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Self-Guided Adventures with Support Every Step of the Way

For the first time ever, all Country Walkers self-guided vacations include turn-by-turn GPS navigation on every route.

Self-Guided Adventures with Support Every Step of the Way

When Country Walkers guest David Morgan joined our Portugal: Sintra & Rota Vicentina Self-Guided Tour with his partner, he was surprised to discover how much our included GPS navigation helped him find his way. “It was really nice, because I just had it in my pocket,” says David. “It was like somebody was walking with us saying, ‘oh hey, take a right up here at the next turn.’ Sometimes, we thought we knew where we were going and weren’t really paying attention, and then we realized that we were off track because the app was giving us a signal. We could easily retrace our steps and get back on course—and it was fantastic to be able to hear the directions so we could keep our eyes on the scenery as we walked.” After downloading the app onto his smartphone, the detailed routes and voice navigation gave David the confidence to explore Portugal’s delightful array of coastal forests, pristine golden sand beaches, soaring cliffs dotted with umbrella-like pine trees, and sleepy seaside whitewashed villages.

If you’re looking for a walking vacation that gives you the independence to explore at your own pace with expert support along the way, a Country Walkers self-guided adventure is for you. For the first time ever, all Country Walkers self-guided vacations include turn-by-turn GPS navigation on every route. Self-guided adventures are private, fully planned vacations that give you the flexibility to travel at your own pace—as well as the support of a local host. Detailed route notes, and GPS navigation, guide you every step of the way—and luggage is transported for you to each hotel.

David kicked off the first day of his adventure with a history buff’s dream—a hike that offers opportunities to explore both a palace and a castle. After a stop to take in the vividly painted terraces and lavish interiors of the 19th-century Pena Palace, he continued along the trail (and much further back in time) to one of his favorite landmarks of the trip, the 8th-century Castelo dos Mouros, perched high atop the granite cliffs overlooking the ocean. “You could see for 60 or 70 kilometers out across the ocean—it was unbelievable,” David remembers. “We learned about the arrival of Norwegian Vikings, and it was an amazing experience to look down from the cliff and picture what the arrival of the armada must have looked like from that vantage point.” Being deeply immersed in the history of the region gave David’s journey a sense of timelessness.

The first day of the adventure concluded with a meeting with a Country Walkers local representative. “He went over the whole itinerary with us,” David explained. “There were a couple small changes that he was able to talk us through. That’s the great thing about having a local expert available—they’re really up-to-date on the conditions of the trails, any changes to opening hours for local attractions, and other little details.” The representative also talked them through the transportation to and from the trail, letting them know who the drivers were and providing details on their afternoon pickup locations. “He was such a helpful resource, he answered all of our questions,” David recalls. If you’re not sure how to download the GPS app onto your smartphone, your local representative will be happy to set it up during your orientation meeting.

When asked about his favorite day in Portugal, David was hard-pressed to choose, but eventually landed on a walk which winds along one of the most scenic areas of the Fisherman’s Trail section of the Rota Vicentina. “The terrain was so varied, and the views were so spectacular,” David recalls. “We came across an ancient fort sitting on a bluff overlooking the ocean and stopped for a while to take in the view. We imagined what life must have been like for the people manning these defensive outposts in the 1600s.” Walkers begin this day on the White Summit, named for the color of its sediment, and walk along cliffs with breathtaking views of the golden sand beaches below. The trail leads to a small fishing harbor, with opportunities to pause for a cold drink at a seaside restaurant before continuing through aromatic forests of pine, oak, and eucalyptus. The day ends in the picturesque village of Zambujeira do Mar with cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings that are home to charming shops and cafes—the perfect place to shop for local hand painted pottery or an embroidered shawl to bring home.

After an action-packed day of walking, David and his partner opted to take a rest day. The stunning Herdad de Matinha is an ecological reserve in the middle of a natural park, flanked by the mountains. Its whitewashed buildings take full advantage of the area’s rural beauty—with delightful gardens, a swimming pool, and walking paths leading across the mountains to miles of unspoiled coastline. “The hotel arranged a bike rental for me, and I was able to explore miles of trails through the countryside,” says David. “My partner opted for a relaxing day at the beach. They also offered surfing lessons, yoga, and horseback riding—we had tons of options for the day. This was a standout hotel for us—we loved the tranquility, and the staff were so helpful and accommodating.” With a flexible Country Walkers self-guided vacation, and the support of our GPS navigation app, David and his partner were able to do exactly what they wanted—every step of the way.




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