Kayaking and Hiking the Douro Valley

Destination: Portugal

| Activities: Kayaking, Hiking, Culture

The Douro River Valley is surrounded by natural preserved areas on either side of the river that form Europe’s largest protected area. The Douro Valley stretches across 62 miles and is the only natural border between Spain and Portugal. We will paddle among unique landscapes, where deep granitic valleys with craggy slopes have been slowly excavated by the Douro and Águeda rivers since the beginning of time. The granite cliffs reach 650 feet high in places! We will also enjoy hiking the Douro Valley and visit historical villages that have been occupied since Prehistory. We will be able to watch the near extinct Black Storks, Griffon Vulture, and other cliff dwelling birds as we paddle through the valley, which is a Special Protection Area for Birds recognized by the European Union. The vineyards are terraced along the valley as they have been for centuries and one reason the region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. Its unique microclimate also produces olives, citrus fruits and almonds.


  • Kayaking and Hiking in the Douro River Valley, the natural border between Spain & Portugal
  • Gazing at the towering cliffs and the beauty of the river
  • Watching the cliff dwelling birds as we paddle down the river
  • Hiking along the cliffs above the river seeing traces of ancient civilizations
  • Visiting with a local artisan, sampling local wine and food

Departures and Prices

October 05 to October 14, 2021
$3650.00 - Available
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  • A professionally certified local kayaking guide and an AGC guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip, there will not be an AGC guide)
  • 9 nights double occupancy lodging
  • All meals from dinner on the first day through breakfast on the day of departure
  • Double kayaks, limited # of singles, PFDs, paddles and spray skirts

Not included: Airfare to and from the Porto International Airport (OPO), transfers to the trip hotel at the beginning of the trip, trip insurance, alcoholic beverages and gratuities.

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is designed for women in good condition who want to combine river kayaking with exploring the history and culture of Portugal. Some of our kayaking days are longer than others. We paddle downstream on smooth river. On days when we are not paddling, we will be hiking and exploring the local area. Both single and double kayaks are available - please indicate your preference when you sign up. If you have limited experience or do not kayak regularly, please choose a double.

We will paddle amongst unique landscapes, where deep granitic valleys with craggy slopes have been slowly excavated by the Douro and Águeda rivers since the beginning of times. Such slopes, which at some points reach more than 650 feet high, feature sumptuous gorges, with the deep down river flow-ing smoothly, featuring one of the most beautiful images you’ll ever see! We will also enjoy hiking the Douro Valley and visit historical villages that have been occupied since the Prehistory. We reserve you the best of local accommodation and gastronomy, especially gorgeous meat, which also make this trip so singular

We'll spend the first night and the last night in Porto, Portugal. The other nights we will be stay in small locally owned lodges in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms. The rooms will be simple and our hosts delightful.

There are 2 single supplements available for an extra cost on the first and last day of the trip in Porto.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our trip starts today in Porto. Arrive any time before 5 p.m. We will meet at 5:30 p.m. We'll start getting to know each other and review our plans for the trip, before sharing our first dinner. The evening is free for you to get to bed early or wander around Porto. (D)
We will cross Portugal from West to East to reach the North of the International Douro Natural Park, one of the greatest protected area in Europe with its 476,000 acres. After a lunch break and check-in into our wonderful country houses, we will hike towards the chapel of São João das Arribas, where the majestic view of the Douro Gorge and what awaits us.

Hiking: 5 mile, 400-foot elevation gain and loss. Drive Time: 2 hours 45 min. Overnight: Cimo da Quinta Tourist Lodge (B, L, D)
We will start the day with a visit to the historic village of Mirando do Douro. This ancient city was once a Roman and Arab settlement. It is known for its colorful folklore and stick dance performed to bagpipes. It also has its own language! After our visit to town we will soon be at the river paddling between the deep granite gorges. The sumptuous colors that will leave us breathless. We will find that within a theater of water and rocks, the effects of light are unforgettable.

Kayak: 10 miles. Drive Time: 20 minutes. Overnight: Cimo da Quinta Tourist Lodge (B, L, D)
We will start the day at Picote Dam, the dam is 328-feet tall and 456-feet long. It is considered one of the 7 wonders of the Tras-os-Montes region. We will paddle though the valley, but it looks more like a canyon with its dramatic cliffs rising on either side of us. We will hopefully see some of the majestic raptors who make their home in the cliffs. We will sleep in a former schoolhouse that has been updated.

Kayak: 12 miles. Drive Time: 40 minutes. Overnight: Casa das Arribas (B, L, D)
On this portion of the trip we will continue to paddle through awe-inspiring cliffs and shale walls. The colors are breathtaking and an inspiration to artists. We will see many species of birds including, griffon vultures and rock swallows. We will picnic on the Spanish side of the river. Along the way the scenery becomes lusher and richer with fragrant Mediterranean vegetation. We will sleep in the rural house of a sculptor where we will be able to admire the works of art.

Kayak: 15 miles. Drive Time: 35 minutes. Overnight: Casa das Quintas (B, L, D)
Today, we’ll be hiking. With the sculptor house as our base we will hike from there to Mogadouro. The city is rich in history it has been inhabited since the Middle Stone Age. We will visit what remains from the past. It has influence from all the people that passed through, including the Romans, Celts, and Moors. We will hike the slopes from Bruçó to Vilarinho, seeing traces of occupation from the II B.C. We will also taste the local wine and visit an olive grove. If you are feeling like relaxing and taking the day off - today is the day to do it.

Hiking: 6.3 miles, about 1,000-feet elevation gain and loss. Overnight: Casa da Quintas (B, L, D)
Back in our kayaks today! The valley widens, the terraces occupy the slopes: orange groves, vineyards handcrafted for centuries and hardly accessible. We will picnic under the weeping willows and make a small detour to see the Paleolithic rock art some of which were created 22,000 years ago. Towards the end of day, the water in the Douro becomes quiet and like a mirror. We will finish our kayaking in its gentle embrace. We will end our visit to this magnificent region with a visit to a near the historic village of Freixo Espada a Cinta.

Kayaking: 11 miles. Drive time: 40 minutes. Overnight: Quinta do Salgueiro (B, L, D)
Devil's Path - Hiking day - After admiring the dance of the vultures from the cliffs of Penedo Durão, we will hike the Devil´s Path, named after a legend. The area hides traces of human occupation from the Paleolithic era. We will hike on a trail built by the Romans.

Hiking: 5 miles, 1,010-foot elevation gain and loss. Overnight: Quinta do Salgueiro (B, L, D)
We will head to Porto after breakfast and visit the city in the afternoon, enjoy the river side at the medieval Ribeira district and taste some Port Wine before enjoying our farewell dinner. Porto is a coastal city in known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes.

Drive Time: 3 hours Overnight: Porto  (B, L, D)
DAY 10
You are free to leave anytime today. (B)

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  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be at the lodging where you are staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.