Lima Escape – camping in Geres, Northern Portugal
Although commonly associated with beach holiday, Portugal has plenty to offer to holidaymakers who are willing to venture beyond the coast, looking for more diverse landscapes.
Alentejo region with its endless plains of olive groves is a common choice for people looking for peaceful surroundings, historic heritage and excellent food and wine.
The mountainous North on the other hand provides whole different settings: the lush greenery of the rolling hills, mountain streams and waterfalls, remarkably good weather with plenty of shade may be a much needed relief after a stay at the crowded beaches of the Algarve region or the oppressive heat of Lisbon during summer.
One of the most beautiful Portuguese national parks, Peneda-Gerês, an hour drive from Porto, is a must for nature lovers.
Although the northern part of Portugal offers a wide choice of accommodation solutions, ranging from luxury hotels to boarding houses and, very popular here, rental rooms, camping is for many the preferred way of enjoying the nature. There are several camping sites in Gerês, offering great conditions for staying in a tent, a motor home or a in a wood cabin. Find below information about Lima Escape camping site, the northernmost motorhome campsite in Portugal.
Between two rivers
Lima Escape is located in Entre Ambos-os-Rios municipality, near Ponte da Barca, in Viana do Castelo district of northern Portugal, at the very entrance to the Geres National Park.
The camping site located at the entrance to Peneda-Geres National Park
Entre Ambos-os-Rios means “between two rivers” and in fact the campsite occupies a promontory between two rivers tributaries of the River Lima. The distance to Ponte da Barca town is approximately 6 miles. 18 miles separate the camping site from Ponte de Lima. The distance from Lima Escape to Porto is about 68 miles.
Lima Escape is fairly easy to find: if you are coming from Spain via A3 / A 55 motorway, head towards Ponte de Lima, turn east to Ponte da Barca and follow the national road N203 east until you see the campsite’s signposting. If you are driving from Porto, head towards Braga an bypass the city in direction of Ponte de Lima / Valença, until you see signposting towards Ponte da Barca.
Thanks to its unique location, Lima Escape well deserves its name – facing water on three fronts the site does feel like a real, pine wood smelling, shaded refuge from the noise and haste of day-to-day life.
Lima Escape welcomes tents, camper vans and travellers who require a bit of luxury during their holiday (for example… a bed and a private bathroom). Apart from large space in a pine grove, generously distributed for different-sized tents and motorhomes, the park prides itself to offer rather unique ‘tree-house’ accommodation.
Tents and camper vans
The space allocated for different type of users is very generous and even during the peak season you should be able to find a lot of privacy. There are two shower/toilet/washroom buildings in two distinct areas of the park and picnic areas with grill/barbecue at the disposal of the camp’s guests.
A small playground is available for children.
It is important to notice, especially if you are travelling with small children, that al the area of the park is securely fenced, so there is no risk of falling into the water, despite the closeness of two rivers and quite steep slopes of the edge of the park. At night the central gate at the reception is locked. It is possible to park cars inside of the facility (at additional charge).
What from the outside looks like a simple wood cabin, is inside a fully furnished studio apartment, with a kitchenette and a private bathroom. Since the cabins are built on a fairly steep slope of the pines, once you are inside, you are at the level of tree tops, which gives this unique accommodation a tree-house-like feeling.
Camping site bungalows. © Photo: Find-cheap-car-hire.co.uk
The cabins, or bungalows are fully and tastefully equipped with everything needed for a short to medium length stay, including bed linen and towels and basic kitchen equipment. A garden furniture on the small balconies allows to enjoy comfortably the panoramic views of the River Lima or have an al fresco meal to the sound of the omnipresent nature.
If that is not cosy enough, a close fireplace is an additional asset of the bungalows if you are visiting Gerês outside the summer season. Shortage of firewood there is surely not at the campsite and some of it has already been stuck up by each bungalow by the park staff.
