The Peneda – Gerês National Park is a sanctuary in terms of biodiversity, culture and history.
Within its limits it has countless animal and vegetable species, which attract many curious people to their domains. From nature enthusiasts, adventurers, hikers or people who just look for a peaceful day in this peaceful place.
Among all these attractions, one of the most requested are the waterfalls that the hydrographic network of the park provides and that have sculpted the beautiful landscapes with which it presents us.
As such, today will be our topic of choice. As regular explorers of the park, we have prepared for you a selection of waterfalls that we believe are a must-see when visiting this incredible location.
The national parks weather conditions are sometimes difficult to bear. Due to its different microclimates, not all times of the year are good to visit these magical places, although some are accessible even in the worst of conditions.
Our recommendation is that if you go to the park in order to visit the waterfalls, do so in late spring and summer.
The reason for this, is that during the winter, waterfalls have a great flow and the water is freezing. Its springs are located at considerable altitudes and the water has to travel through the cold granite stones to reach the lowest areas. Besides, the access during winter may be treacherous.
The end of spring arrives with the temperatures rising, announcing the summer, the water temperature rises considerably, which will delight bathing lovers, always accompanied by the already hot sun that is felt.
However beautiful as these sites are, they require a lot of prudence and caution when visiting them, they are located in steep terrains, some with difficult and slippery accesses due to the erosion suffered by granite stones.
It is imperative to use shoes suitable for the terrain, comfortable clothes, a generous amount of water to hydrate yourself and if possible aqua shoes that will give you a good grip when the time comes to enter the waters.
We reinforce that every year accidents happen and despite the park having very competent professionals in the rescue of the unfortunate ones who for some reason had an accident, the whole process is extremely difficult and often has to be done by helicopter.
We do not say it to scare you, but rather to prevent it, so that you can safely enjoy these incredible lost places.
We also reinforce that all the garbage produced by those who go there must be removed, because preservation is the watchword so that we can always get lost in the endless National Park of Peneda – Gerês.
Fecha de Barjas Waterfall
This is perhaps one of the most famous waterfalls in the park due to its location along one of its main roads between the villages of “Fafião” and “Ermida”, access is easily done by car.
Supplied by the “Arado” River and with nature as its architect, it has been given a stair aspect, on each step there is a small lagoon, where with the necessary precautions you can bathe with water and sun.
There are 4 different levels, the first 3 they are accessible by a stairway at the edge of the road, where two old water mills are to be noticed that used the strength of its waters to grind the cereals produced in the agricultural fields nearby.
The last of the cascade levels is the place where it joins the “Fafião” River, right at the bottom of the valley, to get there on the left side of the bridge where the upper levels begin, you will find a small dirt track that you will have to follow carefully until at the bottom of the valley, remember safety is first, go carefully, use the trees as a support and walk slowly, the path is steep and prone to slipping.
Arriving at the bottom of this trail you will find a beautiful lagoon of crystal clear waters with sand on its banks, now you have reached what is the most magical level of this stairway, surrounded by nature on all sides, you just need to relax and enjoy this piece of nature.
In the park, not all waterfalls are possible to use for bathing, some are only possible to contemplate due to their location not allowing interaction.
This is the case of the “Cascata de Leonte”, located on the road that connects “Vila do Gerês” to the border with Spain, commonly known as “Portela do Homem”.
To get there you will have to travel about 7 km of that road, it is then that on your left you find a huge waterfall, falling abruptly over the valley at the bottom of the hill.
As it is a waterfall for observation only, it does not pose great dangers, but we ask that if you go there by car that before stopping for your contemplation, choose a suitable place to park your car, as the road is narrow, winding and 2-way, even if it means that you have to walk a bit to get to the desired location, it will prevent traffic congestion and possible accidents.
It is time to tell you about the also famous “Arado” waterfall, which, along with the “Frecha das Barjas” waterfall, are the ones that most show people due to its easy access.
Located about 3 km from the village of “Ermida” going uphill, you just have to follow the main road until you find an intersection with a huge rock on the right side called “Miradouro das Rocas”, where you will also find a dirt path, path the one that you should follow for about 1 km, we recommend that you leave your means of transport at the beginning of the path and do it on foot, until you will reach the “Rio Arado” bridge, where the waterfall is located.
