Why is Gerês National Park our favourite museum nearby Porto?
"what the hell am I thinking?"
"Nature is born to be discovered"
When I walk into the nature I have the same posture as when you go to a museum: I want to know a plant history, why those trees are there and the importance of each individual animal. To me, nature is the most beautiful kind of museums.
To think you won’t learn anything in a hike or other outdoor activities is totally wrong!
Nature is always giving us extraordinary lessons, logic stories, resistance and resilience, love. In each country, each national park has its own story, and you will never see the same scene twice.
"Resistance, resilience, and love"
Museums and monuments can be copied, framed, nature cannot.
Obviously on your trip to Porto you can visit the famous Ribeira and take a photo in D. Luis bridge. You can also visit museums, exhibitions like everyone else does.
However, it will be such a pity to go home without knowing Gerês Natural Park, the only magnificent National Park of Portugal, regardless the tour hosts, just go!
The biggest advantage in choosing Oporto Adventure Tours is that we consider this our own museum, our home. With us you will not only visit a place, to see a sight but you will embrace, grow and learn.
Give nature the opportunity to surprise you!
See you soon!
Carla Couto (Founder of Oporto Adventure Tours)
Take your paddle, let me show you the world.
Let us paddle your worries away
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose”.
Oporto Adventure Tours will pick you up at your accommodation in Porto, and take you to the destinations. Paddling can be done, by choice, at Geres National park, in Douro or Cavado or many other beautiful river sites close to Porto.
We are waiting for you!
My day starts at 8 a.m. In my hand I have a little piece of paper with today travelers’ names. ‘Atlas', our 4x4 vehicle, is ready to carry on the whole world.
Oporto Adventure Tours was the first company doing a full-day tour in Gerês. With more than 500 reviews of excellence, our travelers’ expectations are high, and our guides feel that.
Today I have a family of Jews and a German couple. Hmmm, at the beginning, we only hear silence inside the car. No one talks. But suddenly, from the behind, a voice comes up asking if anyone saw the last Game of Thrones episode. The silence just broke up!
We just arrive to Gerês. It’s time to stretch our legs, to fill our breast full of fresh air and to walk.
" Hey, STOP! Do you know this is the biggest frog in Europe? If you touch it, it will swell up to become even bigger. It’s a strategy of defense against natural enemies.”
Yes, I describe the frogs with the same enthusiasm as a local guy from Porto would describe the D. Luís bridge. It was this love for the animals that led me to be a Biologist. To see the wildlife at Gerês and to be able to show it to the travelers from the four corners of the world is always a delightful experience for me.
Geres National Park Wildlife
Time to take a deep breath before dive into the frozen waters of these remarkable lagoons and waterfalls. These waters simply frozen our souls. But after coming out, this revive thrill that we feel…Oh, is just unbelievable. It’s better than a coffee on those sleepily mornings of work.
Now, the lunch time. The food fills our stomachs, but fills also our table of stories. All these dishes and how they are still doing in a traditional way, bring people together. It is incredible the complicity that our travelers grow up during the day and now we know stories from all around the world.
Herbs, warts and swallows
"The tour continues without any hurries. The idea is to feel the nature, more than seeing it."
I see a swallow flying over our heads. At the same time, an herb with its name appears at my feet: the swallowwort. The herb may be not as beautiful as some can expect to be, but the reality is that it cures! If you have a wart in your skin and you scrub the plant against it, the wart will go away in few days. It called swallowwort because the flowering begins when the swallows start arriving to Gerês, and ends up when they return to Africa in the end of the summer. It’s unbelieve how the locals know this for more than 200 years in these mountainous villages.
Without noticing it, we are already in our viewpoint of Pedra Bela. The day is ending (sadness). The view from here is breathtaking! It’s unbelieve how the Romans helped to build most of this paradise, with all of those roads and small towns that grew up to castles during the Medieval Epoch, and ended up in the villages that now we are looking at.
Pedra Bela viewpoint
Now, a swallowtail butterfly – one of the biggest in Europe! And another sign of the summer – they start flying with swallows arriving and disappear of our sight in the end of the warm season.
It’s time to go back to our lovely city – Porto. Now the silence inside the car only wins due to the fatigue. There are no more Game of Thrones conversations; however, three of us now discuss how Romans made most of the Portuguese history in the begin of the first millennia, especially here in this Park.
