From: May 5 to May 13, 2017

Destination: Portugal

  • Portugal: Hiking and Culture - FULL

    Portugal is the oldest nation-state in Europe, ancient in history and rich in maritime culture. We'll enjoy the view from the westernmost point of Europe, and soak in Portugal's diverse landscape by hiking along white sand beaches, through thick forests, and kayaking along the coast. We will explore fascinating historic sites including ancient castles, a lavish palace, two abandoned monasteries, and the sites of two sets of dinosaur tracks. We will immerse ourselves in this unique culture with walking tours in some of Lisbon's oldest and most interesting neighborhoods. Along the way we'll experience Portugal's cuisine and have the opportunity to indulge in some Portuguese wine. Maximum group size: 12

    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required).
  • Friday, May 5
    We will meet at noon at our hotel in Lisbon. After greetings, introducing ourselves, and having a brief orientation to the trip we will set out on a walking tour of the older and more interesting neighborhoods in Lisbon. Starting in the Bairro Alto we will walk down to Baixa-Chiado and visit the heart of the city center where we will stop for lunch before continuing to Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon known for its warren of small winding streets. Next we visit the Castelo de Sao Jorge. This ancient castle has recently been restored to its formal glory. We will return to our hotel in time to clean up and relax before sharing our first dinner together. Tonight we will be staying at the Evolution Hotel in Lisbon. Walking, approx. 3.5 miles

    Saturday, May 6
    After breakfast we head to Sintra, name of both the town and the Natural Park, and our home for the next three nights. It is one of Portugal's best known and most beloved sites, both past and present, as evidenced by the castles and palaces that were built here over the centuries. We will start from the middle of town and wind our way up to the Castelo Dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), one of the oldest buildings here and originally built as a defensive outlook when Portugal was part of the Moorish Empire. From here we walk through gardens that were inspired by the Romantic poets. We will walk through the lovely grounds of Pena Palace to the palace itself, a multihued castle full of both quirks and history. We will tour the castle before descending down the hill to the town of Sintra, where there will be some time to wander through the town on your own before dinner. Tonight and the next two nights we will be staying at the Nova Sintra in Sintra. Walking and hiking, approx 5 miles.

    Sunday, May 7
    We start the day with a ride on an historic tram from Sintra to Praia das Macas, a nearby beach known for its white sand. It would be tempting to stay here but today we are walking along sandy paths and cliff tops to Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca), the westernmost point of Europe, once thought to be the edge of the world. Along the way we descend to Adraga beach, where we can enjoy a bowl of traditional soup; and Ursa Beach, a much wilder and less visited beach with striking rock formations and crashing surf. There are several endemic species of plants here found nowhere else in Portugal. From here we take a 30 minute ride back to Sintra for our second night there. Hiking approx. 7.5 miles.

    Monday, May 8
    Today we hike in the Serra, Sintra's Forest and Natural Park, to Peninha. Along the way we visit the Convent of the Capuchos, no longer an active monastery but open to the public and providing insight into the traditional life of a monastery. The hike through the forest is a lovely contrast to yesterday's beaches, showing yet a different kind of vegetation. Peninha, our destination, is an abandoned monastery with magnificent views of the entire area. We then have a half hour drive back for our final night in Sintra. Hiking approx. 9.5 miles.

    Tuesday, May 9
    We completely change gears today as we head for Arrabida Nature Park on the other side of the Tagus River where we'll spend the next three days. Along the way we'll visit Belem, famous for two things: its historic role as the departing point of the great Navigators, and its current role as home of a unique pastry. A 2-hour drive brings us to Arrabida. Whereas Sintra is known for its fascinating history and amazing buildings, little of its vegetation is endemic. In contrast, this area is almost untouched in its natural equilibrium and is one of the most beautiful and fascinating natural regions of Mediterranean influence. We hike on a path that follows the coastline to Cabo Espichel on the southwestern tip of the Setubal Peninsular. Along the way we will stop to visit dinosaur footprints: The Pedra da Mua track from the Late Jurassic era and the Jazidas de Lagosteiros track from the cretaceous period. These intriguing sets of tracks are separated by 500 meters and 50 million years! From the Cape we transfer to the town of Sesimbra, our home for the next two nights. Although parts of it have become quite built up, it still retains its fishing roots. Our hotel tonight, Casa da Praca Guesthouse, is close to the water in the older part of town. Hiking 3 - 7.5 miles depending on time.

    Wednesday, May 10
    Arrabida's marine ecosystems are also of great national and international importance and are preserved in Maritime Reserve Luiz de Saldanha, created in 1998 to protect a diverse array of species including invertebrates, crustaceans, and many types of fish. This morning we will head towards the fishing Harbor of Sesimbra for a kayaking tour along this spectacular coastline, with incredible rock formations, secret beaches of white sand and crystal clear waters, and caves we can hide in. It feels like paddling in a giant alive aquarium. Having worked up an appetite, lunch today is at a simple but delicious fish restaurant. After some free time to relax on the beach, in late afternoon we will walk up 750 feet to the Moorish castle of Sesimbra. The castle stands high above the village and has guarded it since its early founding. The castle was one of the first conquests of the Christians over the Moors in the 12th century and its strategic positioning was important for the defense of early Portugal. Our climb will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Sesimbra and the surrounding coastline. Kayaking 5 miles, hiking 1.5 miles.

    Thursday, May 11
    Our hike starts with a 1,000 foot climb out of town to the top of a plateau and across the Serra with its deep vegetation. Our destination is a former Franciscan Monastery, set on a hill high above the bay, where we will spend the night. We will tour of the monastery, learning about how the brothers lived there and pondering whether the physical deprivation they subjected themselves to was offset by the beauty of their surroundings. Overnight at the Monastery or Casa da Praca Guesthouse. Hiking approx. 8.7 miles.

    Friday, May 12
    This morning we will hike down to Portinho de Arrabida (the small harbor of Arrabida). If you have ever wanted to give Stand Up Paddleboarding a try, this is your opportunity. The bay makes a great place to learn and our guide is an expert instructor. There are also hiking paths to explore if that is your preference. After a final picnic lunch we return to Lisbon in the afternoon, about an hour away, in time for last minute shopping, wandering, or relaxing before heading out for our final farewell dinner. We will raise a glass of Portuguese wine (or water), toasting memories of the history we have learned, the paths we have trod, the food we have savored, and the laughs we have shared. Paddleboarding and/or hiking based on your preferences. Overnight at the Palacio Vila Flor or similar.

    Saturday, May 13
    You are free to leave anytime this morning. Transfers to the airport will be based on actual departure times.
  • $2695  (Click here for travel discounts) $400 deposit. Single supplement (only required if you want a room to yourself) is $410. You can read our cancellation policies here

    Trip Includes

    • A local guide and an Adventures in Good Company guide
    • 8 nights double occupancy lodging
    • All meals from lunch on the first day through breakfast on the day of departure
    • Airport transfer for those arriving the first day
    • All transportation with Portugal
    • All entrance fees and activities as described in the itinerary

    Not included: Transportation to the Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), alcoholic beverages, gratuities.
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking through a myriad of cinematic landscapes, from white sand beaches and thick forests, to limestone cliffs and rocky outcrops
  • Visiting historic castles, monasteries, and two sets of dinosaur tracks
  • Kayaking in Maritime Reserve Luiz de Saldanha
  • Exploring the culture of the nation's capital with a walking tour of some of Lisbon's oldest and most interesting neighborhoods
  • Experiencing the unique maritime cuisine of Portugal

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