Hiking from Foz d’Égua to Piódão

After hiking 5.1 miles in the Penhas Douradas region of the Serra da Estrela Nature Park the previous day, we enjoyed a leisurely 5th day on our Mountain Travel Sobek hiking tour to historic villages in Portugal. Today, we visited the highest point in mainland Portugal, hiked from Foz d’Égua to Piódão, and dined in an old Palace in Lousã where we stayed for the evening.

Upon leaving Casa das Penhas Douradas, our driver maneuvered our Sprinter Van, complete with USB charging stations, along the winding mountain road.  We enjoyed the beautiful views, while he focused on the two-lane passage.

hikers on volta das penhas douradas trail

Hiking Volta das Penhas Douradas Trail

On our fourth day of our Hiking to Portuguese Historic Villages Tour with Mountain Travel Sobek, we spent the morning in Serra de Estrela Nature Park.  Via the Volta das Penhas Douradas Trail, we hiked a 5.1 mile loop to the lake of Vale do Rossime, rather than to a village. 

This was a very enjoyable hike which began from the Casa das Penhas Douradas, a 17-room mountain resort perched at 4,921 feet (1,500 meters). Interestingly, the modern hotel, decorated in natural, local resources, was once a sanatorium.

The sanatorium was constructed after expedition leader and scientist Dr. Sousa Martins determined that Serra de Estrela, with its high altitude and clean air, would be a good place to treat tuberculosis in the late 1800’s.

rooftop view in sortelha

Sortelha, Belmonte, and Linhares da Beira

For our third day on our historic villages of Portugal tour, we took a day off from hiking and visited three of the twelve historic villages.  The villages we visited were Sortelha, Belmonte, and Linhares da Beira.


While Monsanto, which we visited yesterday, is known as the most Portuguese village of Portugal, Sortelha may rank as one of the prettiest.  Sorthelha, located in Sabugal, the heart of the Beira region of central Portugal, is situated atop a rock promontory.

Once a stronghold for the Moors, the medieval village is notable for its Hispano-Arabic origins.  After the Moors were driven out in the 12th century, Sortelha became a strategic part of the Portuguese empire in protecting its eastern border. In the string of fortresses, Sorthelha is the oldest and was the first castle built south of the Côa River.


Hike from Idanha-a-Velha to Monsanto

As we continue our tour of hiking to historic villages in Portugal, today we started in Idanha-a-Velha and ended in Monsanto for a 5.5-mile one-way trek.  This picturesque hike was one of my favorites during our six-day adventure.  Photographic opportunities abound in this slice of paradise in Central Portugal.

Idanha-a-Velha is part of the 12 Historic Villages of Portugal Program which the Portuguese government launched in 1991 with the goal of restoring and promoting a series of ancient villages important to Portugal’s history. The villages, located in the Beira interior region of Portugal, include the following:

  • Almeida
  • Belmonte
  • Castelo Mendo
  • Castelo Novo
  • Castelo Rodrigo
  • Idanha-a-Velha
  • Linhares da Beira
  • Marialva
  • Monsanto
  • Piódão
  • Sortelha
  • Trancoso
view from rota dos abutres

Hiking in Salvaterra do Extremo

After a few days in the Oeste Region of Portugal touring Óbidos and Nazaré and 36 hours in Lisbon, we finally began our Historic Village Hiking Tour in Portugal with Mountain Travel Sobek.  We began our six-day hiking tour early on a September morning when Ricardo picked up our group of eight and two guides from our hotel in Lisbon.  We drove northeast for approximately three hours until we reached Salvaterra do Extremo.

History of Salvaterra do Extremo

Salvaterra do Extremo is located on the border of Spain and Portugal in Portugal’s central region.  The origins of the historic village date all the way back to the Romans and then later to the Moors.  It became part of the Portuguese Kingdom in the 12th Century.

Its first fortification was likely built when it received a charter from King Sancho II in 1229. Though after the signing of the Treaty of Alcañices establishing Portuguese-Castilian border in 1297, Salvaterra do Extremo was refortified. 

Being located on the border, Salvaterra do Extremo assumed strategic importance.  During the Restoration War in the 17th century, the medieval castle and surrounding town were enclosed with new walls and guarded by the citadel.  While the walls were mostly demolished after the Peninsular Wars, some remnants remain.


Lisbon in 36 Hours

History of Lisbon

Lisbon, also known as the City of Seven Hills, is the capital city of Portugal.  Located at the mouth of the Tagus River, it is also mainland Europe’s westernmost capital.  It’s strategic location for seafaring and being a gateway to Europe for South America and Africa has led to its cultured history.

It has been influenced by the Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Christians.  Between the various rulers and the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 that virtually razed the city, Lisbon features layers of heritage and architecture.  

Each of its neighborhoods, some atop hills and others at sea level have their own vibes.  During our visit to Lisbon, we spent most of our time in the Baixa, Alfama, and Belém neighborhoods.  We also took several walks along the Avenida da Liberdade, due to our hotel location (more on this later).


Free Giveaway Just in Time for Summer Travel

I’m pleased to announce a free giveaway in conjunction with GPSMyCity, a travel app that provides offline GPS guided maps for numerous cities.

For a limited time (May 03, 2023 – May 10, 2023), you can get a free, one-year premium membership. The membership provides access to all guides and articles available within the app along with offline GPS guided maps.

Start with one of my recently published articles below or check out thousands of other guides and walking tours in the app.

It only takes a few steps to claim your free, one-year premium membership (an $18.99 value).

  1. Download the GPSMyCity app.
  2. Register for a GPSMyCity user account
  3. Go to the “More” Screen and “Feedback” to send an email with the following claim code: 24390503

Remember, you only have ONE WEEK to claim your premium membership.


How to Visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico

How to Visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico

For those who don’t know, 25 to 50 million monarch butterflies migrate from the USA and Canada to the monarch butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico every year.  This is a far cry from the billions that made the journey until a rare freeze in Mexico obliterated 80% of the population creating piles 13 inches high of dead monarchs on the ground.  Regardless, it is still an amazing phenomenon that could go extinct…not the butterflies, but the migration. So go check it out before it is too late!

The monarchs arrive in the high-altitude Mexico mountains around November 1st and migrate back to the USA and Canada in mid-March.  They concentrate in 12 known areas over three hectares in the biosphere reserve.  Four of these areas are sanctuaries that are open to the public.


Travel Photo Challenge Day 9 – Brazil

I’ve been nominated by some fellow bloggers, Tony and Margie with Back Roads and Other Stories as well as Jyothi with Travel Explore Enjoy, to post one favorite travel picture a day for ten days without explanation, then to nominate someone else to participate.  That’s 10 days, 10 travel pictures, and 10 nominations.  It is my understanding that the idea behind the challenge is to expose audiences to new bloggers and vice versa.  I’m always up for helping fellow bloggers, so I have accepted the challenge. 

That said, my rule following self is going to follow Tony and Margie’s lead and break a handful of them.  First, while a picture paints a 1,000 words, I’m incapable of posting a photo without some explanation.  Sometimes the story makes the image that much more special.  Second, though not specified, I think the intent is to post 10 days in a row.  I’ll be lucky if I post 10 weeks in a row. I also may post more than one photo at times.