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Biosphere reserve, natural wildlife and mountain villages

Located in northeast Portugal, the Peneda-Gerês, the only Portuguese protected region classified as a National Park, is a proud member of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

An authentic world of its own, human activity is incorporated with Nature in a harmonious manner whereby ancient values and traditions handed down from the ages live on in the villages and areas of the Park. A majestic mountainous region covering an area greater than 70,000 hectares, the Peneda-Gerês is one of Europe’s greatest natural attractions due to its rare and spectacular landscapes, areas of ecological and ethnographic interest and the variety of its native flora and fauna. The Peneda-Gerês fauna includes Iberian ibex, deer, wild horses, wolves and birds of prey. Boasting some of the richest flora in Portugal, there are pine trees, yews, chestnuts and oaks, as well as a variety of medicinal plants.
Fill your lungs with fresh air as you ramble through the National Park. On sunny days, the green landscape is bathed in an all-pervading blue light rising from the waters of the many rivers and lakes.

The mountain villages of Castro Laboreiro, Peneda and Soajo are enchanting, mysterious places, where time appears to have stopped still amid the typical rustic architecture and ancestral traditions of their population. The local cuisine is a revelation of unique flavours and traditions. Experience the life of the local inhabitants as you discover the incredible granite maize stores that are still used today, visit the beehives that produce the famous pure Gerês honey, see how local ceramics are handcrafted, and enjoy a glass of Vinho Verde wine and a slice of local corn bread classified by CNN Slow Food as one of the best breads in the world. As you walk along the trails through the Park, keep your eyes wide open as it is not unusual to come across herds of wild horses, groups of unique Cachena cows, a local breed of cattle that roam free in the mountains, and Castro Laboreiro dogs watching over flocks of sheep in the brandas and inverneiras.

This itinerary ends in the millennial towns of Ponte da Barca and Arcos de Valdevez, doors to the World Biosphere Reserve, where your will wish to stroll amongst medieval houses and across bridges where the sound of running water, birds and buzzing blue dragonflies fill the air. All around, spreading Vinho Verde vineyards and lush pastures form an idyllic scenario, the perfect end to your mountain walking holiday.

*For 2-3 people, to start in a different day of the week, a supplement fee applies. This fee isn't applicable to 4 or more persons


Day 1

Castro Laboreiro – Introduction to the Peneda-Gerês National Park

Begin your itinerary with a transfer from Porto airport to Castro Laboreiro, a village in the North of Portugal inside the Peneda-Gerês National Park. Located at the top of the mountain at a 1,170m altitude, this village boasts a remarkable historic and architectural heritage. A short walk from your hotel will take you on a stroll past the buildings of the ancient mountain village, across Roman bridges to the medieval church, the community bread ovens, the maize stores and the water mills. The walk up to the castle is short and accessible and invites you to explore the ruins of this ancient fortress in defence of the realm.
At the top, take advantage of the spectacular view to take the first of many admirable photographs that you will capture during the week.

Day 2

Stage 1 - Castro Laboreiro – Ancestral traditions and unique geological landscape

On your first day of your walking holiday across the Gerês, your route will take you along mind-blowing ancient tracks that in the past connected the fortified villages of the mountain people. The geological landscape is unique - chaos created by impressive blocks of rough and austere granite, huge boulders rounded by erosion over time. Imagine that you are transported back in time to the Middle Ages, as you note the inverneiras next to low-lying villages in sheltered valleys, where shepherds and their flocks spend the rough winter months, and the brandas, villages at the top of the mountains where men and animals move to during the hot weather. All along the path you will be amazed by historical-architectural ruins, the beauty of the forests and the flora and fauna that shelter on the banks of crystalline streams. You may come across a Castro Laboreiro dog, a local native Portuguese breed and one of the most ancient on the Iberian Peninsula. A fearless flock guard with strong protective instincts, these dogs are loyal and docile and devoted to their owners. Medium to large in size, they come in several colours although most owners prefer a dark wolf colour or light brindle. Suspicious of strangers, they will only bark if they sense something is wrong.

Day 3

Stage 2 - Peneda - Wildlife and discovering a mountain sanctuary

Today’s itinerary is pleasant and relaxing. You ramble across the mountain that separates Castro Laboreiro from Lamas de Mouro, from which you will obtain breath-taking views over both these villages.
The Peneda River winds its way through the trees and around the lima-covered fields, a form of cultivating the pastures typical of the higher mountain ridges. Here you will come across free-ranging Cachena cows, a breed of cattle native to the Gerês mountains, easily recognized by their elegant lyre-shaped long horns. The downhill trail follows the Peneda River valley, past small ponds of pure mountain water that invite you to refresh yourself on a hot summer’s day. You may also come across herds of Garranos, a local mountain breed of wild horses that roam freely in the region in all seasons. Small in size, chestnut brown in colour, they have bushy manes. Peneda, a small village nestled between the high peaks, surrounded by magnificent scenery, is your final destination. A feature of this village is an impressive neoclassic and baroque religious sanctuary. Your hotel is located in the centre of this small village, against the granitic massif of Peneda. Enjoy an enchanting evening!

