Whenever I tell anyone that I have been to Portugal they immediately presume that I have been to one of the many tourist hot spots in the Southern half of the country. It seems that very few people (in Ireland anyway) know anything about what the Northern half of the country has to offer. For me beauty spots like this one near Soajo which is within the boundaries of the Peneda-Gerês National Park has a lot to offer. There is a very old world charm here with picturesque villages dotted throughout the park. Below is a photo of one of the native cows waiting for the farmer who was following a short distance behind. Something I noticed about him and most other people I met was that they all had an umbrella with them which was immediately put up the second there was even just a single drop of rain. As an Irish person living in a high rainfall area and someone who does not even own an umbrella I found this rather amusing.
The Peneda-Gerês National Park has more to offer than cows and goats. Over the last few years there has been the reintroduction of both the Iberian Wolf and the Iberian Lynx. Some of these animals may have come here from the Spanish side of the park where they also have a reintroduction program. I didn’t have the chance to see either of these wonderful species this time but I now know someone who can guide me in the right direction next time.
If you are interested in wildlife or hiking I highly recommend you use an experienced guide. I was very short on time but I did get to see some wild Garrano ponies. In this case my daughter was my guide. She knows the mountains where they were and she knows horses. Thanks to her knowledge we found them pretty quickly.
These ponies roam wild in the mountains of Northern Portugal but they are also a popular breed as both a working pony and a riding pony.
Above is a 3 year old Garrano pony which has been broken and is being trained as a riding pony. He had his first outing to a local fun jumping competition while I was there.
These dogs are a mixed breed but are part Cão de Castro Laboreiro which is a breed of dog which was used to protect livestock from wolves and other predators in the mountains. These two were meant to be given the job of looking after the goats but they decided that they preferred to stay home and play with the other dogs and horses.
This blog started out as a way of me discovering what other countries have to offer while I am not in a position to visit them. It has been fun but I feel that I have come to and end with it so this will be my last post for a while.
Thank you for joining me on this journey and hopefully I will be back again in the future.