The road up
Fondest memory: Many of us remember that song by the Beatles, "The Long and Winding Road", well it fits the asscent to the Torre on Serra da Estrela to a tee as they say. If you enjoy driving this type of road, as Zohara and I do, then it is great. Just remember to keep your eyes on the ROAD and not on the views...there are "Kodak Spots" (places to stop and photograph) along the way, not always the best, but then you do have to take into consideration that they were cutting this road out of sheer granite cliffs in places.
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Blue, blue waters
Favorite thing: All along the valleys and ridges of the Serra da Estrela we found small streams of runoff and glacial type lakes with water so BLUE it almost froze your eyes just to look at them. Went down by one of the small runoff streams and put my hand into it for a few moments and had to remove it quickly before it went numb, melted snow is not warm at all ^O^ But hearing the sound of rushing water over the granite stones in the silence of the mountains.....need I say more.
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: Driving up into Serra da Estrela from Covilha you have the central massif of this range spread before you to enjoy. Exposed granite touched with white patches of snow, even in spring, and it looks to go up forever.
As the sign says, "STOP", get out and take a good look around, carry a picnic lunch with you and take a break.
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: Wild camping in Summer
I did it several times as a child, I'm not really sure if it's still allowed now.
All you need is a van and a tent, and to be close to nature :)
You can swim in the lagoons and rivers, have nice walks in the mountain and a closer contact with the locals and with their cute dogs, Cão da Serra da Estrela.
Fondest memory: The Lobo Ibérico, or Canis lupus signatus, the Iberic-Wolf !!!
One of the good things about wild camping
- Water Sports
- Adventure Travel
The River Zezere
Favorite thing: You can see on my photo the river Zezere, it is a wild river with crystalline waters, which is born in the top of Cantaro Magro and run nearby the Inatel, the hotel where I had been. It was nice to sleep hearing the sound of the water.
Favorite thing: Serra da Estrela is a delimited region and it spreads across 2 districts (Guarda and Castelo Branco). In Covilhã you may find a Tourism Office that will not only provide information on this city but also on the Serra da Estrela Region. The office is closed on Sundays and lunch break.
Lagoons and ponds
Favorite thing: As you drive along the mountain, no matter which direction, you will surely come across lagoons and ponds. The water comes from melting snow and rain, but it's constant year-round (not only in defrosting season). Some of these lagoons and ponds are not natural, that is, they were built by men in order to take advantage of that water. The walls of these lagoons and ponds are built with stones from the mountain.
Favorite thing: Although we visited in middle February we were so lucky with weather that we had fantastic days in Serra da Estrela. Sun was always shinning and temperatures ranged from 12ºC to 18ºC during the day. Seems that spring arrived earlier this year and some fields were already bright green and some trees were completely covered in yellow flowers. The almond trees (found in the villages) were already covered in white and pink flowers, providing a spring feel after the grey winter days. Although the mountain is rocky and arid in some places there are these trees covered in yellow flowers that lot wonderful against the blue sky.
Defrosting and waterfalls
Favorite thing: Visiting the mountain when snow is defrosting might also be very beautiful. As snow melts, you will come across beautiful water streams and waterfalls along the slopes of the rocky mountain. This water is pure and fresh and provides nice scenery. As you leave Manteigas, water streams and waterfalls are visible even though it's not defrosting season. This year winter was very mild, therefore there was almost no snow left when we visited and major waterfalls had already "shrink" to tiny waterfalls.
Favorite thing: As I mentioned previously, Serra da Estrela can be quite magical when covered in snow. Snow may usually be found in the mountain during the winter months. Nevertheless there are exceptions, as we visited in middle February and there was almost no snow left, only a few little white spots splattered on the dark rocky mountain, visible from the distance. The opposite might also happen: too much snow and ice and consequently roads will be closed and villages might get isolated during snowstorms. So if you do intend to visit when there is snow be sure to check 2 or 3 days ahead with Tourism Office about snow and road conditions.
The four seasons in Serra da Estrela
Favorite thing: It is amazing to see the metamorphosis that the mountain may suffer along the different seasons and months in the year. It may vary between an arid and hot place on summer months to a magical place with waterfalls during the snow's defrosting. Nevertheless, I find that mountain is at its most when it's snowing, all covered in white.
Favorite thing: The mountain is rocky and along the way you will find loads of interesting rock formations. As with clouds you may play and imagine what object or animal is a rock or stone. The most commonly found are rocks that look like a human head, some of them are even named after that, as the well-known (it is pointed in most guide books) "Cabeça da Velha", which means, old lady's head.
Favorite thing: As you drive along the winding and narrow roads on the mountain you will come across several belvederes or viewpoints. Some of them are identified with name and altitude but most of them are just a "space" by the road where you might park the car and approach the cliffs. The views from these places are gorgeous. The mountain is big, strong, rocky, deserted, … imposing!!!! The air is fresh and pure, … we stopped in loads of viewpoints as we couldn't get tired of the fantastic views.