Where else could you find pre-historic engravings, threatened species, ancient traditions still alive and well, and spectacular landscapes that make you doubt you are still in Portugal? Welcome to the Greater Côa Valley.
Why visit the Greater Côa Valley?
Located between the Douro River to the north and the Serra da Malcata in the south, Portugal’s Côa Valley is a spectacular mix of riverine gorges, oak forests, rocky heathlands and former cropland returning to nature. New sustainable travel here combines the finest natural and cultural experiences in the area, supporting local people and new independent nature reserves.
Explore the Greater Côa Valley
The Greater Côa Valley Grand Route
The Côa Valley Grand Route is a 200km linear trail, linear which crosses the Côa Valley from its river spring (at Fóios, Sabugal) to the river mouth (Vila Nova de Foz Côa) where it connects with the Douro river.
The trail is marked in both directions, so that it can be done north-south or south-north. The Grand Route can be done by walking, cycling or riding a horse and there are alternative trails that are exclusive for cyclists and horsemen.
Total length marked– 196 km
Total length – 224 km
Duration – 10 to 15 days on foot; 3 to 6 days cycling
Difficulty level – from hard to very hard; some stages are medium
Height (max/min) – 1164/129 m
Recommended seasons – late spring and early fall
The Grand Route of the Côa Valley is managed by Territórios do Côa, an organization dedicated to promoting the natural, cultural and archaeological heritage of the Greater Côa Valley.
More on the Grand Route
Côa Valley Rock Engravings
As an immense open-air gallery, the Côa Valley features more than a thousand outcrops with rock art, identified in over 80 different sites, predominantly from the Upper Paleolithic, some 25,000 years ago.
The Côa Valley Archaeological Park is located in the northernmost part of Guarda district, in the region known as Alto Douro. In 1998, in the fastest classification process ever, UNESCO included the Prehistoric Rock Art of the Côa Valley in the World Heritage List.
Côa Park Foundation
The Côa Parque – Foundation for the Safeguarding and Development of the Côa Valley, also known as Côa Park Foundation, was created in 2011 to manage the Côa Valley Archaeological Park and the Côa Museum. Its goals are the protection, conservation, research and promotion of the Côa Valley Rock Art and other heritage features in the region.
More about the Côa Rock Engravings
The discovery of a huge auroch engraving in northern Portugal’s Greater Côa Valley provides a historical perspective for contemporary rewilding efforts.
The Faia Brava Reserve
The Faia Brava Reserve is the only private protected area in Portugal. It is bordered by the Côa river and is part of the Archeological Park of the Côa Valley.
The reserve is located in the municipalities of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo and Pinhel, in the Guarda district. The reserve is home to 25 mammal species including wild horses (Garrano) and cattle (Maronesa). It also hosts many birds species, including Griffon and Egyptian vultures, Golden and Bonelli’s eagles, eagle owls and black storks.
Visit the Faia Brava Reserve
The first property acquired by Rewilding Portugal and already open for visitation, in Vilar Maior, Sabugal, where conservation actions are being carried out to reinforce the ecological corridor of the Greater Côa Valley.
This new area of practical application of rewilding in Portugal promises to be the new showcase of the benefits that rewilding has for nature and what results it can achieve on increasingly larger scales. In addition to the rewilding of the landscape and ecosystems, it will also have an important role in nature-based and sustainable tourism.
A herd of Sorraia horses, a native Portuguese breed, is already living in Vale Carapito. This herd of ten animals is living in a semi-wild state, and will play a key role in transforming the landscape through natural grazing. The impact of these animals will be studied to demonstrate the results of the rewilding approach to nature conservation. There are only about 200 horses of this breed left in the world. With the ancestral wild horse extinct, they have a huge importance in biomass consumption and management, creating new mosaics in the vegetation.
Other Tours & Safaris
Spend a weekend at the charming rural Vilar Maior. This beautiful area in Portugal’s Greater Coa Valley is home to roman and medieval history. All of this in the beautiful natural setting of the nearby Vale de Carapito, home to rich wildlife and scenic landscapes. Tour organized by the European Safari Company.
During this luxury safari, you will experience the dynamic mix of culture, cuisine, nature and local people, and it will have you coming back for more. Explore undiscovered regions of Portugal, vast natural areas and new exciting tourism experiences in the Coa Valley. Tour organized by the European Safari Company
Watch skies full of vultures and birds of prey, walk amongst free-roaming herds in Faia Brava. Marvel at the ancient rock engravings, and delight yourself with Portuguese wine and port. This tour is organized by the European Safari Company.
Track wolves, watch birds and visit a UNESCO world heritage site whilst enjoy local cuisine during this five day experience throughout the Côa Valley in Portugal. This tour is organized by the European Safari Company