After arriving to Porto, the Jew family says goodbye to the German couple with a squeezed hug. They are united by the will of lasting this day inside the nature forever.
"Special things happens all the times in our tours. As a guide, I feel that every day. And travelers either."
So, how it will be your next days in Porto? The hint is there – come with us!
I wait for you in our amazing National Park. See you soon. For now…I will swim a little in an icy cool water to chill out…
Porto doesn't come up as a first destination for outdoor activity lovers, but it should.
Especially if you love canyoning as much as I do. I’ll never forget the first time I tried it… the emotion while you’re hanging on a rock clif, the wind into your face when going down a zipline, but above it all: the song of the river.
All that water flowing underneath you it’s just magical.
I could feel my mind being washed, cleared of all those useless things we’are always worrying about. Besides the adrenaline kick, was that feeling of peace and quietness that made me fell in love with canyoning. Since there I never stopped to do it.
Adrenaline is an healthy addiction to keep, even when you’re travelling.
Everytime I could try canyoning abroad I did it, but only when I was forced to stay at my own country for a long time I discovered the best spots to do it. Where? Well, I know it can be hard to believe, but I swear: near Porto you can find some of the best spots I’ve ever seen!
Not many cities around Europe can say that they have such amazing places to do outdoor activities. Luckily, Porto is one of them. It doesn't matter if it is in the Gerês National Park, or Arouca: nature is all around Porto and now you can experience it, even if you’re a rookie.
Canyoning in Porto during Autumn and Winter
There’s no such thing as too much cold. It’s always about the amount of cloth and equipment you have! In Oporto Adventure Tours we provide you: gloves, neoprene socks and suits and canyoning specific boots. Trust us, there’s no place for feeling cold in this activity.
Canyoning in Porto during Spring and Summer
We have thinner suits and a lunch with tons of fresh cold beer in the end of the canyoning. If you’re planning to come to Porto in that time of the year, please do it! The waterfalls and lagoons in the National Park are just breathtaking; and every time you jump into the water, remind yourself to open your eyes and enjoy that clear and pure view.
Transparent waters are Gerês National Park speciality.
Sometimes bad luck strikes and accidents happens. We know that it can be scary when you’re far away from home, that’s why all of our guides have the best kind of safety formation and are always updating it. Our gear is from the highest quality possible and all of our customers have an insurance that covers all the medical services needed in case of something happens.
Every detail matters and we know that! I was a traveler before becoming a guide so please, trust me when I say that you should come with us and have one of the best days in your trip to Porto!
Welcome to Porto, welcome to the city with the best canyoning spots in Europe!
Author: Rui Coelho
(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)
One of the reasons why hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park is a special experience, different from every other national parks in Europe, is that because water is a constant in practically every trails of the 70.000 hectares of our park.
The cold or hot water springs allows you to finish an hiking trail taking a relaxing bath all year!
And more: cold or hot, this water is completely natural, and its unique properties are good for your health!
Hiking in Gerês National Park in the Autumn/Winter season: hot water springs
During this season, the colours of the tree leaves, the silence of the forest, only disturbed by the sound of the water falling from the waterfalls and flowing in the rivers, the presence of wild horses like Garranos... all those things makes your hiking a special and introspective moment.
It may be also tiring, since the park has quite a big area that you explore in off-road trails on a 4x4 and because you'll have to bear some cold and maybe even rain.
Now just imagine the end of your journey having a bath in a hot spring... its a guaranteed relaxing moment before your returning to the city!
Hiking in Gerês National Park in the Spring/Summer season: cold water springs
If the hot water springs can reach the 40º Celsius, the cold water springs don't exceed the 14º Celsius. But as incredible as it seems, the relaxing effect of the natural water is the same, regardless the temperature.
You'll need to be bold to swim in the Gerês lagoons and waterfalls, but the effort is worth it!
When you leave the water, your lungs expand and your nose will detect a thousand scents from the nature! You feel your body full of energy, almost like if your brain is thanking your body the pleasure of inactivity underwater, keeping the silent sounds of water forever in your memory!
Come with us and dive into the extraordinary!
Author: Carla Couto
(Oporto Adventure Tours owner)