You will make your way to our hotel in Porto where you will have time to rest. At 4pm you will meet your guide and receive a detailed explanation of the expedition followed by a walking tour of the Centre of Porto declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll end our first night with dinner in a typical Porto restaurant.
After an early breakfast today our adventure really begins with a train ride on the Linha do Douro. (www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/portugal/porto-rio-douro/douro/linha-douro-portugals-best-train-ride) We’ll meet at the Sao Bento train station at 08:15 so we have time to look at the wonderful azulejos which are hand painted tile scenes of historical events on the upper Douro. At 09:10 we’ll board our train with Pocinho as our destination. Upon arriving at the end of the line in Pocinho at 12:41 we will have lunch at Taberna da Julinha and then go to the Prehistoric Rock Art Museum to have a guided tour of this wonderful new museum. (http://www.arte-coa.pt) Rock art is mankind’s oldest graphic memory and the Foz Coa Valley is a Rock Art World Heritage Site. The view from the Museum alone is worth the visit. Tonight we will stay in a lovely B&B (http://www.casavermelha.com) and have dinner in a local family run restaurant.
Today we will have our first paddle on the wonderful Douro River. We’ll get an early start to avoid midday head winds. Today our journey will take us through one of the most beautiful and isolated parts of the river. Along the way we’ll stop a couple of times for a brief swim. Our lunch will be in a restaurant owned by Jose Manuel who is a friend. Jose Manuel raises much of the food he serves and he also makes his own port wine. After lunch and café we will drive to Bairro do Casal (http://www.bairrodocasal.pt) where we’ll spend the night and have dinner nearby.
Today we have another beautiful and relaxing day. After breakfast we paddle down river for about 2 miles to the most famous quinta on the river. (http://www.quintadovesuvio.com) The history of port wine and the Douro River would be very different without the Quinta da Vesúvio. Under a very special authorization we will visit the grounds and the garden and learn more about wine making and the history of the Upper Douro. The Symington family owns this quinta as well as several others in the Upper Douro and here they are producing some of their finest wine. We’ll see the granite vats used for treading grapes for nearly 200 years. All this will be topped off with a tasting. After the tasting we’ll go back to our kayaks to paddle past the Quinta de Vargelas to Sao Xisto (4.6 miles 1.5hr) a hill top village where we will stay the night. We’ll start our stay at Sao Xisto with a BBQ.(http://www.quintasaoxisto.com) Sao Xisto is a new player in the wine trade, producing a new red DOC as well as port and we will again have an opportunity to see firsthand all that is involved. Here we will have a guided tour of the winery and another wine tasting. Sao Xisto is also producing very fine olive oil and we will be able to see how this is produced. More than a hotel, Sao Xisto is a village converted into a museum and is a favorite stop on our trips. Many clients have returned to spend more time here in these very beautiful remote and peaceful surroundings. We’ll have dinner in a restaurant close by.
The paddle today will not be forgotten. the Valeira Cataract was the greatest obstacle to navigation on the Douro River till the first great hydraulic project was carried out between 1780 and 1791. This project was to demolish the falls and they succeeded to make it possible to navigate up the Douro to the border with Spain. This made it possible for an important development of the wine industry and in fact was the reason for the project. This incredible project didn’t eliminate the dangers of the river, it only made it possible to pass, but still with great risk. A point worth mentioning is that the wine casks were only half filled so when a boat hit the rocks the wine casks would float and be saved. The man who made the first detailed map of the Douro, Baron Forrester, drowned in this place 70 years after it was demolished.
All 5 locks on the Douro River are the same size and allow boats up to 272 ft. in length, 37 ft. beam and a draft of 12.5 ft. Today we will pass this (2.8 miles from Sao Xisto 1.5 hr.) Valeira Gorge via a lock that will lower us 108 ft. This is one of the most impressive locks in the world and it’s part of the Valeira Dam which was finished in 1975. In the lock we will be lowered 108 ft. to continue our journey down the river. Going through a lock in a kayak for the first time is an interesting experience and you´ll enjoy it, I’m sure.
After the lock we´ll have a lunch stop at a beautiful site on the left bank of the Douro and continue down river to the small village of Tua. When we arrive we’ll have a bit to eat and go to our hotel where we’ll spend the night at (http://www.casadotua.com).
This is our last day on the river and we’ll again be off to an early start. We’ll paddle to Pinhao where we’ll takeout and have lunch. After lunch we’ll go to the train station where you will see the very fine ceramic tile work and take the train back to Porto or stop off in Peso da Regua and optionally visit the Douro Museum and stay the night in Peso to catch the next morning train to Porto. An Important note: Our itinerary is always subject to change due to the weather or other unforeseen situations requiring changes. Our objective is to spend our six fully enjoyable days on the river and not be stressed by rigid planning.
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