I have a friend who has InvestmentsOn Arouca, a week after its inauguration. As soon as I saw the photographs, I decided that I had to walk along the Paiva River. It seemed an extraordinary tour and a beautiful way to get to know one of the most crystalline rivers of Portugal, once only accessible to lovers of the Rafting.
The Passadiços do Paiva route connects Areinho to Espiunca, very close to Alvarenga (a locality known as "Alvarenga steak"), along 8.700 meters, most of which are on wooden walkways that follow the rocky slopes of the left bank of the Rio Paiva.
The perfect setting for a mini trekking, as the photos of the official website.
It was decided that I would meet Paiva's Passadiços in the company of my daughter. I challenged a friend and his children and we set a date in mid-August that suited everyone. What I did not know is that the Passadiços do Paiva if they had however become fashionable in summer, with the right to report on travel magazines and television appearances.
Still, it was worth it.
Hiking in the Footbridges of Paiva: my experience
We left Porto and opted to go to Arouca along the National Road. It was a kind of return to the past, while going from Porto to Algarve in a "Carocha" Volkswagen by EN1.
So we took a little longer to get to Arouca but, since the day was overcast (ideal for walking), this did not cause any concern.
You can start the Passadiços do Paiva in two points, Areinho or Espiunca, but the sense unanimously considered less demanding is what begins in Areinho. Of course, even because We traveled with kids (8, 9 and 14 years), that was our choice.
On arrival at Areinho, I was surprised by a small river beach with two rescued swimmers, public bathrooms, a bar to support bathers and walkers, and a car park where I could conveniently park the car. In fact, we arrived at the right time, since 15 minutes later there were many cars arriving already with no place to park.
The beginning of the walk seemed to me uninteresting. You start off on a dirt track, follow a few hundred meters of wooden walkways to the first grand staircase. Upstairs, new dirt road zigzags up the mountain without much interest. It was worth the fact that, shortly afterwards, a belvedere appeared with overwhelming views over the valley and to know what lay ahead; we got motivate the children for the wooden walkways that were to arrive.
From here it is almost always down. First of all, through an enormous staircase that we had to descend, along which the valley opened before our eyes for the first photographs of the Rio Paiva and its new wooden walkways, almost always installed in structures suspended in the Paiva valley. From here, the expectation was that of a lovely walk.
Given the late hour we began to walk, the children began to complain about hunger. But we were in an embryonic stage of the tour and there I challenged them to endure until we reached the river beach of Vau who, from what he had read, was the perfect place to have lunch the sandwiches and salads we had in our backpacks.
We walked along the valley, following the river walkways, and was truly impressed by the beauty of the course.
We met with some athletes training hard and hundreds of people to the contrary, most of whom were migrants in France (at least they spoke in French) and notoriously without any connection to walks and an active life. Some people would walk in sandals. When I saw people who did not walk, it was when I realized that, in fact, Paiva Footbridges were in fashion. And that was the only thing that displeased me the whole way.
When we got to Vau, it was already 13: 30 and the children were starving. THE river beach of Vau it has a lot of shade and a fairly large beach (the scale of a river beach), being the most appropriate for the whole trip to have lunch and dive in the Rio Paiva.
That's what we did. Or rather, almost. Driven by many people's deception, make picnics, we stopped before Vau beach, thinking that the beach would be that, and there we did our picnic without great conditions. Only after we had resumed the march did we see the real beach, and decided to stay there for a good rest and jokes on the water.
That's when I got to know the little bar there. I went to have coffee and I commented the amount of people I saw in the Passadiços do Paiva, but the answer was ready: "Today is a calm day, come here at the weekend and can not even see the wood of the bridge."
From a comforted stomach, we travel from the remaining 4 km to Espiunca with enhanced energy and awakened senses, relatively easily (ascents are rare). There was rarely a moment's silence, but even that did not stop me from enjoying the walk.
The ride is truly spectacular, the breathtakingly beautiful scenery and the structure of the footbridges a phenomenal work. Let the summer peak pass, let the Paivas footbridges fall into oblivion and then, yes, enjoy the ride with the tranquility that the Rio Paiva deserves. Because it's really worth it.
At least in my case, on arrival at Espiunca, at the end of walking the brand new footbridges of Paiva, kids and adults were happy. Immeasurably happy!
Tips for enjoying the Paiva Footbridges
I leave here a series of tips so that you can enjoy a better experience in Rio Paiva:
- First of all, in the summer months, avoid making the Paiva Footbridges during the weekend and holidays (at least while they are "trendy");
- Go early in the morning, it's the best time to walk. If it's a long way, maybe it's not a bad idea sleeping near the Passadiços do Paiva;
- Take comfortable walking shoes (and this excludes the Hawaiians, combined?);
- You can start the tour in Espiunca or Areinho (in Google Maps search for "Arainho Bathing Zone"), but I suggest you start the walk in Areinho, because in this way you will face the ascent and the stairs at the beginning of the walk, and not at the end, when you will be more tired. It is the physically less demanding sense;
- There is a car park at Areinho beach, where there is also a bar to support bathers;
- The best way to get to Areinho or Espiunca is by car. If traveling with friends in two cars, leave one at each point;
- If this is not the case, do not worry about returning to the beginning of the trail, there will be taxi drivers waiting for you. The race between Espiunca and Areinho costs, round numbers, between 12,5 € (taxi for 4 people) and 15 € (vans for more passengers);
- Bring water. With the exception of a salesman at the top of the grand staircase (km 3, direction Areinho - Espiunca) and a small café by the river beach of Vau, I did not see water points where I could supply (and most of the way the river is not accessible);
- For those who come in the Areinho - Espiunca direction, the river beach of Vau is after of coffee, 5 km after starting the ride in Areinho; do not make the mistake of most of the hikers who rest on the other side, in an area without the least interest and conditions. The beach is the best place to have a picnic;
- The total of the walk is 8,7 km (double if you do it in both directions), but you do not have to do the totality - you can leave in Vau;
- Avoid very sunny days, because there are many areas of Paiva Footbridges without any shade. Lightweight hat and sunscreen;
- There are emergency phones along the route, similar to those found on Portuguese highways.
More information on www.passadicosdopaiva.pt.
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