Gerês National Park: why part of you will stay there forever

planting trees oporto geres

 

Next Saturday, February 20th, the Oporto Adventure Tours team, in collaboration with the Fafião association and the Quercus, will plant hundreds of trees in Peneda-Gerês Park.

In each tree is a little piece of the travelers that joined us over 4 years on our adventures in Gerês.

When a traveler participates on our tours, part of the price contributes to the conservation and promotion of the cultural and natural heritage of Gerês.


We believe in sustainable tourism.

We believe that, when a travel arrives Porto and decides to go to Gerês, everybody wins: the traveler, the National Park, the local population and the city of Porto as well.

We believe that planting trees on Gerês is planting hope in a better future.

We believe that in each tree that we plant we will eternalize our memories as Gerês guides, as so as the people that we met, the laughing, the incredible surprises that the live nature of Gerês gave us... we will eternalize this extraordinary adventure that has been being part of Oporto Adventure Tours over the last 4 years.

We believe that you, traveler, that started to love Gerês as much as we do, are really happy knowing that part of you will be in Gerês forever!


Especially to you, that had the courage to do the non-touristic thing in Porto and followed our nature passion choosing our company: Obrigada!

 

planting trees oporto geres

 

All our travelers will be in our hearts next Saturday! Our hands will be you hands. Gerês will be greener in 2016!

Thank you for being always with us,

Oporto Adventure Tours team

 

Author: Carla Couto

(Oporto Adventure Tours owner)

5 reasons why to explore the Gerês National Park with a local guide

wild animals geres

The visit to Gerês National Park is almost mandatory for Oporto travellers.

The doubt is always which the best way to do it? On your own or with a local guide?
First of all, remember that Sergio and I (company owners) are passionate travellers of natural places all around the world. Every traveller will always be tempted to explore places by themselves; always looking for their own time management and freedom to choose where they want to go. One of the main reasons that made us start this company was the certainty that going to Gerês with a local guide would always be the best option for any traveller. Do you know why? Have a look:

1. Make the most of your time on your trip to Porto 

When we are travelling, time seems always not enough for all we aim to do. So, if you decide to visit it on your own, you will lose time with:
- All the journey logistics and planning (car rental or bus trip, etc.);
- Finding the spots of the waterfalls and lagoons;
- Finding a place to eat;
- Finding information on the places you want to visit;
And many other losses of time.

2. Only a clear mind with no concern will be capable to absorb completely all the natural surroundings of Gerês

Nowadays, relaxing can be a great challenge!
We are so used to be constantly worried about something, that it will be in fact strange to “turn-off” the button. However, the nature in Gerês is so expressive and dense that you are not able to absorb everything completely when you are worried with, either the safety of your car, or where you are going next. 
The challenge of “turning-off” the button may be bigger than crossing the Gerês on your own.

3. Silence is part of our tour

We are looking for nature as we are tired of listening to people around us.
We want to be on our own without interference, stimulus or distractions.
Therefore we want to go alone into nature or at least with someone very close to us.
Well, we, as company owners, as well as our guides feel the same.
Therefore, our 10 hour trip will always have enough moments to be on our own, being this also the reason why our tours don’t have more than 8 participants.

4. Safety counts 

Poorly signposted trails, paths forbidden for cars, slippy stones, not many places with mobile phone access. There are so many risks you run when you decide to travel to Gerês on your own.... too many people (even locals) get lost, get hurt … is the risk really worth it?

5. Our local nature guides are special

We had some special criteria when selecting our guides to work with us. We were not looking for someone with a degree in tourism, nor a mountain monitor specialist….what we were looking for was someone genuinely interesting, that would be able to speak about a simple flower on the sidetrail, but also about the current political situation in Portugal, someone who could explain why we eat Francesinhas, we breathe football and we listen to Fado.....
The best thing in travelling are the people we meet during the journey… and we can guarantee you that our guides are worth to know!

However, being nice is not enough to be a guide for a full day in Gerês. Therefore we offer continuous internal training for our guide staff and every year we recycle knowledge and training on the following:

- Flora and fauna of Gerês;
- First aid;
- Evacuation procedures;
- Dangers and safety procedures in mountain terrains;
- Special cares to reduce the effects of human presence on nature, etc.

oporto adventure tours land rover

After reading these five reasons for visiting Gerês with a local guide, we can give you 50 other reasons, you may still want to do it on your own.
Independently from what you decide, don’t let Gerês out of your trip plans when coming to Oporto. If you choose our services, we guarantee you that we will treat you, nature travellers, with the same respect and attention as we like to be treated when travelling. Just come... you definitely won’t regret it!

We are waiting for you!


See you soon.

Author: Carla Couto

(Oporto Adventure Tours owner)

Find the Off the Beaten Path in Porto

hiking mountains cow


This could be another one of the thousand million articles about travelling, but it is not, it won’t be.

Lately, travelling has become trendy. Every newspaper has its own section of where to go and what to do. Magazines are promoting it. Brands are using it as publicity. It’s in the movies, books, art shows, concerts… travelling is cool, admit it! It sells and who wants to be fashionable is doing it and if you are not, you should start thinking about it. That’s good, I am not complaining. Don’t get me wrong! Travelling is amazing and I think that everyone should really do it. Still, as in everything, this travelling boom highlights a dark side.

“I am the type of traveller who believes that you can have a real trip to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower”

Since travelling became kind of a product, people started to handle it as if it was one. They make lists of things to do in Porto, as they do when they go to the supermarket...
I have no problems with organization; I know that’s the best way to prepare a trip. I have problems understanding why people always choose the same tourist things to do and do not take the risk of doing something different.

