460 Miles on Foot Through Portugal
From the Algarve’s beautiful beaches, to the mountains of Centro, through the rural Alentejo and the trails of the Rota Vicentina, we have marveled as these six weeks spent hiking in Portugal.
Portugal: The first country of our aventure
On the 5th of February, we were on Portuguese soil for the first time and the 2PVA’s adventure was starting. The itinerary we followed, and which we will follow for the next 15 months, is the one we both imagined. Our route sometimes borrows well-known trails, such as Rota Vicentina or Via Alpina. The rest of the itinerary is the result of a handful of hours spent dreaming looking at maps.
We started from Cape St. Vincent in Sagres and went North sometimes along the coast, sometimes inland. We skirted the Western edge of the Algarve until the beautiful village of Odeceixe. In this season, we were not disturbed by the crowd on the trails, a few hikers crossed occasionally, foreigners for the most part. Difficult to imagine a more enchanting setting to start our adventure. Without this wind that blew continuously, we could even walk in summer outfits as the weather was nice!
Less touristy than the Algarve, the Alentejo is just as sublime and welcoming. From Odeceixe, we walked on the Fishermen’s Trail and then on the Rota Vicentina’s Historical Trail. This breathtaking nature, the wild coast, the steep cliffs populated by storks that come here to nest before spring left us speechless.
From Sagres to Sao Luis, we hiked in the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejano and Costa Vicentina, the first of a long series of treks.
In Alentejo, we discovered two beautiful Natural Reserves, the one of Santo André and Sancha Lagoon and the one of the Sado Estuary. Very wild, these reserves are a paradise for bird watching.
In this region, our bivouac searches have often been made difficult by the army worms. In this season, they leave their nest in the pines to bury themselves in the ground and begin their transformation into a butterfly. Extremely stinging, they are also everywhere!
Arriving in the Centro region, we are not going to lie to you, we had only one desire: relief! So we went to the Natural Park of Serras de Aire and Candeeiros to stride across our first hills. Here, as elsewhere in Portugal, we were upset by all those trash found on the side of paths and roads, but this has been an opportunity for us to launch our 1KG FOR THE PLANET program. Every day we collected garbage up to about 1 kg, until we could throw it in the trash and start again! We hope to inspire as many people as possible to make this simple gesture during each outing in kind.
Excited by our first hills, we headed for the Serra da Lousã and Serra do Açor. These are the mountains that border the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, the highest point of metropolitan Portugal.
In the Serra da Lousã, we followed a portion of the Schist Villages Trail, these 27 villages made of schist stones spread across the mountains. If some were abandoned once, they live today more than ever thanks to the energy of people wishing to preserve the heritage of their region. A nice hiking trail (even in the rain) winds between each village.
To our regret, the weather did not allow us to climb to the top of the Serra da Estrela. We just observed its snowy summit a little further.
Our Portuguese adventure ended through beautiful fortified villages like Sabugal, Sortelha or Belmonte! We now continue to Spain where about 1,000 miles of trails await us!
Marie & Nil – 2PVA
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