Day 4

Stage 3 - Peneda - The massive granite mountain and a spell in the fresh mountain air

Venture up to the top of the Meadinha hill. All your efforts will be rewarded by the superb view. You will be amazed by the variety of landscapes before you, from the mountains to the forests. Wander along an ancient trail used by pilgrims to Our Lady of Peneda sanctuary, follow the narrow road used by the carts pulled by Barrosã bullocks, or take one of the many paths that meander across the massive granite mountain. The hike to the famous Lagoa de Meadinha bolder, lying sleepily in the middle of a crystal-clear lake, is amazing. According to an ancient legend, any woman who manages to place a stone on the top of the bolder will soon marry! Many women still try their luck today. Downhill, the scenic trail through the green mountains takes you back to the village of Peneda.

Day 5

Stage 4 - Soajo - Rustic village and the famous granite maize stores

Begin your day by going down the majestic steps from the sanctuary and continuing on the stone paths along the riverside. Pass through small villages of rustic stone houses where the local inhabitants are always happy to lend a hand to passing visitors who wish to hike uphill to Tibo and the spectacular, breath-taking panoramic landscape at the Miradouro da Gavieira vantage point. Stop a while and enjoy the view over the impressive Peneda Mountain Range, the village where shepherds and their flocks spend the winter months, the river weaving its way downhill through local farmers’ small green fields. Continue towards Soajo, a rustic village in a unique and captivating setting. Stroll along its narrow streets lined with typical houses, up to the enormous granite surface on which numerous stone maize stores are built and are still in use today to store and protect the corn cobs.

Day 6

Stage 5 - Soajo – Paths of Bread, Paths of Faith on this school-village

Today’s itinerary takes you along ancient ways, so-called the Paths of Bread, Paths of Faith. In older times, deeply religious pilgrims would walk along these trails to fulfil promises and acts of faith. The inhabitants of the village would travel these paths with wooden carts pulled by pairs of cows, first on their way to fertilize and work their maize fields, later to transport the grains of corn to the water mills from which they would take the flour to the communal wood ovens where they baked the traditional corn bread. This bread which is currently protected by Slow Food and is rated by CNN as one of the best breads in the world, will lead you on a memory walk through the nature and traditions of this village, this community’s true immaterial heritage. In this authentic school-village we suggest a tour of the beehives and the producer of the famous Gerês honey, a visit and tasting of the local Vinho Verde wine and a stop at a local ceramics workshop.

Day 7

Stage 6 - Arcos de Valdevez - Heritage, history, wine and culinary delights

At the beginning of the day, transfer to Ponte da Barca where you will start the last stage of your journey.
Located in the heart of a flourishing green region along the banks of the Lima River, Ponte da Barca is a picturesque town with charming stone and whitewashed houses and an elegant medieval bridge. It is famous for the fresh Vinho Verde wine that is produced in the surrounding vineyards. Stroll along its streets and beautiful riverside, follow the Vez greenway through green fields and small farms. The calm waters of the Vez River, replete with flora and fauna, will accompany you all the way to Arcos de Valdevez, your last stop. In this lovely town with its elegant houses and squares and a charming historic centre, you will delight in discovering a range of regional culinary specialties: tasty soups, salads, meat dishes and sausages, wine and the famous Charutos dos Arcos dessert, one of the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Sweets.
Take advantage of our “Wine & Specialties experiences” optional package and taste Vinho Verde and local specialties that we have prepared for your visit.

Day 8


Transfer back to Porto Airport.
End of your journey.

  • Organization of the program
  • Accommodation, 7 nights in double standard room, with breakfast included
  • Luggage transfer daily (1 piece of luggage per person)
  • Shared Porto airport transfers to the starting point of the tour and from the ending point of the tour to the airport, in a car, van or minibus
  • Shared mid-tour transfers
  • Login access to the app where the digitalized route is published, including a map, points of interest and route details. Clients must download the app to their own smartphones before beginning the tour and use it online/offline to guide themselves during their journey. We only provide one access code per person.
  • Guide (price on request)
  • Meals, wine tastings and cooking experiences (optional)
  • Travel Insurance. We do suggest: Nomads / Worldwide / Colombus
  • Personal expenses
  • Other items not mentioned
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