At Casa do Guarda, close to the heart of the Serra Gardunha mountain range, Jorge Pessoa is rightly proud of his environment. Sited on a hilltop in a natural park and ecological reserve, Natura Glamping is a retreat for the most discerning and environmentally aware traveller. The road up the hillside to Natura Glamping is narrow and winding, every metre travelled upwards serves to enforce the feeling of leaving the world below far behind. Atop the hillside 6 large white orbs, or ‘domos’, are perched like giant golf balls affording views across a stunning, boulder scattered landscape. The ethos of Natura Glamping is simple, the objective is to blend with the surrounding natural landscape and leave no trace. Each of the six geodesic domes are fitted with all modern amenities – wi-fi, bathroom, air-conditioning, heating, and electricity; all giving preference to the use of natural and recycled materials and the use of renewable energy sources.
There is also a larger dome; a function room catering for weddings, celebrations of all kinds, corporate training, yoga and health retreats. There is an outdoor massage area with only the vast expanse of the sky as a roof. At night, it is also this vast expanse of open sky which attracts star-gazers from far and wide. Without the intrusion of urban light pollution the star jewelled heavens become the stage for a show of peace, quiet and celestial magic. But there are other reasons in the sky which draws visitors here. According to Jorge, there are many stories of unexplained happenings in the sky above the resort. “You can ask the locals,” he says, “but mostly they don’t like to talk about it so much for fear of being called crazy”. He reaches for his camera and finds an image. “I took this at sunset on the hill over there,” he explains as he displays the image of what appears to be a ‘human-like’ form with an enlarged skull. “I don’t know what it is, maybe a trick of the light…”, he shrugs, “you decide.
If it the image is the image of an alien life form, it has certainly picked one of the most beautiful places on the planet to come visit. Natura Glamping also houses a restaurant, cafe, facilities for forest sports and hiking in the wild, photographic safaris and art holidays. There is a shop selling only natural and local products; some of the proceeds going towards well-deserving charities. Its walls and shelves are covered by the art and sculptures of local artists and the clothing hanging on its rails are produced from the finest yarns produced from the valued fleeces of the hardy mountain sheep which abound in the area. The name Gardunha derives from the Arabic word for ‘refuge’ and indeed, here on this isolated and spectacularly beautiful mountain top, luxuriously encamped in your own private world, it does truly feel like a refuge from a far away world.
This Natura Glamping post is a part of a series of 9 posts I wrote based on my journey to Beira Baixa in March 2016. Please find the links o the other articles bellow:
This Natura Glamping post was written by my inspiring friend Brendan Harding as part of my ongoing collaboration with the Centro de Portugal Tourism Board. All opinions are my own. Photo credits to my inspiring friend Emanuele Siracusa.