Peneda-Gerês National Park walking vacation in Portugal
€695 excluding flights
Description of Peneda-Gerês National Park walking vacation in Portugal
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetThis 1-week self-guided walking vacation is an amazing opportunity to explore the Peneda-Gerês National Park, classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Being a walking vacation, this is already a low-impact way to explore the area but we are serious about minimising any negative impact of our programmes in Portugal’s only national park. We are accredited by the Portuguese Nature Conservation and Forestry Institute (ICNF) and therefore authorised to operate in any Portuguese Natural Park.
To maintain our ICNF accreditation, we assume responsibility for providing our self-guided clients with a full briefing and detailed instructions of their route, which includes guidelines for avoiding damage to the natural environment as well as structural heritage such as stone shepherd’s shelters and not to pile stones to create false cairns.
The use of transport on this hiking programme is kept to the bare minimum – walking circular routes or village-to-village is the standard and we include circular walks to reduce the number of luggage transfers and allow clients to spend more time getting to know their base villages.
On the few occasions when taxis are required, e.g. for luggage transfers or to offer clients the option of a slightly shorter walking day, we use local drivers to reduce carbon emissions and further support the local economy.
In each of the villages that we use as a base for our daily hikes, we have chosen comfortable country accommodations run by local entrepreneurs who incorporate sustainable eco-friendly practices into their operations, such as solar power for heating water. This not only guarantees that clients receive a warm welcome from someone who has intimate knowledge of the area but also ensures that the breakfasts and lunch packs are locally sourced, sometimes from the owner’s own farm or their extended family.
Our accommodation providers have renovated traditional stone cottages in keeping with the surroundings, repurposing original materials and often using traditional tools, fabrics and other artefacts in their interior décor and outside spaces which both add to the overall ambience and offer insights into traditional ways of life in these parts.
We keep plastic waste to a minimum by providing refillable water bottles in the welcome pack and encourage clients to drink local tap water, which is fresh, clean and delicious. We supply rechargeable batteries for use with the GPS devices that clients use on our self-guided programmes.
Clients also have access to an App for their route, which reduces the need for printing information, such as roadbooks for each person.
We also encourage guests not to waste water by not taking overly-long showers or leaving lights on when not needed.
PeopleThis special programme takes place in an area of low population density that is dotted with rural villages that have preserved their roots and traditions. Life is hard in these isolated mountain villages and many of the younger generation left long ago to find work in larger towns or abroad, leaving an aging population to survive on a subsistence income.
Through our work in the Peneda-Gerês National Park, we are working with the local communities to encourage them to follow sustainable tourism guidelines when developing their own businesses and bringing much-needed income into the area, which inspires younger people to invest in their roots by setting up projects and boosts the low incomes of the local residents. For example, one of our accommodation providers in Soajo also owns and runs a very popular traditional restaurant in the village and, thanks to the people who come to the region on our programmes, Rosa and her husband have been able to renovate more than one decaying cottage for tourism, which goes towards improving the overall sense of care and pride that locals take in their village.
One of the ways in which we make sure our programmes bring money into these marginalised mountain communities is to encourage clients to purchase various quality products made from locally-sourced ingredients that are typical for the region e.g. jams, cookies, honey and aromatic or medicinal herbs from village shops and their accommodations in Lindoso and Soajo.
Our packed lunches and picnic baskets are provided by our selected accommodations and contain fresh, tasty local products such as smoked meats, free range eggs, goat’s cheese, corn bread and seasonal fruit or jams.
This tour was designed to respect the way of life of local populations as well as the environment and provide our clients with a genuine experience that leads to meaningful interactions with another culture and makes local people feel appreciated and motivated so our info pack includes advice on interacting respectfully with the people they meet in isolated villages and some handy phrases in Portuguese. As they walk from village to village, visitors will see how villagers manage their smallholdings, often farming by hand and using age-old agricultural practices.