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Thread: Guadiana river, Portugal

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    Default Guadiana river, Portugal

    My Dad got me a holiday in Portugal for my 40th birthday this year. Not your usual sun and sea package. So flew into Faro with two other couples and set off along the coast to the Spanish border then about 25 miles inland to a villa near a town called Alcoutim on the banks of the Guadiana river which forms the border between Spain and Portugal in the South.

    This is a very sparsely populated area and is mostly unimproved grazing and Semi-wild olive and orange plantations.

    First view from the veranda did not disappoint:



    Got settled in and stated with some local cuisine.



    Next morning, got up to a little bit of a fog, not entirely surprising because there had been some brief but pretty spectacular thunder storms the previous evening. Now one of the main features of this villa, apart from it being "off grid" so using solar batteries for lighting and gas for cooking/water, is it comes with it's own landing and the use of a small sailing dinghy called "Loon", a ranger 16 and two sea kayaks.



    The Guadiana is quite an unusual river, as you can see, even 25 miles inland it is very deep and wide and is navigable to really quite large watercraft. Oddly it is also still very tidal at this point with a flood tide capable of reversing the current. I got myself tied in knots trying to find out tide times only to be told by the owner that it is almost exactly in synch with Plymouth.

    So being in the last hour of the flood, I decided to head upstream. It looks cold here but it's just an early morning fog, temperature is in the mid 20s. Looking upstream here, Spain on the right, Portugal on the left. This became quite confusing because you not only cross an international border but also a time-zone and my GPS clock kept flicking from one to the other depending on which side of the river I was nearest.



    Looking back up to the villa from just off the pontoon.





    Nextdoor neighbours, effectively had a campsite at the river side for storage with a solar electric system and water but live on board ship.



    The whole area is absolutely alive with wildlife. The banks are like a jungle with bamboo thickets and then olive and wattle with occasional eucalypts further inland. There were fish rising all over the place, Shad, perch and some types of Bass and catfish. Bird soundscape was rich and varied.



    Approaching the Spanish town of Puerto de la Laja.



    It had ancient stone docks as a frontage. I presume something to do with the nearby quarry workings.



    I'd been paddling upstream with the tidal current behind me up to this point but now appear to have reached the slack water point with rafts of bamboo floating about the place.





    Further upstream still and I can feel the current starting to re-establish itself making going harder, just as I seem to have arrived at some sort of pirate hideout?



    This is actually at the mouth of the Vascao river which I wanted to find and check up because there is reputed to be a superb, deep water swimming pool not far along it.







    "Hannahs Pool" is just round the corner from here and it all looks easily navigable in the small dinghy if we go up later as a group.



    Then back downstream, the tide and current is really starting to bite now and I'm heading downstream at a good lick, sitting at 5kmh without even paddling according to my GPS.





    It's around here I also spotted some really unusual looking bright yellow and black birds on the bank which I have since found out to be golden orieoles. Couldn't get a picky of them though, they were too busy to sit still for long.

    Mini me?



    The pontoon is intelligently placed and sits in an eddy regardless of which way round the current flows.



    Back at the ranch, we had out very own cactus garden.



    And the sun did get out towards lunchtime, by which time it was getting pretty hot!







    Jumped back on in the evening for a play about at slack water because it just looked so inviting.





    And cunningly left a cold can of Sagres on the dock to enjoy as it went dark.





    So, overall, quite a nice first day of my holiday! I've got more pictures from the rest but haven't got them online yet.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Lochwinnoch, Scotland
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    Going abroad is not always my first choice for a holiday but if you do go that’s the sort of place to go.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Spalding , Lincs
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    Now that looks like a good quiet holiday

  4. #4
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    Jul 2008
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    Surrey
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    That looks like a lovely idea for a break combining a bit of paddling and messing about on the water, with relaxation away from it all.

    The river seems to be large for one heck of a way inland!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    Cumbria
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    The size and tidalness of the river surprised me. We were getting a good 4-6 feet of movement on a neep even 30km upstream from the sea (and it seemed like we had a reasonable elevation too). The river is the atlantic side of Gibraltar so I supposed there will be a fairly big tide there as the Atlantic pushes into the Med. You could paddle against the tide but it was hard work and you had to look for eddies etc. along side the banks to make much progress. Really weird paddling a river that fully changes direction every 12 hours, you need to get your head right. We landed up sailing Loon downwind with both sails fully powered and gullwinged but going backwards at one point. Makes the tiller do very odd things!

    I can't overstress just how full of fish this river is too. They were almost jumping into the boat, it must be very clean and full of nutrients despite its murky appearance.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Belgium, Gent
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    73

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    Very nice pictures ! Wish you a good holiday

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