The Silver Coast of Portugal just isn’t solely a haven for surfers and sunseekers. When you enterprise just a bit additional inland, you may encounter million-year-old dinosaur footsteps, psychedelic caves and distinctive geological phenomenas within the Nature Park of Serras de Aire and Candeeiros. Right here, on this inexperienced patch between Porto and Lisbon, you may return in time, uncover a REAL Jurassic Park and observe within the Footsteps of the Dinosaurs.
From mighty mountains to birthplace of rivers deep inside a cave system, the Parque Pure das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros has all of it. Add to that the shut neighborhood to Portugal’s Silver Coast with surfer-paradise Nazaré and family-friendly Sao Martinho do Porto, not lower than three World Heritage listed monasteries in shut proximity, and Knights Templar castles dotted across the area, this area is each traveller’s dream.
Solely an hour’s drive from Lisbon you may enter right into a Karst Kingdom, the place water and time has formed the panorama like no place different. After spending a month in area, right here’s our information to one of the best locations within the Nature Park to find a Jurassic World:
175 million years in the past (give or take), a gaggle of dinosaurs crossed some Jurassic mud. The sauropods have been quadruped herbivorous dinosaurs with small heads and lengthy necks and tails. And ft like elephants.
The footprints they left behind have been fossilised and coated by different layers of mud, remodeling into limestone, that’s quarried extensively right here, within the Parque Pure da Serras de Aire e Candeeiros within the Centro area of Portugal
And now, 175 million years later, because the quarry digs into the rock, it uncovers these historical footprints of animals that walked the earth lengthy earlier than we did. Fortunately for us – and for posterity – the quarries have been closed and the tracks protected. Now you can stroll on boardwalks over these websites and have a more in-depth have a look at the prints. Fascinating!!
You may uncover the footprints for your self on the Monumento Pure das Pegadas de Dinossáurios (the place there’s a small entry payment and a museum. Good spot to study extra!), at Pegadas Vale de Meios (free) or out within the open nature (like right here).
Into the Jurrasic caves
As you get all the way down to 125 metres beneath the floor, your information will inform you how the cave continues for at the least 11 kilometres. At that time you’ve solely walked about 600 metres.
The Grutas de Mira de Aire have been found in 1947 and for each expedition (now largely utilizing scuba gear as many of the cave is beneath water) they uncover extra. Their formation goes again 150 million years to the Center Jurassic age, when the dinosaurs populated this area. The caves are lit with colored lights that emphasise the fantastic thing about the shapes of the stalagmites and stalagtites.
In the course of the tour you may admire the unusual limestone shapes, fashioned over hundreds of thousands of years, such because the “Jellyfish”, the “Spaghettis” and the magnificent “Organ”. Mira de Aire’s caves is one among Portugal’s 7 Maravilhas Naturais, or Pure Wonders, and it’s actually wondrous!
One other nice cave, and one of the vital accessible is Grutas da Moeda. This can be a nice outing, particularly for households with youngsters, or should you’re considerably challenged within the strolling division. It’s a extra informative and academic cave go to than Grutas de Mira de Aire, and you’ll actually study quite a bit concerning the geology and pure historical past of the area right here. The guides on the cave do a fantastic job at speaking the enjoyable & details of geology, details about the wildlife within the caves and provide you with a fantastic perception to the topography of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Nature Park.
Grutas da Moeda could also be smaller than different caves within the space, however what it lacks in measurement it makes up in data, enjoyable & friendliness! Positively value a go to for households!
Mountaineering the geological highlights
It’s no secret that we like to hike, and suppose that it’s the easiest way to attach with the singularity of a area and its panorama.
So we’ve chosen 3 nice hikes for you that’ll take you previous a number of the most original geological phenomenas within the nature park. The primary will take you to the delivery of a river, the subsequent takes you into caves and in shut contact with the geographic peciliarities of the karst panorama, and on the final you encounter waterfalls, a pure amfitheatre and a number of the greatest views within the Nationwide Park.
PR1 ACN – Olhos d’Agua de Alviela – 2km
Though this path is sort of brief, it stays one among our favorite trails on this area. The PR1 ACN is a “there-and again” path, however we suggest that you just park your automotive on the riverside and take a stroll across the space earlier than venturing into the canyon and discovering its supply.
The PR1 ACN route of Olhos d´Água do Alviela runs from the supply of the Alviela river to the sinkhole of the Amiais stream. This varieties geological buildings of uncommon magnificence because it crosses the Center Jurassic limestone. Its geological magnificence, surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation, makes this route one of the vital engaging within the area.
The Amiais stream originates from the rain that falls onto and infiltrates the plateau of Santo António and is carried to this place by a fancy community of underground galleries that represent a whole bunch of caves. You may observe the Amiais stream in entrance of the cave Lapa da Canada, earlier than it plunges into the depths of the cave, round 200 meters beneath.
You may’t observe the Amiais the place it flows into the cave, however you may return on the path to see the place the stream reemerges, and creates an imposing river canyon and turns into the Alviela River.
Aother enjoyable reality: The Alviela River used to produce water to Lisbon since 1880 by way of the most important gravity aqueduct in Portugal. 114 kilometers lengthy and having gravity as the one driving pressure. You may take a more in-depth have a look at the aquaduct on the 8 km mountaineering route PR8 ACN that additionally begins the place you parked your automotive.
PR2 BTL – Buraco do Roto Route – 6km
This 6 km round route is likely one of the most lovely hikes in Parque Pure das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros (PNSAC).
It takes you into historical burial caves, by way of a pure tunnel and spherical to Malhadouro valley, the place you’ll climb some pure stairs that may lead you to Pia da Ovelha, a big pure cave, which owes its identify to the sink constructed there beneath a stalactite and which drips abundantly within the wet season, serving as a water gap for the sheep (ovelhas) within the outdated days.
Through roped stairs you resolve the valley, from the place you may watch the climbers on Reguengo do Fetal Climbing space on day.
You’ll then ascend the opposite facet of the valley, as much as the fertile plain earlier than descending Vale da Pena. Right here, you’ll get the possibility to watch the rock formations once more in your means again, earlier than reaching your level of departure in Reguengo do Fetal.
PR4 PMS – Fornea Route – 12km
This 12 km round route is likely one of the most lovely hikes in Parque Pure das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros (PNSAC). If you go away Alcaria and enter into the pure amphitheatre, you’ll quickly begin to discover how all sounds, apart from pure ones, fade away. No marvel this place known as “Fornea” which implies “oven”.
Strolling into the valley you’ll uncover waterfalls (if in season) and caves. The path then doubles again and takes you up on prime of nature’s wild area (look out for fossils in your means!) with superb views of the Nationwide Park earlier than descending again into the valley.
On the path you might even see birds of prey, wild flowers and paleolithic stays (fossil) from the Jurrassic period.
PS: Whereas the route’s identify was once known as “PR6 PMS” it’s now named “PR4 PMS” and you’ll observe the signposts alongside the route. Bear in mind to observe PR4.1 PMS to get into the pure amphitheatre, previous waterfalls and into the caves.