Do you know the relationship between aspirin and willows that grow in Gerês National Park?
In fact, there are records as old as 2,400 years (Hippocrates) of using the willows bark and leaves to heal headaches.
Curious enough, you can easily find this tree in humid areas in Gerês. We Portuguese call it Salgueiro or Borrazeira-Preta.
Besides being a strong tree that stabilizes riverbeds and brings winterly flowers for the delight of butterflies and bees, the willow tree produces salicine as a defense mechanism. That became the main component for aspirin, developed in the beginning of modern pharmacy in the 19th century.
We live in a world of immediate consumption, where everything is so easy to get, that we forget to think about the source of things.
In our hike tour through National Park of Gerês we're able to find this tree and honour it properly. After all, who among us never used an aspirine?
Nonetheless, take care, for the salicine exists to defend the tree, and it may cause stomach problems if taken in excess.
Dear travelers in order to prevent any ache, nature will offer you an even better remedy: travel, find new places, walk in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Nature. Stop for a minute, lay down under a willow tree and breathe.
Simple things work! Come and try it out!
Your local guide,
(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)
We live in a busy world...
Fast is the normal speed nowadays. Cars are honking, people are rushing, phones are ringing, beeping, buzzing. The TV is on, the radio is playing, the computer is charging, the tablet is shaking! Mobiles, telephones and smartphones. E-mail, Facebook, Instagram, twitter. Everything is connected. Everything is immediate, since the news, to our simple conversations. Anytime and everywhere there’s something on with its little red, white, or blue light calling for us, stealing our attention.
Some years ago, only the cities could be that busy, all that noise and people rushing through the streets… But now, we’ve brought the city to ourselves. We’ve forgotten how to be alone, how to be disconnected.
Please, don’t get us wrong. We love Porto, We really do! All that human chaos happening in just one spot has its magic and fascination too. But as local outdoor guides there’s one thing We love even more and that’s the ability to just stop, stop and unplug yourself from the rest of the world. I promise you, what happens after it is magical…
Ok, We know you’ve come to Porto. You want to see the city, the people, feel the culture… Perhaps you don’t even like to be alone, you’re a party monsters who just wants to hang out with thousands of different people and have fun. Ok, I get it - and love it!
Porto is an amazing city to all of that, but please, please give me a try. Let me show you a hidden part of Porto, a wildest and greener one. No phones, no computers, no cars. Not thousands of different people, just ten or twenty locals actually, but real - as real as it can gets! And genuine. People from the true Portugal, with all its culture authentic and unchanged.
Come with me and meet Peneda-Gerês National Park. Let’s escape from all the buzzing and fuzzing, the beeping and ringing. Let’s unplug ourselves, stop for a while and appreciate the small and simple things: a hike in the woods, the blossom of a flower, the way how the sun comes through the leaves above us.
Let’s forget everything else and remind what means just to be. I don’t want you to take some beautiful pictures or nice stories back home, we want more! I want to change you. I want you to have an experience that sticks with you, that changes the way you see your life and the rest of the world.
Trust us if you come, at the end of the day you will know the importance of disconnection. You’ll go back home with all your pretty pictures (because you will, since the beauty of the park is breathtaking) and funny stories, but above it all you’ll be changed, a different person.
Don’t you believe? Just come and see for yourself… You can share later.
(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)
Visit the Gerês National Park during the Autumn you will witness to the refreshing explosion of colors and smells during the magical process of nature metamorphosis.
This plant – Crocus serotinusis a stunning and good example of resilience. You can find it in Portugal, western Spain and Morocco, namely in the mountains.
There are two species of Crocusappearing throughout the year in Gerês. They announce change, the coming of a new season. This one blooms in the end of September and in October, announcing the Fall and thus earning the name of Autumn saffron. You can tell the difference between the two by looking to the female part of the flower, that is bigger and branched in C. serotinus. But you probably won't need that, since the other one flowers in Spring!
Despite having this expensive aromatic herb name, it's not used as a spice. The "saffron" spice comes from a very similar species (Crocus sativa) found in Greece and Southwest Asia; it's basically an overdeveloped male part of that flower, thought to be the product of human selection in Antiquity. Yet, it is possible to make yellow and orange dyes from the Autumn saffron (fact that seems unknown by most people!). The widespread use of this flower is in gardening, being very much appreciated for it's colour, blooming time and easy care.
In our day from Porto to Gerês will be very easy for you to see them... on the trail to "Blue well" , close to the Mata Albergaria or Pedra Bela are some of the spots that we will visit during our tour and were you can find it.
