The paddle today will not be forgotten. the Valeira Cataract was the greatest obstacle to navigation on the Douro River till the first great hydraulic project was carried out between 1780 and 1791. This project was to demolish the falls and they succeeded to make it possible to navigate up the Douro to the border with Spain. This made it possible for an important development of the wine industry and in fact was the reason for the project. This incredible project didn’t eliminate the dangers of the river, it only made it possible to pass, but still with great risk. A point worth mentioning is that the wine casks were only half filled so when a boat hit the rocks the wine casks would float and be saved. The man who made the first detailed map of the Douro, Baron Forrester, drowned in this place 70 years after it was demolished.
All 5 locks on the Douro River are the same size and allow boats up to 272 ft. in length, 37 ft. beam and a draft of 12.5 ft. Today we will pass this (2.8 miles from Sao Xisto 1.5 hr.) Valeira Gorge via a lock that will lower us 108 ft. This is one of the most impressive locks in the world and it’s part of the Valeira Dam which was finished in 1975. In the lock we will be lowered 108 ft. to continue our journey down the river. Going through a lock in a kayak for the first time is an interesting experience and you´ll enjoy it, I’m sure.
After the lock we´ll have a lunch stop at a beautiful site on the left bank of the Douro and continue down river to the small village of Tua. When we arrive we’ll have a bit to eat and go to our hotel where we’ll spend the night at (http://www.casadotua.com