It is very rare to discover anywhere in Europe. It’s pretty well-trodden and everywhere that’s nice is known about. In fact the only way this can happen is if something is new, or it has emerged from behind an iron curtain. So it came as surprise to explore the Grande Lago in Portugal. This was created in 2002 when the River Guardiana was dammed at Alqueva. It is about 70 miles long and has 15 hire boats on it, that’s it! It’s totally nuts! They could have 10 times as many as this and it would still feel spacious. You can explore the whole thing in a week and there are 10 attractive villages dotted around the edge each having its own (free) marina.
Although there are no locks on the lake there is still a navigational challenge. Former peaks of once proud hills can lurk only a metre under the surface. There are also tops of trees and occasionally the roofs of former water mills which were on the original path of the river! Apparently they can’t just knock these down, as they are of historical interest. Luckily a fairly substantial sonar on the boat alerts you to these dangers.
The undoubted highlight of the lake is the hill-perched town of Monsaraz which now affords great views over the lake.
However my favourite place was Estrela which by pure luck now sits right on the lake shore. The tops of former hills and valley ridges create a beautiful low rolling set of islands and promontories. It has a simple tavern that fills up with old-timers who amusingly know absolutely nothing about boats.
The walk into Alqueva town is a perfectly relaxing stroll through green, rolling farmland dotted with sheep and cattle. The landscape is almost toy-like in its simplicity.
In Luz the entire village was moved up the hill brick by brick and person by person to avoid being flooded. The result is a weird mix of a real homely community with unmistakably Portuguese architecture and wide unnaturally straight roads, reminding you all is not quite what it seems.
Juromenha castle at the northern tip of the lake is especially atmospheric and although abandoned has been colonised by wild red and yellow flowers.
Type de bateau : Confort 1100
Je suis parti de : Amieira / Grande Lago (Portugal)
Je suis arrivée à : Amieira / Grande Lago (Portugal)
Date de départ : 05/06/2017
Date d’arrivée : 11/06/2017
APPRÉCIATION DE LA CROISIÈRE
Remise du bateau :
Etat du bateau :
Equipement du bateau :
Etat de l’équipement :
Restitution du bateau :
Vos remarques et suggestions concernant le déroulement de votre croisière :
Bon déroulement de la croisière malgré un bateau un peu ancien
APPRÉCIATION DES VACANCES
Globalement, vous êtes :
Quels souvenirs gardez-vous de vos vacances ?
Globalement un très bon souvenir
VOUS ET NICOLS
Pensez-vous louer à nouveau chez Nicols ? Oui
Nom : Gérard
Ville : DOMERAT
Pays : France
I cruised on a boat : Estivale DUO
Boat’s name : Portel
Leaving from : Amieira / Grande Lago (Portugal)
Return to : Amieira / Grande Lago (Portugal)
Date of departure : 29/04/2017
Date of return : 06/05/2017
UNFOLDING OF YOUR CRUISE
Handing over of the boat :
Boat condition :
Boat equipment :
Equipment condition :
Return of the boat :
Your remarks and suggestions about your cruise :
The list of items in the minibar was wrong when we returned the boat they said that was last mini bar list.
The windscreen wiper did not work
YOUR GENERAL IMPRESSION ON YOUR HOLIDAY
Your general sentiment :
What memories do you keep of your holidays?
Very good memories
YOU AND NICOLS
Would you like to rent a boat with Nicols again ? Yes
Name : Dave
City : Woodbridge
Country : England
This is the last full day of our trip and we want to make sure we are back at the Aimieira base this evening as we have to return the boat the following morning. We want to savour this last day so after an hour of sailing and while in the middle of the vast lake we enjoy a quick swim and some sandwiches for lunch.
Our next destination on route is the Alqueva dam. The mooring pier here is not for public use and it takes a card to open the entrance. Luckily there are two mooring spaces reserved for Nicols boats so we moor and visit the impressive 100m tall dam.
The last step of our journey once again highlights the peace and quiet and beautiful landscapes of the Grande Lago Alqueva.
As we reach the base at Amieira Marina there are already many boats moored up but thanks to a few days experience we easily manoeuvre the Quattro into a free space.
Our plan is to enjoy an evening meal at the marina’s restaurant, dining on the terrace to enjoy the panoramic views.
The Nicols base has lots for visitors – in addition to the restaurant there is a cafeteria, a shop and a watersports centre where you can hire an array of gear including kayaks. As there is no supermarket it is important to shop before you get to Amieira Marina. If travelling from Lisbon I would recommend stopping in Portel (20km from Amieira).
This holiday on a boat would be great to combine with a stay in either Lisbon or Evora. Both cities are remarkable and offer plenty of visitor attractions.
An illustration of Lisbon:
An illustration of Evora :
Our holiday was the first week of October broken down to 3 days in Lisbon, 4 days on the boat and 1 day in Evora. Although it was only a week the variety and everything we packed into it made it feel more like two weeks. We saw so much and lived completely differently to usual life and what’s more it was a very relaxing break!
We’re sure we’ll return again one day…
Catherine R., Basel, Switzerland
It is 6km from the pier into Monsaraz so early the next morning we set off on the walk and spend the morning exploring, visiting the fortifications and small shops as well as taking the weight off our feet with a coffee break. By the time we’re ready to return to the boat the weather is too hot for the walk so we take a taxi.
Our next stop is Luz, a village that was flooded by the dam and rebuilt adjacent to the resulting lake. On arrival we are the only boat at the floating pier and as it is so hot we decide to take a shower utilising the outside shower that’s on the deck of our Quattro. At that point there is suddenly a ring of bells…what is it…have we been transported to the Swiss Alps?! At that point we watch as a herd of cows wanders down to the water for a drink!
We spend a pleasant afternoon on the boat terrace reading and playing board games while in the evening we star gaze at the thousands of stars in the sky – made easy by the lack of light pollution.
Early the next morning we go into the village via the 1km footbridge to buy fresh bread for breakfast. At the entrance of the village is a new bakery which produces excellent pastries.
On the outskirts of the village there is a small museum with a viewing terrace showing where the old village is located. Unfortunately when we visited the museum was closed but we were still able to see the view from the terrace.
>> See the part 3/3