Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês (The Peneda-Gerês National Park), also known as Gerês, is the only national park in Portugal (however there are many natural parks, protected landscapes, and reserves across the nation). It is 703km2 large and is located in the Norte region, in the northwest of Portugal, specifically in the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Vila Real. The main base is spa town Vila do Gerês. The park shares 80km of borders with Spain and embraces a corresponding Spanish reserve.
Peneda-Gerês National Park has been established on 8 May 1971 due to its national and international scientific interest, and to protect the soil, water, flora, fauna, and landscape, while preserving its value to the existent human and natural resources. Therefore it is also the most important park in Portugal. Education and tourism are also goals of the park.
Peneda-Gerês National Park is blessed (or cursed) with more rain than anywhere else in Portugal.
Due to the difficult living conditions, there have never be lots of residents here, so the ecosystems was saved and now you can still see wolves, eagles and other predators king. Once an area was also a home to brown bears but it is not at this time.
The peaks reach a height of about 1 500 meters. You will find here beautiful, untouched picturesque landscape with nice peaks and forested valleys with oaks, pines and yew. Park is one of the most visited areas of the Minho region, but you can easily climb into the mountains, where you will meet only herds of mountain goats.
The Peneda-Gerês National Park is divided into two main areas: the southern part Serra de Gerês which is a very popular for hiking and quieter and wilder hills of the Serra da Peneda, with much lower number of tourists.
The main starting points are the towns Mezio, Lamas de Mouro and Geres, where you also find information centers providing detailed information on the most interesting places in the park. They also can advice you on accommodation and are familiar with the possibilities of sport activities such as horseback riding. The whole area is covered by numerous hiking trails leading to many places around the reservoirs, where you can refresh after the whole-day tour.
In the park you will find mountains, river valleys, the megalithic monuments (Antas), waterfalls and small mountain villages. You can observe many different species of animals (such as deer, wolf, fox or wild horse or eagle) and plants. The rarity of the park is in 15 kinds of rare wild flowers. In some parts of the park you can see the extraordinary interesting flora (including remnants of oak forest).
View Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês – crown jewel of Portugal’s national parks in a larger map