transfers from the Hotel to Porto airport at 12 a.m on last day
  • All land travel (as outlined)
  • Dedicated driver and guide
Not Included
  • Any services not listed as included
  • Flights to and from Portugal 
  • Meals, tips/gratuities, baggage or personal insurance (except as outlined)
  • Admission fees to castles & attractions or events (except as outlined)
  • Personal expenses
  • Supplements
  • Guide services inside monuments
More Info
The land only option allows you to book your own transport to and from the holiday. You will normally meet the group at the arrival airport at 12 a.m as long as you arrive there no later than the group. Similarly, on the way home, you can return to the airport with the group as long as your departure time is no earlier than that of the group.

This guided tour already includes a transfer departing from Porto airport at 12 a.m on arrival and returning to Porto airport at 12 a.m on the last day.

If none of this option suits you, please add to your booking a transfer that does. You can also rent a car.

To this tour, we only accept transfers departing from Porto Airport or Porto.

Departure dates: