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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

Beautiful Portugal

Climbing in Portugal, not for wimps #DeepWaterSoloing
Kayaking with Caribbean flair in Portugal's nature reserves
Hiking in southern Portugal along the Rota Vicentina, one of the most beautiful coastal hiking trails in the world
Surfing the countless bays around Sagres, in the very south of Portugal, without crowded lineup

After our visit in Germany end of April we already had our sights set on our next project - Portugal. We planned to explore and surf the wild Atlantic coast for around 6 weeks. We drove the approx. 2,500 km from Chiavenna to the southern tip of Portugal quite quickly in 5 days - as fast as possible with an expedition vehicle that feels comfortable off-road. And of course we didn't want to sit in the car all day. For our stops we either found a campsite or a Park4Night. A highlight was definitely this place in southern Spain with access to the lake on both sides. Our off-road training with Hugo also paid off here. At least now we know what our car is able to.

Michael und Marion Marquardt mmq Photography Park4Night Sevilla Spanien Spain Andalusia
Park4Night Banos de la Encina in Andalusia

The first few weeks we spend at the Algarve, south of Lisbon. The weather is great, with lots of sun and about 25 degrees. Very pleasant, that's all I can say. Apart from the wind, which is really extreme, especially on the first few days. I knew it would be windy. And I don't like wind at all... On the first day I buy myself a pair of sunglasses with wind protection.


Sagres is also said to be excellent for climbing. There is little concrete information on climbing routes on the internet, but finally we find the coordinates for a wall with routes starting from 6a. Not an easy start. Normally we only manage such routes with top rope. What does it look like in the lead? Standing right in front of the wall we lose our courage. The wall is completely in the shade and slippery due to the weather, the cold wind howling around your ears. The distances between the safety hooks don't make it any better either. Not good psychological conditions. In the local bar "Dromedario" there is said to be more information about climbing in the area, but we quickly realize that the walls in permanent overhang is probably a size too big for beginners in sport climbing. Climbing grades are too high, most routes are designed for trad climbers and there are plenty of DWS (Deep Water Solo) routes. Editor's note for non-climbers: The route is on the rocks above the sea and instead of a rope as a backup, there's the water - it would be really cool if it weren't for the waves rushing against the rocks :-)


That's why we're heading to Roncha de Pena - one of the largest climbing areas in Portugal. There are also routes starting from 4c. The area is some kilometers away from the coast and also popular with hikers. We stay there for 2 days and really enjoy it. We find a beautiful place with a view to stay overnight. This is where our all-terrain vehicle pays off again.



Now we are drawn back to the coast - this time a little further to the east. We are heading for the Natural Park Ria Formosa, close to Faro. The lagoon is a system of offshore islands connected to the sea by six bays. In the nature park itself there are beautiful hiking trails from which you have a wonderful view and can watch birds at the same time.

The next day we rent a kayak early in the morning and paddle to the offshore islands. As they consist of sand, they are constantly changing shape and the tide makes them sometimes easier, sometimes harder to reach. We enjoy the calm of the early season and the relatively peaceful sea of the southern Algarve. On the way west we do a stop at the Ponta de Piedade near Lagos - a spectacular rock formation on the coast with bays, caves and grottos.

Nature park Ria Formosa Faro Michael und Marion Marquardt mmq Photography Portugal Algarve
Natural Park Ria Formosa, close to Faro


Michael und Marion Marquardt mmq Photography Felsformation Ponta de Piedade bei Lagos Portugal Algarve
Spectacular rocks of Ponta de Piedade, close to Lagos

We also heard about the Rota Vicentina. The so-called Fishermen's Trail leads in 13 stages along the Algarve coast over cliffs and bays and is said to be one of the most beautiful coastal hiking trails in the world. Now the trailrunning shoes in our luggage finally pay off. We tackle the stage from Salema to Sagres, about 18 km, and are totally blown away. The Portuguese coast is incredibly wild and green, a dream. We are so excited that we are planning to hike two more stages on the west coast. Get yourself a picture of it.


Rota Vicentina Salema to Sagres Fishermans Trail Michael Marion Marquardt mmq Photography Portugal Algarve
Rota Vicentina, stage Salema to Sagres

Rota Vicentina Salema to Sagres Fishermans Trail Michael Marion Marquardt mmq Photography Portugal Algarve



Of course, after a few years of abstinence, we tried our hand at surfing again - our initial incentive to come to Portugal. The coasts here are indeed a surfer's dream. However, not every beach is suitable for beginners... on our first attempt at Praia do Telheiro we took everything with us that demolishes the morale of newbies. We were swept onto reefs by a strong undercurrent, went twice through a long washing machine* and then surfed out completely exhausted on a wave over the reef. Luckily for us, we only had minor abrasions. It could have turned out very differently.


*Incorrect timing when paddling onto the wave or missing a dive will result in the wave breaking over you and dragging you back and forth through the water. During this time you lose all feeling for up and down and just hope that your board doesn't hit your head, strangle yourself with the leash or hit rocks, before you are spat out sooner or later depending on the power and size of the wave .


We will stay tuned and report in detail on our progress in the next blogs. A surfboard and wetsuits are already part of our equipment :-)

Praia da Murração Portugal Algarve Surfen Surfing mmq Photography Michael Marion Marquardt
Praia da Murração

Praia da Murração Portugal Algarve Surfen Surfing mmq Photography Michael Marion Marquardt

Praia da Murração Portugal Algarve Surfen Surfing mmq Photography Michael Marion Marquardt


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