After the bridge on your left side there will be a grand staircase that takes you almost to the top of the hill, where you can contemplate the waterfall of “Arado”, the waterfall is of considerable size and will delight the lovers of photography.
For water lovers we recommend that you return to the bridge and take the route along the river in the same direction as the stairs, which will take you to the lagoon created by the waterfall, where you can relax, listen to the sound of the water and catch vitamin A with the sun that it will certainly be felt.
Remember to always press for safety and if you think that you will not be able to reach the lagoon safely, stay by the banks of the river, closer to the bridge that are of equal beauty.
This waterfall takes us to the West side of the park, to the municipality of “Arcos de Valdevez”, where in the parish of “Gavieiras” in the middle of a beautiful valley we will find “Senhora da Peneda”, a sanctuary once used to sleep the pilgrims who were going to make their prayers, when you go there and still in the distance you will start to see a white foam in the air coming from the back of the sanctuary, with the approach of the site a buzz will arise, a buzz that comes from the beautiful and blessed waterfall of “Peneda”.
This will be another one that will be just to contemplate with your watchful eye, however it will be worth every moment, with a fall of more than 30 meters it will look like a giant in front of you, its waters fall continuously all year round, forming a small course of water that flows under the Sanctuary towards the River “Peneda”, which flows nearby.
Legend has it that the waterfall is protected by “Senhora da Peneda”, saint in whose name the sanctuary was built. Here nature is in perfect balance with the action of man.
With a picturesque name, this work of nature takes us to the beautiful parish of “Cabril”, more specifically to the small village of “Pincães” that gives its name to the waterfall. The village alone makes us gawk at how it looks from other centuries, which we recommend you visit and spend some time with.
Arriving at the village, it’s time to get your muscles to work and do a bit of walking, but don’t be alarmed, it’s just 2 km of trail, into the woods, surrounded by green in all directions, with the sound of birds as a symphony, at on the way you will pass an old oil mill, where in the past the people of the village used to do this precious good, you will also see one of the many watermills in the region that have provided essential flour for a long time.
After these 2 wonders you will finally find a beautiful lagoon with a jaw-dropping waterfall, it is true that you arrived at waterfall of “Pincães”. Being easily accessible this is one of the possible waterfalls to visit all year round, always taking the necessary precautions.
Waterfall of the Lagoons of Mata da Albergaria
Located in the heart of “Mata da Albergaria”, a forest of enormous wealth in terms of Biodiversity and one of the most important in the park, which saw the status of the European Continent’s Biogenetic Reserve as being recognized by the European Council, being considered by the park’s regulatory standards an area partial protection and therefore surveillance.
To get there, you will have to go to “Portela do Homem” border door with Spain, where you can park your means of transport, we ask that you do not do it in any other part of the route except in “Portela do Homem”, as it is expressly forbidden to park on the edge of the forest and the maximum speed allowed is 40km / h so that nature is not disturbed by us humans, remember respect for nature is the first step towards conservation.
Arriving at the border in front of the existing building there will be an information sign about the park, next to the sign will be the trail that you will have to follow. It is available most of the year, but it is recommended to do it in the warm times, spring and summer.
The trail will take you to the heart of the forest, where at some point you will find a wooden bridge that it will give a beautiful view over the “Homem” River, cross the bridge and continue the trail on the right. This is a millenary trail, as it is part of the old Roman road that connected “Asturias” in northern Spain and “Braga” in Portugal, just imagine the legions of Romans who passed through here more than 1000 years ago, incredible don’t you think?
Continuing this path full of history and a little further on, you will find another beautiful wooden bridge, here we can say that we arrived, when passing the bridge you will have on your right the beautiful “Cascata das Lagoas da Mata da Albergaria”, all you have left now, always with due care, is to enjoy this beautiful space in which we have been happy so many times, be happy too.
Cela Cavalos Waterfall
Hidden between two wonderful villages in the Peneda National Park – Gerês, “Lapela” and “Cela”, we find another of the idyllic waterfalls, the “Cela Cavalo” waterfall, which is considered by many to be one of the least visited in the park, so it is still a well-kept secret.
To get there you will have to go to the Chapel of “Santa Luzia” in the village of “Cela”, where you will find a dirt road nearby that will make you walk for about 2 km, until your eyes and ears will be invaded by sight and sound of this wonderful masterpiece starring nature.
