If you like to do some trekking in the mountains and you are in Porto/Aveiro area for some days, you should consider visiting Drave in the mountain range Serra de Arouca. You can’t access it by car, there’s no electricity, piped water, gas, telephone, sanitation or any other type of modernization. There are also no shops and money is useless in this paradise hidden in the mountains. Since the year 2000 it has no inhabitants. The houses are made of stone with shale roofs.
The village is uninhabited, but is far from abandoned. Since 1995 the scouts have been reconstructing some houses and area around them. It became one of their national base.
From Porto to Drave the distance is 100 km and it should take around 2 hours to get to the nearest point accessible by car. Map here.
I had first visited the “Magical Village” in 1998 when I was part of a local scouts group and there was still an old couple living there. I remember meeting the priest that used to walk from Regoufe to Drave quite often to check on them. Since then, I’ve been visiting this place at every opportunity.
How to get there?
The paths in the mountains are well signalized and should be considered of moderate difficulty. I propose you make the routes PR14 or PR13+PR14.
PR13+PR14 – start in Covêlo de Paivô and by foot from there: Covêlo de Paivô – Regoufe – Drave – Regoufe – Covêlo de Paivô (17km return – 7hours)
PR14 – start in Regoufe and by foot from there: Regoufe – Drave – Regoufe (8km return – 3 hours)
I recomend you consider spending the night in Drave if you plan on making both PRs.
During wniter times, I do not recommend driving to the closest point. I’ve been stuck there and had to call the firefighters to get the car out. You have to drive through a bumpy dirt road but it’s the closest point. The access is made through Portal do Inferno (Hell’s gate). Check the map here.
Where to sleep?
The only option to sleep in Drave is to camp. There are many places to do it. During the weekend you will most likely find some scouts so you should ask them where you can build your tent.
In a place like this it is mandatory to leave it better than you found it so you should carry garbage bags at all time and carry it out when you leave.
There is a proper bathroom you can use if you can find it:)
- If you stop in Regoufe on the way, visit the wolfram mines.
- Take warm clothes and a good sleeping bag as it can be very cold during the nights.
- Take your swimming suits. Drave has some fantastic lagoons if you have the courage to enter its cold waters. Follow the river a couple hundred meters down to find some of these lagoons.
- You must be very, very careful not to get injured there. There is no access by car in this place so it’s a nightmare to brake your leg in such a place.
- You must carry your own food and water as there is no place for you to buy anything. The nearest shop in 8 km away and it’s a 3 hour walking.
- Don’t forget your flashlights and matches to make a fire
More pictures from Drave and Portugal here.