There are currently two bungalows, in the park: T1 with space for two and a slightly larger T1+1, which can accommodate up to 4 people (2 on the foldable sofa bed in the living room). The third bungalow is under construction.
Glamour camping, or glamping is a reasonable compromise between the tent camping experience and a little bit of basic commodities. In Lima Escape you can choose between two large Bell Tents comfortably equipped and set on a wooden deck over the river, or two, slightly smaller, Tipi Tents, where you also get to sleep in a proper bed.
Where to eat?
If you don’t feel like making your own food during the camping trip, the campsite runs its own restaurant and café/bar, where you will be able to taste traditional Portuguese cuisine and wines from the local wineries. The prices of meals are reasonable but the choice is limited on a long run. Apart from the obvious convenience of being able to grab a ‘quick bite’ or having a morning coffee on the spot, for more gastronomic experience venture out of the camping site. A generous, hearty meal at a fairly small price is guaranteed almost anywhere in the Portuguese countryside. The Portuguese love they food and they enjoy sharing it with foreigners. Be prepared to find fresh, flavourful ingredients and huge doses. Meat prevails in the northern cuisine and fish is scarce though.
In a walking distance from the campsite, there is a local restaurant ‘Novas Pontes’, serving lunches and dinners. For a larger choice, drive to Ponte da Barca.
Please note that the camping site’s restaurant, called ‘Adega do Artur’, closes on Mondays.
Basic food items can be bought at the site’s own convenience store.
A variety of outdoor activities are available at the camping site. It is possible to rent bicycles and kayaks at very reasonable rates. The helpful staff at the reception desks will gladly arrange for horse riding- quad, or stand up paddle surf experience at the nearby Touvedo dam.
The main attraction of Gerês is, however, the wealth and diversity of hiking routes here available.
Care has been taken in Lima Escape to provide the visitors with a choice of hiking trails at different levels of difficulty, nearly always leading to a place of unique natural beauty or at a site of historic interest . In only half a mile distance from the camping site, a mountain river pool, with crystal clear water will be a delight on a hot summer day. The site is easily accessed, even for the youngest hikers.
Lagoa do Eucalipto, just a short walk away from Lima Escape. © Photo: Find-cheap-car-hire.co.uk
Gerês is known for the abundance of mountain streams and cascades and waterfalls. If you are up to a 4 miles walk (or a 20 minute drive along a winding mountain road), another hidden gem will transport you to a little, unspoilt paradise.
Ponte de Ermida – a perfect place for a refreshing dip in a mountain river
Please note that the descent to the Ponte de Ermida lagoon (the picture above) is not easy and requires certain skill. Proper hiking shoes with a good grip are recommendable.
The access to the lagoons available within a walking distance from Lima Escape is clearly signposted with the campsite logo.
Mountain stream on the way to Ponte de Ermida. © Photo: Find-cheap-car-hire.co.uk
If you prefer to avoid main roads, a variety of hiking trails is available in Lima Escape surroundings; ask at the reception desk for help. The friendly staff, speaking in Portuguese, English, French and Russian will help you to choose the most adequate route.
Important note: please remember at all times that in Peneda-Geres you are in an environment protected area; littering or disturbing the wild life, fauna and flora are strictly forbidden and subject to fines.
Camping in Portugal – prices summer 2016
See the list of current prices (2016 summer season) at Lima Escape:
- small tent – EUR 3.60 per night
- medium tent – EUR 4.40 per night
- large tent – EUR 5 per night
- small camper – EUR 5.20 per night
- medium camper – EUR 5.50 per night
- large camper – EUR 6 per night
- small caravan – EUR 4.50 per night
- medium caravan – EUR 5.25 per night
- large caravan – EUR 6 per night
- car parking – EUR 6.5 per night
- electricity access – EUR 3 per night
- glamour bell tent – EUR 60 per night
- bungalow T1 – EUR 60 per night
- bungalow T1+1 – EUR 70 per night