This dramatic rocky valley is the most beautiful access to the top of the mountain, but...
My first time climbing it was with a Renault 4 - a weak vehicle, that, as we were going up was loosing power. I was distracted from the landscape and seriously worried about the chance or not being able to reach the summit, when I saw my friend J. Fernando, with a powerful car, stopped and stepping the tires.
The way is steeper than it looks and the rarefied air does the rest - as all the people used to travel in high mountains know well - we didn't...yet.
Until yesterday, this artificial lagoon was just a detail, in the way up or down the mountain in search of snow.
For the first time I saw it with snow, and got a different image of it - it is, really, part of the mountain and a nice stop for a brief moments freezing and laughing in the snow.
I don't know where did the name come from, but this place is only a small beautiful waterfall, in a wet and cool place in the mountain, near Manteigas - a brake in the snow games, a chance for a picnic, or just a quick look.
The highest point of the mountain reaches 1991 metres. To round it to the 2000 meters, one 9 meters tower was built in the top, becoming the reference to everyone who visits it. That's also the area where the snow lasts longer.
As everybody goes there, and the road has a dead end, in winter holidays it may become too jammed, and without parking.
To prevent that, the many stalls that along the years where installed to sell the local products were forbidden and moved away.
No! I will not translate the word "sku".
It doesn't exist, but all Portuguese use it. And, in a country where snow is such a rarity that ski is a very restrict sport, what can a common citizen do, in those happy days where snow and sun meet in Estrela?
Sku, of course, and laugh...
Half way from Covilhã to the top (Torre), Penhas da Saude is one of the highest lodging points in the mountain - the other is Penhas Douradas. It has nothing special to see or do, but it is a good place to stay, (almost) in the wild. It's hard to book in high season without a few months in advance.
1993 meters, that is the height of the highest point in the Serra da Estrela mountain range. So in comes the "Torre" or tower. This highest point is less than 2,000 meters high, and as you may (or not) understand, that might be a small thing, those 7 meters, but apparently, from the story that I read, the then King of Portugal declared that there be built a tower (yes the Torre) on top of this 1993 meter spot to a height of 7 meters...
Yes that now makes it a more impressive high spot of 2,000 meters.
Now thats pretty neat being a king isn't it.
That last photo is me with my trusty VT flag.
You will also find there at the highest point a touristy type shop where they sell local crafts and especially the Serra da Estrela Cheese.
You have the old lady's head, couldn't fail the old man's one. The caprices of nature are funny, but the resemblance is real. And those spread rocks are a good pretext to wander around in the mountain, a national natural park.
Easier to see than the old lady, you don't need to leave the road to do it.
Here and there some strange rock formations capture the visitor's attention, becoming clearly identified attractions.
The old woman's head is the most known of them, a little bit out of the road but easy to see if you follow the signs.
heading on up to Torre (10 km further from Penhas) was the most stunning scene - i had to stop in awe and then just snap the beautiful valley to mountain peaks above like crazy!
back in the car the beauty before me just continued right on up to the top - amazing rocks and shapes and colours! right on up to Torre. and then the scene looking back down was just so lovely. and so peaceful!
what a beautiful drive, the glorious morning sun with blue skies certainly made such a stunning package!!
started my trip around the Serra da Estrela heading up from Covilha but up the inclining winding road in the dark - i had phoned the youth hostel to make sure they were open and i was sure he had said he had but when i got there there was a sign saying the hostel from shut from the week before and for 2 more weeks yet! so i went to my second choice and had a lovely night in a hotel, Pensao o Pastor, which has excellent views over the valley i had driven up from the night before.
Most people miss this beautiful place when they visit Serra da Estrela. Go from Manteigas to Torre and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Then, stop in Covão da Ametade, a beautiful place that changes every season in the year.
one of the main cities around serra da estrela. several accomodation offers, and of course restaurants, with the main atraction , wich is their own cuisine and deserts. in and out of the town a lot of spots to stroll and take beautyfull pics...
one of the main cities around serra da estrela. the main one i guess. also a typical mountain city with a lot to offer accomodation wise, restaurant wise and shopping otherwise. those famous fur coats, at an amazing low price, and all kinds of souvenirs.
deservs a visit.
the top of the mountain.
the place where everybody gatters and have a fun time strolling and skying in the snow...
a small shopping centre sells a thousand and one fur coats and an amazing display of cheese and ham, giving the tiny shops an tipical ambience of collor and smell.