The National Park of Peneda-Geres is located in the north of Portugal, in the northeast of Minho, extending to Tras-os-Montes. This is a protected area since 1997, considered by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. It stands out for its scenic beauty, the variety of fauna and flora and for its value of ethnographic traditions.
We left on a Friday following the train rails to Braga and then we boarded a bus to the small village of Campo do Geres. It was about 7 pm when we reached our destination and the sun began to make its way to the moon. We set up the tent, prepared a small meal and went to bed, because in the next day the adventures were waiting for us!
We woke up and early in the morning several birds twittering around us. We prepared the backpacks and started to wandered around a trail that would sum up to about 15 km long. We did a couple of breaks along the way to observe the surroundings, draw and walk . The most important thing was to be there and enjoy the scenery. The dam of the river “Rio Homem” was quite full due to the constant rains that occurred during the Spring this year, so the margins were higher than we would expect. However, we went ahead and through pine woods and gorse fields, we managed to go there and take a peek at the river. Then, we quickly decided to go to the northern shore, at the foothills of the mountain “Serra Amarela”, trying to see the ruins of “Vilarinho-das-Furnas”, a village that in 1972 was submerged by the dam. From times to times, when the water levels lower down, the village emerges, presenting us with a mystical glimpse to the past.
Everything was very green and flourished. We could see many ferns, oak trees, hollies and ivies… Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis), tree pipit (Anthus trivialis), dunnock (modularis Prunella) and The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) are some of the birds that accompanied us along the way.
Half way through we made break for lunch next to a beautiful waterfall. In the shade of pine trees and with a view to the river, we used the Forestia self-heating system which allowed us a delicious hot meal of fusili all’uovo with chicken bolognese and grana padano.
With recovered energies, we hit the trail and followed in the direction of the village. Unfortunately, due to the water levels, we weren’t able to see the ruins. We then started heading back to the campsite…
The next day, we packed everything and with the backpacks in our backs, we walked part of The Geira Roman Road. This route, built in the last third of the first century A.D., follows from Braga all the way to Astorga in Spain, summing up to a total of 215 miles (318 km). The trail goes through the “Mata da Albergaria” woodland, a beautiful forest and one of the most important woodland of the National Park. The human presence is controlled in order to minimize its impact in ecosystem. The waterfalls flow abundantly and we didn’t resist cooling off and refreshing in one of them. We continued to mile XXXI, where there was another beautiful waterfall, the surrounding area feels fresh and we eat a snack nearby. After that, we returned to the starting point.
The relationship with nature allowed us to rest and take a break from city life, time is counted from the duration of the sunlight and not dictated by the clock, the act of drawing allows us to look and try to reproduce what nature once had already designed, sound recording allows us to stop and listen, notice the silence and see where the sounds come from. Despite the physical fatigue we always come back with more energy, creativity and desire to return, because by walking, the world is bigger and there is more to discover!