What can we expect on a typical day?
Our expeditions are vigorous but not excessively rugged. However, they are not for totally inexperienced paddlers. We would like you to have done wet exits and if you haven't we can do that the first day. An advanced beginner would be fine. On our 9 night trips some days we will be covering rather long distances on the water so we expect all participants to be reasonably fit. Our 5 night trips are more relaxed.
Age should not be a factor. Our groups often include paddlers in their seventies. We paddle together as a group and our speed is determined by the slowest paddler. Typically we average 4 km. per hour when headwinds are mild. This is flat water paddling with a very little current.
We get on the water early enough each day to avoid headwinds that usually pick up around noon. Early starts also get us to our daily destination early enough to stretch our legs and visit the area. The guides appreciate help getting boats and equipment on and off the water. Our kayaks are very stable, seaworthy expedition single and tandem models.
Where will we be staying and eating?
We stay in small family operated hotels and quintas where our neighbors are Portuguese. Breakfast will be in the hotels. Lunches will be prepared by our guides or eaten in local restaurants. We will enjoy regional Portuguese cuisine in restaurants for evening meals. All our meals will be from local grown products mostly bought at that days market. In several cases the meals will be prepared with products grown in fields right next to the restaurant. We will do our best to cater to dietary restrictions but we must be informed when you sign on for the expedition.
Clothing for our trip
Foot wear: one pair of lightweight walking shoes and a pair of sandals and whatever you wear in the kayak which could be the same sandals.Flip flops are not acceptable as kayak footwear. There are more accidents getting into and out of kayaks than at any other kayaking moment. Flip flops tend to slip when wet and we can't risk slipping.
Kayaking wear; Some of these items you might not need but I prefer to err on the safe side. All this must be quick drying (i.e.) not cotton. Shorts or bathing suit suitable for wearing in any bar or restaurant, paddling jacket/rain and wind proof. Paddling pants if you tend to get cold easily. Long sleeved shirt, some sort of head protection from the sun, sunglasses with strap. A buff is something I find very practical for sun protection.
Off water wear: Long pants, skirt, dress, t-shirts and other clothes you might like but do travel as light as possible.
What can I read to prepare myself for this trip?
Cork Boat John Pollack 2004
Mr Pollack takes us on a dream fulfilling journey down the same route we
follow on the Douro River. The last part of the book is very relevant
to our expedition. In any case it’s an enjoyable read. Amazon has this
in both paperback and Kindle versions.
How do you suggest I travel to and from the pick up site?
The first Global Village Martin Page 2002
Mr Page has written what could be the most enjoyable book on the
history of Portugal. The paperback edition is available for about $25 in
Portugal. Amazon has a new paperback edition for $242.48 (outrageous
price). Amazon also has a kindle version for $12.94
All our expeditions will start and finish in Porto (OPO airport code) we suggest you fly into either Lisbon or Porto and leave from either Oporto or Lisbon. If you fly into Lisbon you can either fly or take the train to Porto. The train connections between Lisbon and Porto are very good.
General travel information links:
Portugal travel information:
A general search engine providing links
Offical tourist site for all of Portugal
Offical site for Porto tourist information
The Portuguese airline site
Site for all of Portuguese commercial airports. Gives names of all airlines serving the airport.
On-line news service
Temperature conversations from Celsius to Fahrenheit
Check the time difference in Portugal or Spain. Portugal is on GMT but Spain is one hour ahead.
Currency exchange rates
What is included in the expedition package
Experienced professional guides.
Individual Expedition kayaks, paddles, life jackets, wet skirts and paddling jackets.
Tandem kayaks are available on request.
Support vehicle for entire expedition. All our luggage is carried from accommodation to accommodation. You will not need to carry anything in the kayaks except a little money and your camera.
A small dry bag for personal items needed while on the water.
Transfers to the launch sites.
All meals from dinner on the first day to our farewell dinner on the last night. House wine or bottled water is included. You may select fine wines from the wine list.
Bed and breakfast or quinta accommodations in double bed rooms for the nights.
Bottled drinking mineral water.
Personal incidental purchases (souvenirs etc.)
Entrance fees for museums
Tips other than meals and hotels
Travel to the pick up sites (flights, trains etc.)
Travel to train station on first day is not included but of course the train is included.
What if I get sick or have an accident?
Kayaking has some inherent risks. Sickness and accidents can spoil an otherwise enjoyable time and really wreck a budget. Therefore, you must have a comprehensive travel insurance policy. You must be covered against loss of baggage, illness, accidents, trip cancellation and the very unlikely necessity, of emergency medical evacuation. Please revise the claim process and inform us of the contact information when you sign on this expedition.
How much money should I bring?
Remember that you must pay the balance of your trip cost in cash. We are usually working in a cash economy where we must pay everything in cash or suffer much more elevated costs. This is the reason we need to be paid in cash. If you absolutely must pay by bank transfer we will provide our bank details and you will have to pay a 23% vat that will be added on your invoice.
If you are traveling from outside the Euro Zone it is usually best to buy Euros before you arrive in Europe. In our travel information links, you will find sites for ATM machines that accept VISA and Master Cards. Generally the ATM machines have a daily limit of 300 Euros. Most international airports have exchange banks. Traveler checks are not a good idea as they must be changed at banks and the process is very time consuming.
After you pay the fees for the expedition in cash, that includes B&B and all regularly scheduled meals, you will only need money for personal purchases such as gifts and tips. Tips at restaurants are included. If you have enjoyed your tour the guides greatly appreciate your tips. When I'm asked about amount for tipping staff I say 10% of the tour price and this should be given to Rui and he will divide the total amount between the guides.
What will the weather be like?
Days in Portugal this time of year are usually sunny and comfortably warm and are similar to Atlanta, Georgia. 23 C (73 F) daytime, 14C (57F) nighttime. Evenings are cool but not cold. Rain is unpredictable but not common. A fleece sweater is suitable for cooler evenings. However, you should also be prepared for any cooler than usual weather. Having a windbreaker handy is always a good idea.
The electrical current in Portugal is 220 V 60 HZ. Most telephone, camera and computer chargers are prepared for 100-240V and 50-60HZ. If this is the case for your electronics then all you need to do is have a European round two prong plug adapter. If you plan to use your telephone you will want to ask your provider to set you up for roaming. Be sure to ask about the charges and be aware that voice connection is not the same as data connection. If you plan to use your smart phone for email you might find the charges are very high. A way to avoid this is to disable your phone date connection and only use Wi-Fi where it is available along our route. Most days we have Wi-Fi but not always.
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