Interestingly the “Lagoa Cela Cavalos” is located in the upper part of the waterfall, to get there you have to climb the right side of the waterfall next to the ruins of an existing mill, just do it if you feel safe to do so, if you don’t feel safe to do so you can always stay in the lagoon that formed at the bottom of the waterfall that will be equally pleasurable.
Since there are no services close to the waterfall, such as bars, restaurants and shops, remember to take a snack. After the nice dives done there, will you certainly be hungry!
Being true to its name, this waterfall is located in the beautiful “Castreja” village of “Castro Laboreiro”, one of the sites full of history that this park has to give us.
Being in the village, you just have to look for the Old Bridge of “Castro Laboreiro”, a Roman bridge, from where you can admire the frenetic waters of the “Laboreiro” river that wind down the slope, leaving a sea of foam along the way, which falls abruptly on arrival at “Cascata do Laboreiro”.
Being a waterfall with difficult access to its waters, it will be mostly to contemplate, however it will delight the aficionados of photography, agitated and graceful this waterfall will make each picture a picture and if the view next to the waterfall does not serve you, there will be a nearby viewpoint, called “Salto do Gato” facing the waterfall that will allow you a more comprehensive view.
Lagoa do Poço Negro Waterfall
This is one of the best kept secrets of the park, located near “Vila do Soajo”, still little discovered by the adventurers who get lost here. This is one of the deepest waterfalls in the park, about 5 meters deep in the lagoon it formed.
The lagoon is called “Poço Negro” but do not be fooled the waters are crystal clear and pure. For the locals it is one of the favorite places to go for baths, due to its depth it allows dives from heights up to 9 meters. We do not reccommend this action, however you may see pleople doing it!
These magical places always have their dose of accidents and what we want is for you to have an experience to remember for the best reasons.
You should also remember when going to this waterfall, that this is a natural conservation spot that must be kept clean. Go and get involved with this place, a memory that will certainly last.
Poço Azul Waterfall
As a well-kept secret never comes alone, our last waterfall is just one of those places. It is called “Poço Azul” Waterfall, like the previous one, it is also very deep with about 6 meters of depth, which makes its waters quite cold because the sun takes time to penetrate them in order to warm them up.
The location is well hidden in the heart of the park so getting there will be a good walk, but the reward is always better after the effort, isn’t it?
To get there, you will have to go to the village of Ermida, where you will have to follow the PR14 trail until you find the “Rio Arado” Bridge, once the bridge is found, you have to continue following the road for another 3 km approximately, until you reach the “Tribela”, here you will have to turn left and go 1 km further until you find a square with a beautiful house with a swimming pool.
When you get to this point, what you have to do is go through the middle of the valley on the paths of the shepherds, they will be easy to notice and very intuitive in terms of orientation, taking this path you will descend to the River “Conho” that runs at the bottom of the valley, and then immediately go up the slope in front.
Arriving at the summit and with a view to make your eyes shine, we have already started to feel that we are arriving, turn left next to the shepherd’s shelter at the top of the slope, 2 km later you will find the magical site of the “Poço Azul” Waterfall . The path will have about 16 km round trip, a great choice for those who have a passion for walking, but do not dispense dives in idyllic places.
S. Miguel Waterfall
This is another one of the park’s most requested waterfalls, again due to its easy access, as it is next to one of the park’s main roads.
To get there you will have to go along the road from “Mata da Albergaria” to “Portela do Homem”, previously referred to as the border door with Spain, on the way and almost reaching the border you will see the waterfall on your right, continue and park your vehicle in the designated area, a little further ahead, as it is forbidden to park on the side of the road in the forest.
Going back about 1 km, we heard and felt for the first time the “São Miguel” Waterfall, supplied by the thriving River “Homem”, here you can do a little bit of everything, diving, sunbathing, exploring the surroundings of pure green or even have a small picnic, always following the rules of cleanliness and safety of spaces like this.
The “S. Miguel” waterfall has a beautiful lagoon at its bottom where the waters are crystal clear, calmer and warmed by the sun, perfect for a day of pure relaxation.
From the immensity of lagoons, streams, rivers and waterfalls that the national park has, we leave here based on the knowledge of the many years of experience that we have in these lands, the most incredible waterfalls of the National Park Peneda – Gerês.