ROTA DO JAVALI HIKING TRAIL (MANTEIGAS, SERRA DA ESTRELA PR2 MTG)
We are very blessed to live so close to the Serra da Estrela Natural Park with it’s magical mountains. It really is a fantastic area for hiking and there are so many trails to choose from. It only takes 1 hr by car for us to reach the top of the Torre but Manteigas is 1 hr 30 mins and although it is only 65 km it takes so long as the mountain roads are very winding and you need to drive slow otherwise you will risk the possibility of driving off the edge of the mountain (ha ha). The zig zag roads always make me feel very nauseous but it’s so worth it. We didn’t make a pit stop at the Bread Museum in Seia to buy the epic chocolate bread this time as I’m trying my best to eat healthy so I can overindulge to my heart’s content at Christmas. Bring on the Portuguese King Cake, just wheel it in on a wheelbarrow (ha ha).
Landscapes of the Soul
The PR2 MTG Path of the Boar Route is an 11.4 km circular trail which starts and ends in Manteigas, Serra da Estrela. Manteigas translates to “Butters” which we find funny. I am not sure about butter but the Serra da Estrela cheese made with the Bordaleira breed sheep milk is simply divine yet very smelly. During the course, the most striking elements of the humanized landscape apart from the Poço do Inferno are the Casa de Guarda Florestal (Forest Guard House), the Casa dos Serviços Florestais (Services Forest House) and the Horto Florestal (Forest Nursery). The trail is rated as moderate and I would agree as there are many steep inclines with some trickier areas to negotiate which I found demanding even though I have a good level of fitness for my age as I run most days. We parked next to the “Centro Energia Viva de Montanha” and climbed the steep cobbled road to the start of the trail which gave the most picturesque panoramic views over Manteigas. I recommend you take the trail in the clockwise direction and not counter clockwise. I like to be brutally honest and share a real experience so I would say that the first third of the trail is not that impressive and pretty non eventful.
The trail starts by following a dirt track up an incline which becomes steep in areas. It seems to go on forever and I got a little demoralised as I was too hot in my hoodie and there wasn’t anything exciting to view. Eventually you enter through a forest area bursting full of oak, chestnut and pine trees. There were so many chestnuts on the ground, it’s a foragers delight. The tall trees that stretch high up into the bright blue sky are very dramatic and the scenery was pure heaven. You will see throughout this blog post that I took so many photos of my hubby from behind. Not because he has the “Rear of the year” (ha ha) but because the trail was so very pretty and I really LOVE trees and they look so incredible when the sun shines through the branches and treetops as it casts light and shadows which are dazzling and remarkable. Shortly after the forest area you enter onto a flat main tarmac road which leads onto Poço do Inferno and to the top of the Leandres stream. We took a rest here for a drink and snack on the pretty stone picnic tables and benches.
Along the route you will discover beautiful breathtaking autumnal landscapes, chestnut, fir, ash, alder, birch, oak and willow trees. We stumbled across a few old abandoned houses including the Carvalhais forest guard house and a support house to the forest services nursery as well as a couple of typical abandoned mountain houses. The pathways underfoot were hidden by a brilliant brown blanket of crunchy leaves. There was plenty of mushroom art to admire much to my delight. The fall foliage was picture perfect and the leaves were all dry so I couldn’t resist throwing a huge bundle of autumnal glory high into the sky and watching attentively whilst the leaves floated to the floor. We saw many species of fauna and flora including wild rabbits but we didn’t encounter any wild boar or fox. I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to capture the cute bunnies, they are faster than Usain Bolt (ha ha). Due to all the water courses the habitat consists of amphibians such as the Iberian frog and green frog. Also reptiles such as the collared water snake and water lizard. I was hoping to see some hedgehog but I think they are now hibernating. I don’t blame them as it’s so high altitude and often a bit chilly up the mystical mountains. I fell down a rabbit hole at one point so now my new nickname must be Alice in Wonderland which is far better than The sausage lady of Vinhó (ha ha).
Marvelous Mushroom Art
How fabulous and such a terrific texture.
