Ancient Mediterranean landscapes
In northeastern Portugal, close to the Spanish border, the Western Iberia rewilding area is a rugged, beautiful and relatively unexplored area where wildlife is making a big comeback.
The Côa Valley Grand Route, a 200 km marked trail crosses the entire Western Iberia. The picturesque route connects the river from the spring to the mouth. This is the perfect opportunity for tourists and nature lovers to visit the Western Iberia rewilding area, enjoy its wildlife and discover the beautiful countryside of Portugal. …
This short break will introduce you the spectacular Portuguese side of the Western Iberia rewilding area. Visitors stay in the charming Casa da Cisterna – a top quality, boutique bed-and-breakfast accommodation located in the historic fortified town of Castelo Rodrigo. During your stay you will visit the Faia Brava private nature reserve with its steep …
What to see
Encompassing the land between the Douro River to the north and the Serra da Malcata in the south, the Côa valley is a spectacular mix of riverine gorges, oak forests, rocky heathlands and former cropland becoming ever wilder. Rewilding Europe is pioneering sustainable travel here, with tours that combine experiencing the area’s burgeoning wildlife and cultural heritage whilst supporting local people and independent nature reserves.
Birdlife in Western Iberia is prolific with around 100 species including a number of birds of prey. The area is home to griffon and Egyptian vultures, golden and Bonelli’s eagles, as well as endangered rarities like black vulture, Spanish imperial eagle and black stork. The humble rabbit is perhaps the most important mammal species, a vital source of prey not only for the birds but also for carnivores such as mongoose, civets, martens, polecats and elusive wild cats. With rabbits relying on larger herbivores to clear large shrubs, roe deer are making a welcomed comeback together with species of wild horse and cattle – the ancient Garranos breed and auroch like Maronesa (the latter as part of the Tauros breeding programme) – graze freely in the Faia Brava Nature Reserve. Quite recently and for the first time Iberian wolves were spotted here and it is hoped the Iberian lynx will soon be reintroduced.
If the incredible wildlife on show wasn’t reason enough to explore this remote corner of Portugal, Western Iberia also has an incredibly rich human heritage. The Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with thousands of animal, human and abstract figures carved into rock faces, some of which date back over 20,000 years. Together they make up the largest open-air collection of prehistory art in Europe. Rustic medieval ‘castelo’ towns scattered across hilltops and the mighty 17th century star fort at Almeida all attest to the region’s historic importance. A strong cultural identity still exists, most deliciously in local culinary traditions, even more so when paired with wines from the renowned Douro Valley.
There are a number of ways to discover Western Iberia, ranging from a relaxing long weekend to tackling the 200 km marked Grande Route trail along the entire Côa Valley by foot on an 11 day tour, or by mountain bike or horse over three days. We can tailor your time based on your interests, with your ideal combination of wildlife and culture, using expert guides and staying in handpicked accommodation. New unique safari style accommodations of the Star Camp in Faia Brava and Miles Away fly camp bring you closer to nature in remote settings.
Airport access: Porto (240 km – 2.5 hrs driving) and Lisbon (357 km – 3.5 hrs driving). Road and other access: The area is connected via a high quality motorway network from the two international airports. Good train links also exist to Guarda and Pocinho (where the train runs through the Douro Valley) which are both 45 minutes from the reserve by road.