From Lisbon to Peaks of Europe it’s almost 1000 km by car, a two day’s trip. Come with me and discover the fabulous landscapes, dangerous surroundings, winding and endless roads that challenging even the most experienced drivers. My trip with João to Sames in Asturias, was just like that.
In the Summer of 2019, we hit the road and our first stop to rest was in Montesinhos, Portugal, campsite. Early in the morning, our journey continued towards our destination, Sames, a small rural town in Asturias.
We made countless hours of twisty curves, but that was nothing compared to the experience that we will live.
1. Sames and Cangas de Ónis
We arrived Sames in the middle of the day, we rested, and decided to visit the city of Cangas de Ónis, which is close to the accommodation. The city is a very tourist spot. We also visited the village where we stayed for the night, patched with small and colorful houses. The next day, we went to Covadonga National Park. Beware that the only way to go there is exclusively on the tour buses that seem to fall at any moment into rocky scarps of the mountain, not suitable for those with a fainted heart.
2. Covadonga National Park: Indescribable Landscapes
Despite the difficult journey of a bus that does not appear to fit on a road that is carved into the mountainside, the arrival to destination makes up for every scary moment.
When I look at the mountains for the first time, it is hard to believe that there’s no paradise. Everything looks like it was painted carefully. The splashes of green on the landscape contrasts with the deep blue of the lakes. I stop near a fence and stood there for a while, there was so much to absorb: the smell, the peace and the view itself was overwhelming. We climbed to the highest point of the mountain. Cows and goats passed by, almost without noticing people.
The trail to see the three lakes: Ercina, Enol and Bricial, all from the glacial origin, is 5 km long, crossing through the Palomberu forest. Go to Miradouro of Príncipe where the view is divine and continue towards the Buferrera Mines, an open-air museum.
2. Covadonga Sanctuary: The birthplace of Spain
After visiting the National Park, make sure to stop at the Sanctuary where Covadonga Cathedral is located. The story told that a Visigoth prince took refuge in a cave with some man during Covadonga Battle. This is where some say that Spain was born. They carried with them a Virgin image, which they placed in the cave to ask for protection. The Sanctuary is impressive, and for those who believe, it is a blessed place where you can lit a candle.
3. The Scary Cares Route: An Extreme Challenge
On the third day, we lived what would be my most extreme adventure so far: the Cares Route. Here I wished I had lit a candle in the sanctuary of Covadonga, and you will see why.
We will make 24 km (round trip), an old and dirt path into the mountain, sided by cliffs, without any kind of protection, named Garganta Divina. At the bottom, it flows the Cares River, which gives his name to the place.
Any visitor will walk between the mountain and the steep slopes totally open to the abyss. Believe me, it is really scary, mainly because there are parts on the route that are so narrow, that two people cannot cross at the same time. In these difficult moments, João passes first and give me his hand to help me. Like us, you will cross bridges, viewpoints, tunnels carved in stone and come across dizzying views above deep ravines, surrounded by impressive mountains over 2000 meters high.
The entire journey takes about 7 hours and you can rest and eat in Cain or Poncebos. But believe me, it is not easy to get there. I’ve reached half of the path and I was proud of my accomplishment. When you are in the middle of a mountain with an abyss next to you, overcoming your fears is not easy at all. The goats, positioned on top of the cliffs, seem to be laughing at us. Arriving safe was a blessing and I swore I would never get into another journey like this.
4. Oviedo and Gijon: A Colorful Circuit
Despite being exhausted, the next day, we went to Oviedo, where we passed through the city and we saw its magnificent cathedral. We continue our trip to Gijon, one of the main seaports in Spain, where we wander through the beach wall of San Lourenzo.
5. Ribadesella and Rio Dobra: One day, two Wonders
Here the seawall is beautiful, flanked by the sea on one side and colorful palaces on the other.We went to Santa Marina Beach, considered one of the best beaches in Asturias, and the warm seawater chilled my soul, still agitated by the dangers that we lived before. A huge bridge that we crossed to the city center, gave us the privilege to look at a wonderful landscape, that I still remember.
Back in Sames, we went to see the Dobra River, a difficult path in the middle of nature. However, if you manage to do it, you will find your hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A wonderful waterfall.
6. Leon and Lake Sanabria
The last day has plenty of wonderful places. We went to Leon where we’ve been in a historic village full of funny picturesque alleys. I remember a place full of life, esplanades where the conversations were loud, typical of Spanish people.
We travel to Lake Sanabria, our last destination. It was idyllic. There were boat trips and kayaks, but I preferred, to simply dive into the lake. I recommend this route to those who like extreme challenges and dare to dive in the most profound sacred side of nature.