Photography nature lovers will find it irresistible to play with the purple colors of the blooming fields, along with the green and little droplets of water.
For us, Oporto Adventure Tours guides, this resilience and strong will to prolong life further than summer is a big inspiration, to continue threading our paths, even with worse meteorological conditions. We know that in the end of a hike there's always a surprise.
Small things matter.
Small is beautiful.
For more information about the fauna and flora from Geres visit our guide's blog.
Author: Ricardo Guerreiro
(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)
Come get inspired, come feel the Park, the wilderness, the beauty hidden in every corner and shade of green
Miguel Torga the greatest Portuguese writers that love Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Miguel Torga was one of the greatest Portuguese writers of the 20th century. He was born in a small village of Vila Real, in the northeastern part of Portugal. Coming from a poor background he always felt a strong connection with nature and with the traditional Portuguese ways of living.
He worked for his family and studied to be a priest but then he quitted the Lord’s word and went to Brazil to work in a coffee farm and only after that, he was able to finish his studies. Thanks to a rich uncle (the owner of the coffee farm) and as a way of paying him all the work he has done, Miguel Torga came back to Portugal and started studying medicine. He studied in Coimbra, where all of his literary work started.
His real name was Adolfo Correia da Rocha, but he soon adopted the pseudonymous that made him famous. The choice of his name is the perfect example of how strong the connection he had with nature and he knew exactly how to merge it with the love he had for literature. He chose Miguel in honor of Miguel Cervantes and Miguel de Unamuno, two famous Spanish writers, and Torga because that’s a common name given by the northern Portuguese people to heather, a small wild plant that covers the top of the mountains with beautiful pink, purple or white flowers. Along his work one can perceive this love symbiosis that was always present in his books.
As a true nature lover, he couldn’t be indifferent to Peneda-Gerês National Park. The wilderness and beauty of it conquered his eyes, his heart and most important, his writing.
In his diaries you will find many poems inspired by the astonishing landscapes of Gerês (for example, the one in Pedra Bela viewpoint), the animals and plants, the humble way of living the simple life of a shepherd or a farmer.
You can really feel how rich and inspiring the Park is, through the words of Miguel Torga: “The loftiness of the mountains, the whispers and secrets of pine and oak trees, the freedom of the falcons, the wisdom of the stones.” You can read it in the landscape and you can accept his invitation and actually live it with Oporto Adventure Tours.
Come with us, let us show you why all of those poems were written. Come get inspired, come feel the Park, the wilderness, the beauty hidden in every corner and shade of green.
Come live Peneda-Gerês National Park and who knows, perhaps in the end of the day you’ll find the poet hidden within you...
Author: Rui Coelho
(Oporto Adventure Tours guide)
Traditionally Rafting is a sport which consists of descending down fast moving rivers in inflatable boats called rafts.
For us rafting means the adrenaline of descending rivers, the fascination of being in a canyon surrounded by great mountains and the comfort of taking a hot shower at the end of rafting.
Finally as traditional foodies as we - Portuguese are, the icing in the top of the cake will be eating and drinking like it was our last day on earth.
That’s why rafting in Rio Paiva is so special and we have such a pleasure to make it possible for all the nature and adrenaline travellers that come to visit Porto.
Paiva River is characterised by it's steep granite laced banks, green and dense vegetation and unspoilt natural beauty.
It is one of the clearest rivers in Europe and there is an abundance of fish and birds, so you may even catch a glimpse of an otter or some other fascinating kind of wild animal.
The river’s rocky landscape, considerable slope, winding journey and relatively narrow bed offers extreme rafting fun and natural obstacles including waterfalls, waves, holes, bends, trees and crazy jumps!
On the other hand, it is a very safe spot for inexperienced rafters to some degree and it has different levels of difficulty.
Our guides are experienced, holding internationally recognised certificates and the equipment is chosen in detail so that you can obtain the highest level of safety and comfort.
Rafting season usually starts around the end of October and finishes in the beginning of June. So you don't want to miss your escape to nature when you come to Oporto during winter.
At the end of rafting you will be starving... so our suggestion is Arouca. It is the best place for meat lovers around Porto we assure you will discover a new indigenous wine, as every region in Portugal has their own grape varieties.
We don't want to end this post without talking about the locals you will meet during our activities and in the regional restaurant. After this encounter, you will understand why Portugal is known by the hospitality of their inhabitants.
Travelling during the winter to Porto?
Rafting is the experience you don't want to miss!
A full day of rafting from Porto with pick-up and drop-off service, safety equipment, local guides and traditional lunch - €85/person
Author: Carla Couto
(Oporto Adventure Tours owner)