AN AFTERNOON TRIP TO FRAGA DA PENA (WATERFALL)
After our successful visit to Piódão (minus the car drama) we decided to explore some more local attractions. Fraga da Pena (We call it Fraggle Rock) is a local spectacular waterfall over 20 metres in height, not far from where we live and under a 10km drive (16 mins). The short journey took us through Dreia and Benfeita. It is located near the village of Pardieiros, Arganil, in the District of Coimbra. It is in the heart of Mata de Margaraça forest, in the protected area of Serra do Açor. The journey there is through some narrow uneven roads due to the diversions.
I have been meaning to visit this waterfall for some time now. I always pass the brown sign for Fraga da Pena whilst jogging near our village. Recently a car flagged me down whilst I was taking recycling to the bins and asked for directions to the waterfall. I had to laugh as I have no sense of direction and I thought it would be another case of lost in translation but luckily they spoke some English and I managed to direct them towards the right location, I think! with a lot of hand waving and my obligatory Makaton – I don’t know why I do that (ha ha). I am now getting flagged down a lot on my jogs. A lot of the time it’s lost in translation which makes me think I really need to up my game with the Portuguese language. Either that or all Portuguese people are going to have to learn Makaton (ha ha).
We parked our car on the main road and then walked a short distance of 200 metres to reach the waterfall. I love waterfalls, I’m not sure why but I just love listening to the sounds. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces! I have viewed a few waterfalls in my time including a huge waterfall in Thailand and a small one in Wales. Both had a long trek to reach them. What I really liked about this waterfall is the fact that you can park your car and walk less than 200 metres to see the glory. This is great for people with mobility difficulties as these people are usually excluded from seeing such beauty due to the distance, although it’s not suitable for wheelchair users.
OMG it is absolutely stunning! A really lovely place for those who love nature, hiking and great for dog walking. It was so beautiful to just sit and watch the cascade of water with the sound of birds chirping away around us. All the mountains that surround this landscape make it truly unforgettable and romantic. You can take a dip in the natural spring waters if you feel brave. Although the weather is scorching hot, the water is very cold indeed. There were a few beautiful and not so beautiful young semi naked people enjoying the waters. My toes and ankles got naked and took a little dip too. I talked hubby into entering the water too. There are some lovely picnic benches made from wood and stone to rest on if needed and we took a home made picnic which was perfect to enjoy in the centre of such tranquillity. What amazed me the most was there was only about 20 people here including us so social distancing was not a problem and not a face mask in sight. I love Portuguese people, they are so kind and peaceful people. There were no nightmare teenagers taking over and being loud. It really was quite empty and I managed to take many photos without anybody in view shot.
Near Fraga da Pena is Mata da Margaraça, a forest that represents one of the last strongholds of what was once the Portuguese native forest. It was hit by the 2017 forest fires but is slowly recovering to it’s natural beauty. I will have to return for another visit and get lost in the forest. When I say get lost I mean get lost for around 30 mins and discover the nature. We have no sense of direction between us. I don’t want to get lost for 127 hours as I’ve seen that film and I don’t think I could cut my arm off with a blunt pen knife and the only items I have in hubby’s backpack are a dove deodorant roll on (just in case a wild boar attacks me – I can throw it at it’s eyes), a lip sill and an over ripe banana which I don’t think would be of much help (ha ha). Does anyone else always take a banana on a picnic but end up bringing it back home as after eating sandwiches, crisps, a boiled egg and cake you just don’t have room to squeeze in one of your five a day!
There is a great hiking trail from Fraga da Pena to Pardieiros with panoramic views of the mountains along the way. I don’t know why I talked myself into this 2.5km round hike when it was 30 degrees celsius. We already completed a 5km jog this morning around our village. My thighs are now weak as jelly! If you want a bit of privacy go to the left of the waterfall and follow the trail which takes you through the water mills and you will find some more natural pools and a small waterfall. This place is tricky to find and up steep steps but it has a handrail. Continue on and follow the red arrow signs to Pardieiros, you won’t regret it. It might be worth wearing hiking boots as the trail is very rough terrain and there are fallen trees and stones. There are also a few muddy boggy areas and at one point I thought I was going to disappear down a bog hole and Skippy would have to rescue me (ha ha).
I only had trainers on and survived but it’s not good for your ankles as we both nearly twisted our ankles at several points and I’m too fat for hubby to carry me. We were so mesmerised with the views that we were not looking at the floor but kept a sneaky eye out for snakey Joe’s. We didn’t see one person on the trail. It looks like we were the only idiots hiking in this heat. Once you reach Pardieiros go and see the lovely church and listen to the chimes. There is also a cafe and restaurant to stop for a well deserved break. Don’t go back the way you came. Take the road back which is quicker. Make sure you take sunscreen and plenty of water with you as there is no shop to purchase anything at the waterfall area. I didn’t see a toilet either. An ice cream van would have gone down a treat – I could have killed for a 99 ice cream, that’s not a thing here!
I am totally amazed that there are so many beautiful tranquil places to visit so close to our little village where we live. I am super excited to explore more and share my joy. Maybe a river beach next time! Now back to the DIY.
Update August 2020:
I love this place so much I returned with my daughter during her 2 week holiday here.