What’s the Adventure?
To many people, a holiday in Portugal means a visit to the Algarve’s golden beaches, or maybe a weekend break in the capital, Lisbon. But away from the coast it has so much more to offer – especially if you travel there in a Land Rover.
Unlike some other European countries, Portugal welcomes vehicles on to its off-tarmac tracks, which means you get fabulous access to its wonderful countryside. Our journey took us from breathtaking mountain routes in the north-east to the spectacular lowlands of the Alentejo region.
The idea for a Portugal adventure came when Land Rover enthusiast José Almeida got in touch to ask why we’d done little coverage of his country in recent years. ‘Put us in touch with someone who’ll guide us to the best places, José, and we’ll be there,’ was my answer. His response was quick: ‘I’ll do it!’
Our Favourite Bit?
The sun’s shining, the sky is blue and we’re soon climbing steeply on a loose gravel track with a series of sharp hairpin climbs. We pass through more vineyards, olive groves and rows of almond trees on our way to a spectacular viewpoint high over the Douro river at Penedo Durão. Here some vultures circle high on the thermals, getting an even better view than us of the impressive scenery.
On the next track, José tugs the local baker’s Transit van from a mudhole before we continue from Barca de Alva towards Castelo Melhor. The track becomes flanked by countless grapevines as we drop down to and then ford the River Côa en route to the Ramos Pinto vineyard at Quinta da Ervamoira.
We take an interesting tour around the vineyard’s museum, guided by Sónia Teixeira – who drives a Defender 110.
Making it out alive
It’s a wonderful end to a superb adventure. We’ve experienced some great drives, visited interesting places, stayed in excellent accommodation and enjoyed a variety of delicious food. I was certainly surprised at what a wonderfully varied place Portugal is. It’s impossible to say which was the high point because it’s all been so good. We’ll be back.
The full story can be found in the September 2011 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.