For 3 days, with my wife, I cycled about 180 km and visited a large part of the largest Portuguese natural park - the “Serra da Estrela” Star Mountains – Natural Park.
We went up and down mountains, crossed valleys, saw lakes and ponds. We visited cities and small village where traditional houses are built with granite and shale stones. As good Portuguese, we don’t forget to try the gastronomic specialties of this region (cheeses, ham, chorizo, etc.) and local wines.
One of the goals for the first day was to visit Poios Brancos, a granite formation that is at an altitude of 1680 meters. For that reason and because our starting point was the small village of Teixoso, just 570 meters above sea level, we knew that we were going to have a long journey.
We started by climbing a small mountain, the highest point of which was 900 meters above sea level, where it’s possible to see a large area of the Natural Park. In fact, it is a wonderful sight.
We continued to cycle, we passed a small village that lives exclusively from agriculture and wood, called Verdelhos. We made our first stop day, saw the houses made with the local stone and took the opportunity to take a beer and talk a little with locals.
Very hospitable people told us little stories and showed us the best way to get to one of the places we wanted to visit, Poço do Inferno (Hell’s Well).
Poço do Inferno (Hell’s Well) is a wonderful waterfall inserted in the middle of centenary trees that have different colors crowns and where millions of birds live, which occupy the day singing. It’s a magical, heavenly place, where you can find peace, tranquility and serenity.
When I dived into the cold waters of the well I asked myself why this place is called hell. This place doesn’t deserve this name. Gods well, angels well or for example mermaids well would be more appropriate.
To visit this place, you can go by car, on foot, or by bicycle, but if you want to enjoy 100% of this area I recommend to go there on foot (nice hiking place) or by bicycle. It can be tiring, but I’m sure you will not regret it.
The day was hot, around 27º, we had already climbed two mountains, it was good that we had the opportunity to refresh our bodies in these waters.
In addition to feeling good after this stop, it was very important for the second part of this day, the climb to Pois Brancos.
From this place, we had a dirt road ahead, about 12 kilometers. We were about 1,000 meters high and we had to climb up to 1,680 meters.
The first part had very steep climbs, the floor excavated by the rain and snow from last winter wasn’t in the best conditions. Sometimes the tires slipped on the ground and the bicycles were in holes. We needed to be with maximum attention and the effort was also a lot.
Gradually, there were no trees in our path and the landscape started to be more arid. We stopped having shade and started cycling under an intense sun. At a certain point the big climbs ended, started to be less steep and we started cycling on the top of the mountain.
We rided through green, white, yellow and purple flowers. We went through large rock formations (granite) that make natural miradouros, one of which is the highest altitude, is known as Poios Brancos. Here, we reached our second goal of the day.
We stopped the bikes and climbed that rock on foot. From the top we saw all the huge mountains around us, with their valleys at the bottom. The special highlight is the central part of Serra da Estrela (Star Mountain), it was now in front of us.
From here the Cântaro Gordo, Cântaro Magro and Cântaro Raso, Candeeira and Zêzere Valley are seen from an absolutely fantastic angle.
Lost on the horizon, from here we can also see small villages and towns, we had Portugal under our feet.
Here it looks like we're flying over that whole area in a small plane.
We felt very small, everything is huge and magnificent!