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

Progressing northwards in our motorhome through Portugal, our next stop was to be the coastal city of Porto. 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. The hustle and bustle of this can become tiring after a while! So our next stop turned out to be just the reboot we needed. 

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.

Now, this isn’t the first time I have endeavoured to compose this post … the last attempt took me off at a tangent, to say the least … but I went with the flow! This is how it started:

I’m not sure why the visit to the Parque Biologico de Gaia, Portugal, was so thrilling for us. It’s not like we hadn’t seen a lot of the wildlife featured ever before. As I ponder what captured our enthusiasm for the place, there are a few thoughts swirling around in my head.

That whole article became about our Love Affair with nature and the importance of creativity , rather than the specifics of our afternoon trip to the Parque de Biologico de Gaia!  

 Needless to say, this time I am staying focused.  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 surroundings of the Parque Biologico de Gaia.

A Stroll Through the Park

The birds were chirping in the trees and the soft breeze brought with it a faint scent of Spring flowers. The first sight to greet us, was a cute red squirrel scurrying towards us on the path. It’s funny how the mind works and how some images prompt certain memories.  Seeing this little fellow took me right back to my childhood watching ‘Tufty the Squirrel‘ in the road safety advertisement on television! Quite some time ago now! 

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 tiny rescued owls had just been brought in and 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 might meet us around the other side.

These rescued exotic turtles were all vying for a waterside spot. They are not released because they compete with 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 the area, in and around the ponds of the reserve.  Several species of migratory birds also visit the park, depending on the season. The park also 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

The wildlife, some roaming wild, others protected in large cages or pens for rehabilitation protection were housed in respectful environments.  Signs reminded visitors to make minimal noise so as not to disturb the animals unnecessarily.

Some of the animals would be harder to catch a glimpse of if the grounds weren’t peaceful. Examples of these included the fox and the deer.

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 surrounding nature and watched the antics of many of the inhabitants. We had plenty of new animals to add to our ‘Animals we’ve met on our Journey‘ Page on our blog.

These baby Iberian wild boars were just 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 also mesmerizing. We caught them up to lots of tricks as they head butted each other and frolicked and jumped around on the rocks.

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 land was originally farmland and the park has replicas and old buildings displaying life as it was – 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

Unlike the young chicks, who 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
Gradual disappearance of chicks under mums wings. If you look closely on third photo a little head can be see popping out.

The landscape was showing the first signs of Spring, with fresh green buds and spring blooms. The park hosts more than 200 species of wild plants which makes for a 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

Suffice to say, our afternoon at Parque Biologico de Gaia was just magical. It was a delight to get so close to many of the animals and the environment was so 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 into 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. 

We would love you to leave a comment and be sure to follow us along at 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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