The Arribes, as it is called in Zamora, is a deep ravine that have been carved by the Douro. Zamora shares this space with Portugal, to whom the river makes a frontier and continues to Salamanca. In this trajectory, the Douro sometimes descends more than 400 feet, causing a spectacular canyon, a true geological throat whose slope has been exploited for the production of electrical energy. On the Portuguese side you can take a boat tour of the Douro and hear the authoritative explanation by a Portuguese biologist describing all the places you see from the boat.
On our motorcycle route on a summer day in northern Portugal (Ponte da Barca, Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo), we took the opportunity to visit the Church of Santa Lucia, which is located at the top of the mountain that shares the same name, from whose background you can see the ocean, the city of Viana and the estuary at the mouth of the Lima river. This location is considered to have one of the best views in the world by National Geographic. Besides being situated in gorgeous location, which you can walk to, get to by car and elevator, and it's amongst the lush green forests with the scent of fresh flowers and eucalyptus, and the ancient civilizations where the Celts lived in their huts. On the outskirts there are hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, etc., which allow for a great day of hiking, sightseeing and enjoying nature, all while enjoying views of the city, the sea and the Lima river. Great bike route!
When I visited Guarda it was in the month of December, and one of the things that really surprised me was the thick fog that covered the entire city. This is because the city itself is in the middle of the Sierra de Estrella Natural Park. The Natural Park covers an area of about 101,000 hectares, it is the largest protected area in Portugal. In it you can find differing landscapes, from the country's highest massif in Torre (1993 meters above sea level), the huge boulders of Càntaros, the Videmonte plateau or the Zęzere glacial valley. The Serra da Estrela Natural Park has some unique plant species to the country and has been declared a Biogenetic Reserve. Also broom, heather, black oak and juniper are plentiful. As for the wildlife, animals like wolves,the common buzzard, foxes, quail, muskrat and otter Iberian abound.
On the way to Lisbon, from Oporto in north-south direction, you can find this point of the Portuguese coast. It's not quite as famous as the Cabo de Roca, the most western point of the Iberian Peninsula, but it's very nice. You should visit because you find amazing things there: rocks from another planet, vertiginous cliffs, capricious rock formations, etc..
I know a few crazy lighthouses, and this is one of those that you can't miss. Of course, the view of the lighthouse from the road and the Cape of San Vicente is one of the most amazing in Europe. Prepare your trip to coincide with sunset - a show that's hard to describe.
Caldeira Vellha or Caldera Vieja in Spanish is one of the most popular on the island, and is a natural monument. It is reached by the road that runs from the Lagoa do Fogo at Ribeira Grande, and what we found, after a short walk along a wooden walkway between thick vegetation quaternary aspect, is a medium-sized pool in which falls a cascade of cold water. You are surrounded by giant ferns, I had only seen this size in New Zealand, and is a perfect (and free) way to finish an exhausting day of touring the island. I jumped into the pool for a bit of relaxation, and by the time we had to return, it was almost dark. I certainly didn't want to leave this lovely place.
This beautiful corner of Portugal was declared a Natural Park in 2000 and is an area of almost 90000 hectares. In summer, there are many tourists and in winter tourism is marked by the people that flock to the ski resort. The Sierra's composition is essentially granite, which together with the erosion of the last ice has given way to the formation of various glaciers. Its wildlife includes the Boar, the Wolf, the Partridge the Golden Eagle and Otter. Trees include Pines, Oaks, some Birch, Maple Brown. This protected Natural Area provides a useful reference point for all walkers and hikers and is a worthwhile place to visit in this area of Portugal.
The Berlengas archipelago is a Biosphere natural reserve 15 kilometers from the municipality of Peniche. There you can get there by boat leaving the port between 9:30 -10:00 h. In the morning it depends on the time of year and returns from the island at 16:30. It is a paradise that is certainly worth a visit, we can traverse the island by boat through the cliffs and swim in crystal clear water beaches, is also an ideal place for birdwatchers for nesting seabirds.
The private botanical garden Jose do Sing has been in the same family for many generations. D. Maria Wilhelmina had an interest in botany, and her husband Jose do Canto decided to construct the garden, which for 50 years was improved and expanded with new species between the years 1846 and 1898 (the year of the death of Jose do Canto). It has about 6000 species coming from all continents along several impressive Australian trees over 10 meters high. The building has been converted partly into a hotel.
The Natural Park of the North Coast has an area of 440 hectares and extends along 18 km from the estuary of the River Cávado in Braga and the town of Apulia. It is one of the principle areas to swim on the north coast of Portugal with empty beaches with clear waters and light sand dunes scattered with greenery. It is a protected area in the country.
The municipalities of Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo Antonio are located at the mouth of the Guadiana, which forms a marshy area declared a Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area for Birds. It's a great marsh of 2,089 acres, with lots of fish, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, insects and molluscs, as well as thousands of birds such as white storks, flamingos, herons and cormorants. The dry areas have lots of vegetation including fig and almond trees. There are different routes you can take to get to know this natural reserve in depth, watching the local birdlife and the salt production process.
During one of our visits to the northern region of Portugal, we crossed the wonderful Montesinho Natural Park, bordering the Sierra de la Culebra Zamora, a winding road. This nature reserve occupies the territories of Braganza and Vinhais, in the region of Tras-Os-Montes. With an area of over seventy-four thousand hectares, it is one of the largest natural parks in our neighboring country of Portugal. It has a beautiful natural landscape of rolling hills and boulders with a rich vegetation of poplars, alders, willows and large black oak forests, chestnut and oak trees. There is also a great diversity of rare and endemic tree species characteristic of this area. In this natural environment live many wild animals such as the wolf, roe deer and wild boar, as well as many birds and raptor species. The highest mountain points of the park are the Sierras de Coroa (standing at one thousand two-hundred and seventy-three meters) and Montesinho (standing at one thousand four-hundred and eighty-six meters). There are also valleys crossed by rivers such as the Mind, Rabaçal, the Tuela, the Baceiro, the Taste and Macas. Despite the winding road, it is worth the trouble to visit this natural environment, take a walk (no marked trails) or just inhale a breath of fresh air and admire the scenery, especially in spring and autumn.
At the entrance of the park, to which entrance is free, but not the car park which you have to be use to leave the car, you see a life-sized statue of Druid and from this you can suspect that the place is very special. After ten minutes walk along a lovely walk dotted with flowers, passing by a chapel and you'll come to the interpretation center and bird watching, it very modern, made of volcanic rock, and fully integrated into the environment, very close to the Lagoa das Furnas, so called because there are several areas with volcanic activity. It is a very peaceful and totally recommended, full of telluric energy.
This young man seemed to be having a spiritual conversation with the sea, and in a time of intense conversation, he turns his back showing his disagreement. It was a very intense moment, because it was only the ocean and the young man, in the most intimate of settings, accompanied by the music of the waves and the wind.
The Acute Dunes Park, founded in the year 1997, is situated next to the Acute beach , in Vila Nova de Gaia. You can access it by the road, you just have to walk about 18 kilometers along the beaches of Vila Nova de Gaia. In the park you can see some plant species that only exist in that area. The visit is free. Once you enter, you can visit along the wooden paths that run throughout the park. Each species has little signs explaining the rigor. Its a very entertaining if you are around that area.
A bit dry when we went as no rain since June, but still fairly green. I suggest finding some of the local springs around monchique, there is also an amazing restaurant near the the top of monchique town (the best food I've ever tried).