Poço do Inferno Dec 2021
It was so awesome to see the waterfall flowing fiercely down the cliff’s edge. The steps and little bridge were both very slippery underfoot so be careful when accessing the waterfall. I visited Poço do Inferno back in the summer of 2020 with hubby and my daughter. We were very disappointed as the water had all dried up in August so it was not a spectacular sight and a bit of a disappointment. This day was a total contrast and during Winter time Hell’s Mouth certainly lives up to its name. Near the waterfall I saw a sign for canyoning. I’m not sure my body would withhold such an energetic activity but maybe I will give it a go one day, never say never, be open to opportunities and new challenges.
Poço do Inferno Aug 2020
As a comparison here are a few photos from Aug 2020. There was no water cascading down the rocks at all, not a single drop! Just some water at the very bottom. What a difference a season makes!
Granitos e Corneanas (Granites & Hornfels)
We took some time to admire the huge granite rocks next to the epic waterfall.
Should I risk it?
Near Death by Boulder
After the waterfall experience you have the choice to add on the PR2.1 or continue on the PR2. The PR2.1 is a separate short hike just over 2 km but we decided against it due to timings. We like to get back to the car by 17:00 at this time of year before it gets dark. The climb after the waterfall is very steep and strenuous and I found it challenging indeed. It’s a rocky mountainside and a steep incline with fallen trees and unstable rocks so you need to climb like a mountain goat on all fours, cling onto rocks and pray like a nun. The pathways then becomes very narrow so you need to have good balance to stay on track. I went ahead of hubby and I accidentally dislodged a huge rock bigger than a bowling ball which rolled down the mountain at high speed and nearly took hubby out, I could have killed him! I am so glad he has quick reflexes and can understand me shouting “SHITTTTTT BOULDER” at the top of my lungs (ha ha). Jokes aside, one day one of us is definitely going to twist an ankle or break a bone, I can see it happening, we are too accident prone to get away with it. I’m dreading the day and trying my best to be super vigilant and careful. Please pray for us and our limbs (ha ha).
On Top of the World
Once we reached the top of the mountainside there was another hill so we continued right to the top where we were met by the most amazing panoramic views of craggy monoliths from the mountainside. I just stood here in awe admiring the views and ambiance then ran around singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” much to hubby’s delight. I do this often so he is used to it by now. WOW, such pure natural beauty and I love the huge granite boulders, they make you feel like a matchstick man/woman. I just LOVE places that make you realise how tiny you and your problems are.
Wondrous Winter Hiking in the Mountains
Although Serra da Estrela is not far from our home the weather is usually a few degrees lower than other areas in Central Portugal due to the high altitude. It is the highest mountain in mainland Portugal and the only place you may see snow! This trail has been on my wish list for ages but I kept putting it off as I thought it would be too cold, foggy, icy and far too dangerous to hike. The GNR closed the roads in the area last week due to adverse weather conditions. The weather has been so mild for December and we had a week of rain followed by a few days of dry weather so I decided to check the weather forecast. The weather looked splendid for Sunday (Sunny and 12c) and although we usually complete a 7 km hill run on Sundays I decided to swap our usual hill run for a 11 km hike around the mountains. Spring is always portrayed as the best time to hike and see waterfalls but I think Winter is equally as beautiful and fun as long as there is no frost.
This hike was the first hike this year that I have worn a thin hoodie and I was a bit hot under the collar! Unfortunately I forgot to wear a top underneath so couldn’t strip off and hike in my sports bra as I might get arrested for indecent exposure (ha ha). I actually had my North Face coat in my backpack along with a woolly hat and gloves as I like to be prepared for rapid changes in weather. I didn’t need any of it but better to be safe than sorry and I read that a lady got lost recently in the Serra da Estrela and was stranded for 2 days! She somehow got separated from her hubby and god only knows how frightened she must have been. She was rescued but I bet she is traumatised. I then thought hubby may have read that story and he might be getting ideas of getting rid of me for a couple of days. I will pop off behind a giant boulder to take a wild pee pee and when I return he will have vanished into thin air (ha ha).
