The positives of staying at a campsite in the Peneda-Geres National Park, without the inconveniences of sleeping in a tent. Such was our recent ‘glamping’ trip to the Lima Escape campsite. Our bungalow provided five nights of relative comfort whilst we enjoyed being surrounded by nature.
The campsite is situated on a peninsula that borders the Lima River and is flanked by the Froufe and Tamente rivers. The site itself is heavily wooded, primarily with tall pine trees, providing a sense of emersion in nature whilst also supplying much appreciated shade during the hot summer days. In addition to plots for tents and campervans, the site also rents five permanent ‘glamour tents’, two houses and five bungalows.
We booked the only split-level bungalow (called T1+1 TOP). It has a bedroom with a balcony on the upper floor. The lower floor consists of a living room with pull-out couch, a small bathroom and a kitchenette. There is also a ground floor, outdoor patio with table and chairs. There is no air-conditioning but an electric fan is provided in the bedroom. The kitchenette includes a sink, a small fridge, a two-burner electric hob and a microwave. The bathroom is tight, located under the spiral staircase that leads to the upper level. The bungalow was somewhat cramped for four of us, but a whole lot more comfortable than a tent would have been.
Bev and I had the upper bedroom and the plan was for Michele and Ethan to share the pull-out couch. But after one night, it was clear that the couch was too narrow for two people to sleep comfortably. For the second night, we set up an air-bed and sleeping bag for Ethan in the bedroom. He couldn’t sleep well on that either! So, for the remaining three nights, he slept between me and Bev on the bed and he finally got some good sleep.
We particularly enjoyed the upper balcony and the ground floor patio. The patio was great for eating meals, or for enjoying a glass of wine. Around dusk, we enjoyed sitting outside watching small bats as they flitted between the trees and around our bungalow. Very cool indeed! We didn’t experience any mosquitoes whilst we were there and I wondered whether the bats were to be thanked for that.
Kayaks can be rented to take advantage of the campsite’s ideal location for water activities, with three-hour rental periods available in the morning and afternoon. We opted for an afternoon rental, between 3.00pm and 6.00pm, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ethan and I shared a double kayak and Michele took out a single. Bev stayed behind to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and do some reading.
Ethan was given some coaching on how to paddle a kayak and we were given some tips on places to go, before we set off. We paddled towards the Tamente River and headed upstream. We passed under an old Roman bridge and found ourselves in an amazing forested area where the overhanging trees shaded us from the hot afternoon sun and dragonflies darted above the surface of the water. Ethan felt like he was in the Amazon rainforest and Michele said it reminded her of Jurassic Park. It was lovely. A low, bouldered dam blocked our passage, but we pulled the kayaks up and over it and continued further upstream until we were blocked again, this time by lots of rocks and shallow water. We pulled the kayaks onto land and left them whilst we walked alongside the river. After a short walk, we came to an area of rocky pools that were perfect for swimming in the cold mountain water. And we were the only ones there!
After our swim, we back-tracked to rejoin our kayaks and paddled back to the Lima River. Time was running out, but we managed to paddle a short distance up the Froufe River, reaching another natural swimming pool – this one full of people. Then it was a quick paddle back to the campsite to return the kayaks. What a wonderful way to spend three hours.
The following day, we headed out in the rental car to visit two more natural swimming holes, a few kilometers away from the campsite, heading up the Serra Amarela mountain. Both of them are fed by waterfalls.
The closest of them was Poço da Carcerelha, located down in the gorge but visible from the roadside. A dirt path leads down from the road and is fairly easy to navigate. The waterfall isn’t very high and cascades down into a small pool, which then overflows into a couple of other shallow pools.
Just a short distance further up the mountain lies Poço Negro, just before a bridge that crosses the gorge. The waterfall is higher here, but it is also harder to reach. A dirt track leads down from the roadside, but stops at a large boulder. To get down to the pool below the waterfall, you have to climb down a steep face of the boulder. It isn’t too difficult, but isn’t suitable for everyone (see photo below).
We enjoyed watching a wonderfully diverse assortment of dragonflies at the pools and Ethan got to practice his climbing skills on some of the smaller rocks. These two beautiful, natural swimming pools with waterfalls are within a kilometer of each other. And there are several other such places within the Peneda-Gerês National Park. Amazing!
Here is a short video clip of Poço Negro
If you venture a bit further up the mountain, you’ll enjoy nice views from the miradouro outside the village of Ermida. And you might get to interact with some of the local livestock.
Our hopes of doing a horseback trek were dashed, as they only operate on weekends and were fully booked. Guess we should have booked in advance!
We had also contemplated doing some hiking in the national park whilst we were there. But the daily temperatures were above 30C (86F), which dented our enthusiasm somewhat. So we compromised and opted to take a fairly short walk from the campsite to the swimming pool on the Tamente River – the one that we had previously reached by kayak. As well as being short, the route included a lot of shade. Whilst we started out on the road, once we had crossed the Roman bridge, we were able to get down to the riverside and walk along shaded dirt and rock paths.
The route was fairly flat, without much elevation change but there were a few rocks along the way that we had to clamber over. Ethan loved it! When we reached the natural swimming pools, I continued alone for a while, to see what was further along the path. But, after about 15 minutes the footpath petered out, so I returned to the pools to enjoy a cold dip and some snacks. I posted our walking track on Wikiloc.
We enjoyed our forays outside the campsite and also spent time reading, playing board games and generally relaxing on the patio. It was a nice getaway that added some variety to Ethan’s summer and was definitely worthwhile.