Serra da Estrela Adventure Sports include trekking, hiking, climbing, canyoning and mountain biking. The mountain offers adventure from the beginner to the expert mountaineer. For the adventurous and lovers of the direct contact with nature, the Serra da Estrela is a space full of quests to offer. Serra da Estrela is an inviting mountain, and because of its old age – the oldest mountain system in Europe, it is very “polished” and not crass and sharp like the alps. This makes it accessible for almost anyone to enjoy nature and adventure sports.
Serra da Estrela Adventure Sports
The orography of the Serra da Estrela can misinterpret the mountain as being an “easy one”- a technically light mountain. Nevertheless, it is a mountain with 2000 meters of altitude and with a big Atlantic influence. This means the weather changes in moments. Despite constant warnings and information warning for persons not to adventure themselves into the mountain without knowledge, Manuel, and his team are called upon to rescue someone from the mountain. I am not mentioning this to frighten the reader, but to caution them to the need to the need of a guide, proper equipment, and necessary preparation before venturing out into the mountain.
For the non-extreme nature lover, the Serra da Estrela Natural Park set up a series of hiking and trekking trails, which can be easily navigated in spring or summer. There are several companies organizing these tours, all of which with professional guides who know what they are doing. The Portal da Serra da Estrela is a good place to start. Look at A2Z Adventures and Green Traks also. For those of you staying at the Casa das Penhas Douradas, the Hotel has made its own hiking routes around the hotel, so all you need to to is ask for the route map. Given the specificity of this region, I recommend that you ditch your daily weather app and log in to Meteoblue.com. This is precise online weather forecasting tool, which can be used by anyone and is far more correct than other “good weather + sunshine sites”. We used it during this trip to forecast cloud altitude, sunlight times, hourly snow and temperature ranges.
The zone of the Cantaros is the most alpine and mountainous terrain. Covão da Ametade, Cantaro Magro, Cantaro Gordo, Cântaro Maior is where the experts should look for excitement. Here is where the top of the biggest glacier in Europe (by length) was located before the Tower plateau. Stretching for almost 11 kilometers, and in a fairly straight line, the Vale Glaciar is impressive to look at. Here is where you have the most technically difficult trails with extreme declines. One of the most spectacular and a personal favorite of Manuel is one that lasts for 10km and the total height range is 2000 meters. It was the core of this region that the first Portuguese climbers started to practice.
Here we recommend the services of local mountain meteorological expert, Victor Baia at vitorbaiameteo.pt.
Hiking / Trecking
Hiking in Portugal! There are around 250km of marked walking paths in Serra da Estrela mountain, which can also be used for mountain bikes or jeeps. It is time to discover the paths set out by the shepherds, and the unruly landscapes shaped by the glaciers. The flocks that roam free in the Estrela’s Upper Plateau. The glacier lagoons, the deep valleys, the source of the Rivers Mondego, Zêzere, and Alva, the high peaks, and breathtaking views…
Can you play spot the climbers on this first photo? And what about the second one? This just gives you an idea of how colossal this mountain range is and how ridiculous our size is when compared to Nature’s grandness.
Here you can see our guide getting ready to rappel down the Cantaro Magro, one of the Serra da Estrela most iconic Adventure sports experiences. I just wish I had taken my camera with me so you could see the sights that no one else can see from the roads.
Dubbed by Rough Guides as ” The best circular walk from Manteigas”, the Poço de Inferno waterfall route which takes around four hours. Due to the higher schistose peaks, formed by the rise of “plastic” hot magma through the harder rock formation, sheer cliffs, and abrupt drops are what Poço do inferno is all about. Over the years, the water carved its way through the granite giving origin to one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Portugal. It wasn’t cold enough when we were there, but local tell us that the frozen waterfall is the beauty of the Serra da Estrela. For the canyoning lovers, this is a magical place, where hidden behind the colossal granite mounts lies the Ribeira de Leandres, the constant fresh water stream that feeds the Poço do Inferno. It has a total drop of 176 meters, divided into 12 rappel sections, each with its own waterfall and “private lake”.
MTB (Mountain Biking)
The defining characteristic of the Serra da Estrela adventure sports takes its full potential with MTB (Mountain Biking). As I mentioned, the roads are in pretty good shape, making it a pleasure and a joyful ride to climb this mountain. Especially when you have MTB fanatics like Miguel (featured on his pro-MTB bellow) that spend over 5000 Euros in getting the latest equipment to explore the most beautiful vistas of Portugal. Add the “emptiness” of the roads and you will have little disturbance to remove you from just cycling your worries away. For the cycling enthusiasts, A2Z Adventures offers a tour called Granfondo SKYROAD Serra Da Estrela, where you get to pedal for 8 days around the Serra da Estrela. Check out the video bellow.
This Serra da Estrela Adventure Sports post is a part of a series of 8 posts I wrote based on my journey to Serra da Estrela on January 2016. Please find the links o the other articles bellow:
This Serra da Estrela Adventure Sports post was written 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.