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Portugal

Parque Biologico de Gaia, Porto – A Reboot in Nature

 Escape from the crowds and let your senses feast on the fabulous flora and fauna found at Parque Biologico de Gaia, an Environmental Rehabilitation Centre and Nature Reserve, near Porto, in Portugal. 

Next Stop – Porto, Portugal

The hustle and bustle of travelling can become tiring after a while. Travelling through Europe inevitably involves visiting the main cities. However, more often than not, even in the off-season, these can be brimming with eager tourists all vying to see the same ‘must see’ spots. We were heading northwards in our motorhome through Portugal and our next stop was to be another one of the main cities, the coastal city of Porto.  The Parque Biologico de Gaia Motorhome stop, however, turned out to be just the reboot we needed.

Motorhome Parking

We always try to park the van outside of the cities, as driving a 7.5-metre motorhome in the city centres is not something we would even begin to call fun!  The motorhome site we chose was on the grounds of the Parque Biologico de Gaia, a small Environmental Nature Reserve about a 20-minute drive from Porto. In addition, it was on a bus route directly into the city, which meant easy access for us without the van. Just perfect.

white motorhome with small Australian flag on the front parked between two green high hedges at Parque Biologico de Gaia

The Parque Biologico de Gaia

The Parque Biologico de Gaia consists of 35 hectares of forests, farmland, typical rural buildings and barns. It is home to over 200 species, many being representative of the area. The park provides environmental education and it houses injured and rehabilitated animals that would not survive if released back into the wild.

Trees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

Entry to the park is inexpensive, but an added bonus for us, by staying at the campsite, was that entry was free.

The park was a welcome break from the cities and we were delighted to immerse ourselves into nature.

So, take a step back with us. Let’s retreat for a moment away from the maddening crowds. Take time to breathe and enjoy the serene, peaceful and enthralling surrounds of the Parque Biologico de Gaia.

A Stroll Through the Park

The birds were happily chirping and the soft breeze carried a faint scent of the Spring flowers. The first cutie to greet us was an inquisitive red squirrel scurrying towards us on the path. It’s funny how the mind works and how certain memories can be prompted.  Seeing this little fellow, took me right back to my childhood watching ‘Tufty the Squirrel‘ in the road safety advert on TV! 

Three picture of a red squirrel atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

The 3km exploration path of the Parque Biologico de Gaia meanders its way through woodlands, and swathes of fields and farmland. In addition, the River Febros flows through the park, powering the old mills and providing an ecological water source for the wildlife in the area. 

Two new baby owl arrivals were still adjusting to their new environment.

Two brown and white speckled owls atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia
Two tiny rescued owls adjusting to their new environment

The long, winding path beckoned us to explore each little crevice to discover what might be hidden there. Each bend enticed us, curious about what new creature we might meet around the other side.

These rescued exotic turtles were all vying for a waterside spot. The exotic ones are not released into the wild, because they would compete with the native species. 

Three pictures - on the left a picture of about twenty turtles on the edge of a pond and around it. The middle is a close up of a turtle's head. The end one a closer view of turtles climbing on each other near the waters edge at Trees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

More than 40 species of wild birds nest in and around the ponds of the reserve. Several types of migratory birds also visit, depending on the season. In addition, the park houses birds of prey and many varieties of waterfowl.

two black and white birds with long orang bills - storks atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

one tall white bird and two ducks in a pond atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

White and brown vulture on a big old log atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

Some of the wildlife was found roaming free, while others were protected in large cages or pens for rehabilitation protection.  Signs reminded visitors to make minimal noise, so as not to disturb the animals unnecessarily. It would be harder to catch a glimpse of some of the more timid animals, such as the fox and deer if the grounds weren’t so peaceful.

photo of red fox - mainly his headTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia
Peaceful red fox enjoying an afternoon snooze in the sun

 

small brown and white deer with its tongue poking out atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia
Cute little deer watching us carefully

Time passed quickly as we absorbed the nature vibes and watched the antics of the animals. We had plenty of new additions to add to our ‘Animals we’ve met on our Journey‘ page.

These baby Iberian wild boars were captivating to watch. One was larger than the other and pushed the smaller around a little – quite literally.

A large rbown wild boar nuzzling her two babies which are light brown and white stripedTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

 

Two baby wild boars white and brown striped - the larger one is pushing the smaller from the rear end

The wild goats were mesmerizing as they headbutted each other and frolicked around on the rocks. Their balance is incredible.

two wild goats head butting each otherTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

There was no doubt about who was the head honcho!

large wild goat with large horns on its head atTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

Much of the area was originally farmland and in the park, you can find replicas of old farm buildings displaying life as it was originally – along with the farm animals.

This cheeky pig seemed to enjoy the attention.

Friendly white and black pi with a piece of green leaf plant being dangled in frontTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

These young chicks were quick to scurry under the protection of Mumma Hen’s feathers.

Three photos - one shows hen and 4 chicks; next one shows hen and last chick going under feathers and last one shows just hen but with one tiny little chick head popping up through the feathersTrees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia
The gradual disappearance of chicks under mums wings. If you look closely at the third photo, a little head is popping out.

The landscape was showing the first signs of Spring, with fresh green buds and spring blooms. New life springing into action. The park hosts more than 200 species of wild plants which makes for an interesting and pleasant environment to wander through. 

photo of stream and trees and plants - also a close up of some snowdrops Trees and plants surrounding a small river at Parque Biologico de Gaia

 

Reboot Complete

 It was a delight to get so close to many of the animals and the environment was soothing and peaceful. It was a total reboot for the soul.

So, if you want some peaceful time to just wander, if you love animals and nature or want somewhere the kids will find interesting then a visit to Parque Biologico de Gaia would be an excellent choice. 

Our trip to Porto the next day was so much more enjoyable after our little rejuvenation session in nature!

Have you visited the Parque Biologico de Gaia or are you planning a trip?  Remember to ask us any questions that you may have. 

You can also follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook, for extra content and photos.

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Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

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