In the heart of the Natural Park of Montesinho stands an amazing paradise, Vinhais Biological Park. Here you can find a true Noah’s ark; both domestic and wild animals stroll freely, animals that didn’t have the necessary conditions to survive in their natural habitat. They can be observed along the Park’s three fantastic walking routes, where the natural scenery will dazzle you. Within the park, there are 13 wooden houses and a small area for tents and motorhomes, all in perfect harmony with nature. You can also do Glamping and learn how to live at one with nature.
Travel Tomorrow speaks with Miguel Fernandes, director of the park, who is passionate about this natural place, perfect to escape life’s stresses.
1. Discovering the Vinhais Park
The Vinhais Biological Park covers six acres and was installed by the Municipality of Vinhais in the Prada Forest Vivarium on the Serra da Coroa Forest Perimeter, just 3 km from the center of Vinhais, in the heart of the Montesinho Natural Park. The Park offers an excellent example of Glamping and is definitely worth getting to know, it joins nature with wonderful commodities and creative outdoor activities.
There is a huge range of activities and infrastructures to see within the park. You can visit the Interpretative Center of the Iberian wolf, the Mycological Center where you can meet countless species of mushrooms, or the Interpretative Center for Native Portuguese Breeds, where you will see 55 breeds of Portuguese domestic animals in real size.
Also, Miguel Fernandes, says with pride, “there is a biological pool without any type of chemicals, and in which animals and plants purify the water.” Sustainability seems to be one of the main concerns of the park. One of the major goals is to develop ecotourism, recreation, and leisure for the population, but also to preserve nature and promote biodiversity.
Besides this, the park focuses on the interpretation of the region’s landscape, in natural and cultural components, and also on environmental education. The scenery is wonderful, small wooden houses, pods, of typology t0 and t1, seem to be taken from the Lord of the Rings. They are so charming that it is impossible to resist staying here. They are fully integrated with nature as if you had suddenly travelled to the garden of Eden, and unique because they seem to come out of our imagination.
2. Trails you won’t forget
The Park’s three wonderful trails will delight everyone, and be sure to look out for the enormous diversity of trees, which amazes many visitors. Come with us to discover the trails…
The trails offer you the opportunity to fully enjoy the plentiful nature. The “Visitação” trail is only one kilometer, but along it you can find all kinds of animals, from mirandese cows, donkeys, chickens, deers, wild boars, owls, among many others. These animals came here from the Veterinary Hospital of Vila Real and the Recovery Center of Gaia Biological Park, and cannot be returned to the wild, so the park is their opportunity to live in nature whilst in a controlled environment.
The trail of the Prada dam is a 6 km route that will leave you dazzled and with a profound peace of mind.
The Alto da Ciradelha Trail, although smaller than the previous one, is about 3 km and a half. The stunning observatory en route, located 1000 meters up, is sure to impress with its enchanting panoramic swing.
The shape of the swing might be bizarre, considering it resembles a chorizo, but this is because Vinhais is the Capital of the Fumeiro and has seven different types of sausages with protected geographical denomination. The landscape, I assure, will leave you truly impressed. There are also 140 kilometers of mountain biking routes across 4 different paths with varying degrees of difficulty, so everyone can get involved.
3. Activities: Everything you can enjoy in nature
The Vinhais Biological Park has a huge range of activities for those who visit, which Miguel Fernandes details, “Here you can do everything, from magnificent walks along the trails, bird watching and go to the Equestrian Center where you can ride a horse or a buggy. There is also an adventure park where you can do tree climbing, slide, wall climbing, archery, and paintball.”
He also adds, “there are very interesting activities for children like A Hora da Patinha, where they can feed the animals in the company of the keeper and where they learn, for example, where the eggs come from, because there are children who do not know this.” He also says that “adults have an activity that is similar: to be a keeper for one day, feeding animals and making the necessary management for their well-being. You can also enjoy fantastic guided tours around the park.”
4. What to visit near the Park
Nearby, be sure to visit the Vila of Vinhas, just two and a half kilometers from the Park. There, you can see a permanent exhibition at the Interpretative Center of Bizaro Pig and Fumeiro of Vinhais. Also, be sure to visit the charming village of Moimenta da Beira, bordering Spain, where you can visit the well-known Smuggling Museum.
From the river beaches around, I highlight the Soeira, which has a blue flag and where you can take fantastic baths surrounded by nature. If you’d like to learn more about the crafts of the past visit the Green Park of Arts and Crafts and find out about the making process of bread, wine, and agricultural artefacts. Finally, for those who appreciate sacred art, the village has a museum dedicated to it.
Glamping is undoubtedly a new way of connecting with nature, and in places like this, it seems truly blessed by the Gods.