Perfect Picnic Perching on a Boulder – Dream come true
Whenever we drive past a gigantic boulder in the Serra da Estrela I always say to hubby that I want to trek to it and climb to the top and just sit there for a while. It’s kind of a mini bucket list dream for me but the opportunity has never arisen as from the car these boulders look close but some are far away and through difficult terrain. Today was a good day as during our hike we entered an area of the mountain covered with gigantic boulders and rocks. The area is astonishing and the boulders almost look fake. I excitedly spotted some semi accessible boulders and I had to fulfill my dream. Not only did we get to climb on top of a huge boulder but we sat and enjoyed a yummy picnic there which was surreal. I sat there like a queen on her throne at the top of the world. Just the two of us in the middle of a deserted mountainside.
As you probably know by now I never ever edit or photoshop my photos. I was very surprised at how different these photos compare. Photo 1 and 2 were taken by hubby seconds apart and it’s the same location. Lighting plays a big part in photography and the difference of the sun going down behind the mountains made a dramatic difference between the 2 photos. I love the grey tones in the first picture and I also love the second picture with the dramatic sky. First one is a bit blurry as hubby is shit at taking photos, he is no David Bailey but he tries his best (ha ha).
The Prickly Ass Plants
The boulder journey did not come without difficulty. No pain, no gain. I got severely pricked on my legs, up my fanny and ass (ha ha). I don’t know what this plant is but it’s spikey as hell!
Free as a Bird
Wild Boar – Run for your Life
Thankfully we never stumbled upon any wild boar (Which is the title of the trail). We were relieved as I’m not sure what the correct protocol and survival mode is for wild boar.(A) Run for your life in a zigzag pattern to confuse it and just in case it has a gun. (B) Climb a tall tree and pray like a nun or (C) Poke it in the eyes with a stick or up the ass with my pinky finger, which will then become a stinky finger (ha ha). Hubby and I have had many hiking conversations about how Portugal is very safe to hike and swim as we don’t have bears or crocodiles. I’m not sure why we don’t have bears, hubby tried to explain it to me but I phased out after 5 minutes, my peri menopausal brain just couldn’t cope with the content. It wasn’t the most interesting of conversations. I prefer the chats where we discuss how we would murder each other or what would Helen do if Adrian fell off the side of the mountain with the car keys in his pocket. There is no worry of any deep political conversations between us, we talk the most stupid nonsense but we have so much fun doing so (ha ha).
Traditional Tree Hugging
If you know me, you know I always hug a tree on a hike. Today was no different, I’m still working on hubby, I know it’s taking longer than I anticipated but I’m trying my best (ha ha).
On the descent back down towards Manteigas we found this amazing rock art. It’s a huge rock that kind of looks like a bunny or maybe a fish. How it got there is a mystery but it was fascinating.
Viveiro das Moitas
What a beautiful Forest Nursery. From here there was still a couple of km of journey heading downwards back towards Manteigas.
I was more than delighted to see the spectacular views of Manteigas in the near distance peeping through the trees as I was overdue a caffeine coffee break and my legs were weary but I was full of joy. I lagged behind a bit so here are many “Rear of the year” shots of hubby (ha ha). I don’t let him take many photos of me from behind as I’m paranoid about the size of my ass. A yoga teacher commented on how hubby always carries his bag on one shoulder and that he may get back ache by doing so. This is quite funny as hubby is fit as a fiddle for a grandad and it’s actually me who has the back disability and chronic back pain from failed spinal surgery to remove my coccyx and I always wear my backpack on my back with both arms fully through the straps. We found a huge fallen tree and I challenged hubby to limbo under it and he failed the challenge big time (ha ha). There were tons more crunchy leaves to play with en route which was so much fun.
This trail was absolutely beautiful and a perfect winter hike through the cliffs and valleys in mid December. We started at 12:15pm and returned to the car at 17:15 so it took 5 hours but we stopped for a break and a picnic lunch as well as photo opportunities. I was a bit worried that in December it might be a bit frosty and slippery so high up in altitude but it was a beautiful crisp day with the Portuguese sunshine peeking strong through the fluffy clouds in the bright blue sky. Another spectacular hiking trip with my soulmate. Memories are the one thing that you can cherish in these difficult times. Who needs a treadmill when you have the mountains, not me! I am already planning a return trip before Christmas and this time I am definitely stopping at the bread museum for the famous chocolate bread as a pre Christmas treat. Never stop exploring adventures that fill your soul.