For me travelling is much more than seeing things or being in places. 

Travelling is never about the images, the stamps on your passport or the lovely pictures on the postcards…. It is much more than that! It’s about becoming richer, not in money (give me a good restaurant with some nice beers and money will disappear), but in life, experience, things that will stick with you for the rest of your days.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably planning to come to Porto. Great! If you agree with my way of travelling, accept my suggestion on discover Peneda – Gerês National Park during your trip to Porto.

locals sharing portuguese food

This photo was taken during the Gerês Tour when the locals shared with our travellers the lunch in Pedra Bela View Point... It was hilarious!!

If you think that Gerês is only for nature lovers you are wrong, trust me: it’s one of the most authentic and cultural experience that you can have in Porto. Gerês is the heart of a country that is slowly getting old and disappearing.

You’ll find neither English speakers, nor sightseeing buses over there. However, you will surely see the humble smile of a shepherd that crosses your way, or you’ll be invited by an old woman to enter her house and show you her family.

I am a man that lives in a city. The first time I went to Gerês, I was travelling in my own country. The people, the food, the views, the place itself got into me and ever since, I didn’t want that trip to end. That’s why I started to work here. So let me share it with you, let me be the 6th thing to do in a 5 point-list and prove you that the only thing a real traveller MUST DO in Porto is to leave a blank space in every list for surprises.

I hope to see you soon. It will be a pleasure driving you to the off the beaten path in Porto and around.

 

Author: Rui Coelho
(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)

Stop the routine even when you are traveling, choose riding a kayak in Gerês National Park. Do you know why?

oporto paddle geres

This picture was taken during the kayak experience in Gerês National Park.

We usually land the kayak on small desert beaches in Caniçada. Then it’s only you, your kayak, calm water, landscapes and sometimes some strange wild life.

Kayak tour in Gerês National Park

Let’s start from the beginning...

Your day starts in Porto at around 8h30 am.

You see a 4x4 Land Rover parking in front of your accommodation, coming to pick you up.

The first thing that comes up to your mind is very probably: ”Oh my Goodness! I have booked a tour to Africa!!” Don’t worry... Gerês is closer than Africa but you will also be able to see powerful landscapes and amazing wildlife here.

It takes you about 90 min from Oporto to Gerês National Park by 4x4 (packed with fun getting to know the guide and other travellers like you!). The kayaks and paddles are already waiting for you.

You don’t need to have experience to do it, we provide the best equipment, insurance, and our guides will always be prepared to teach you and help you on your way…

No rush, take your time to breathe and absorb the powerful green surroundings, and without even realizing it, you will soon arrive at a small, golden beach of Gerês National Park.

Time to stop, relax, swim... But you will be not alone!!!

geres fauna crayfish

 

Crayfish (lagostins), our first travellers from the USA!

Oporto Adventure Tours was the first company in Oporto organizing one-day tours in Gerês National Park, curiously, our first travellers were Americans.

But they weren’t the ones bringing Crayfish to Gerês! Crayfish has been there for some time. We don’t know when but is possible that someone brought them from the United States.

One thing we’re sure. They don’t belong here!

You can lay down, relax and sunbathe without worrying about this little visitor. It doesn’t attack people. We are the predators here! It is also very common to find remains of crayfish in otter feces, those also being crayfish predators!

 

Crayfish are considered to be a pest to the Portuguese native wildlife, eating amphibians like frogs and salamanders, so I definitely support the idea of eating them!

white water beach

Remember, why you should participate in a Kayaking tour in Geres National park when you travel to Porto?

During the kayak tour you can find:

- Peace
- Golden beaches
- Calm clear waters
- Fun
- And tasty crayfish...

See you, soon!

Your local guide,

 

Author: Ricardo Guerreiro 

(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)

The magic secrets of the winter hiking tour to Gerês National Park from Porto

Did you know that hiking through the Gerês National Park you can find the world’s most famous mushroom on the world?

flora peneda geres mushroom

 

Amanita Muscaria it is very iconic with it's bright red cap and white dots and it’s portrayed in many traditional stories, especially related with Christmas or funky forest magic.

For some reason, there’s an association of this fungus with dwarves, gnomes and with Santa Claus. There’s much speculation about the relationship of it with the origin of Christmas.

One hiking Tour from Porto, you find this mushroom by an oak.  Do not eat it! It’s toxic! It can become edible, though, if detoxicated through various boiling’s, discarding the water. Better don’t to try!

 

 

supermario mushroom

 

Ingesting the fly agaric raw has unpredictable effects, ranging from nauseas to One of the euphoria, confusion and hallucinations. These secondary effects served as inspiration for many popular culture stories:

Alice in wonderland learns that while eating a special mushroom, she can control her size, getting bigger. This also inspired the Super Mario game, where Mario can eat mushrooms to become big and strong.

As local guides experts in Peneda-Gerês National Park we have curiosities to tell about everything that exists in the park... That’s one of the reasons why we recommend one-day visit trip to Gerês National Park during your trip to Porto with a local guide and not by your own.

 

 

Visiting Gerês in the Winter is, for us, a special and charming experience, not only because of these magical mushrooms, other autochthonous plant species and wild animals, but there is also a unique mountain sound that involves our souls.

Our favourite animal is a local wild horse, named GARRANO. Another advantage of visiting Gerês in the winter is that it is easier to find and observe them in their natural habitat. That could be an amazing and involving experience, too.

We´ll tell you more about them and that special experience in a next post.

Your local guide,

 

Author: Ricardo Guerreiro 

(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)