David Fawcett writes:
I haven’t camped for over 30 years, so I was a little apprehensive about glamping in Santiago da Guarda with my family, but this turned out to be one of my best holidays ever! We visited for a few days in early June, as their first official visitors following their official registration. We flew into Porto, and had an easy drive from the airport to reach the village, which is also equidistant from Lisbon, less than a 2-hour drive. Dolittle Holidays is a brand new grown-up glamping site set in 3 acres of beautiful wild flowers, with just 4 spacious bell tents each charmingly furnished and decorated with bunting. Outside each tent there are two deckchairs to relax in and even a hammock between the trees to gently swing and read in comfort. The site is spacious and set out on several levels so that each tent is completely private, and so it would work equally well for individual couples or a family such as ours to gather together. One route to the tents is through a rustic archway, dotted with tiny fairy lights, to create a magical feel to the whole site. The English owners Dave and Alison had a vision of a new life in the countryside in Portugal, and they have created a haven of tranquillity here, only broken by the cockerel crowing in the morning and the gentle chimes of the village clock. The centre piece of the campsite is the large threshing circle, which has been lovingly turned into the meeting point for the glampers, with a gazebo for shelter and lacy patterned solar lights to brighten the evening darkness. Moita Negra mornings may be misty, but within moments the sunshine seems to break through and butterflies flutter past, and the gazebo provides welcome shade. They have taken a ramshackle traditional building and turned it into a place of great but simple beauty, with an unexpected air of sophistication. The toilet block is a charming white washed building, with excellent showers, real toilets, and facilities for both males and females, and outside there is an ancient bread oven which could even be brought into use for making pizza. For a very reasonable price per tent, Dave and Ali provide a continental breakfast, with freshly brewed coffee, homemade muesli, and tasty local bread and jams, with the highlight picking your own oranges from the abundant orange trees that brighten the campsite. If you’re lucky, you may even taste some of their wonderful homemade marmalade. You eat at a large central table, with beautiful wooden and sleek colourful metal chairs, not your traditional folding camp chairs, but a place to sit in comfort to talk and eat, or drink a glass of wine together. Around and about, there are beautiful white beaches within an hour’s drive, spectacular river and lake swimming, castles and Roman remains. Eating out is a great pleasure here, excellent food, including fresh fish, at around 10 euros per head, which includes freshly made soups, salad, vegetables, rice, beans, chips, garlic roasted new potatoes, as much as you can eat, followed by a local dessert and free flowing wine. All in beautiful surroundings! One of the most amazing things for me was not just the beauty of the area, but the fact that all the visits we made were free to access, unlike so many other tourist regions in the world. The scenery is magnificent with breath taking forests and mountain views, the sky seems limitless and the air fresh and invigorating. For us, it was the opportunity to meet up as a family, to chatter into the night over a glass of wine or port, and to sleep peacefully in the fresh air. As a family, we were all agreed, that we can’t wait to come back again next year, to meet up with our charming hosts again and spend some more time investigating the delights of glamping in Portugal. Thank you, Dave and Ali for a truly memorable trip, in following your dreams you have created an idyllic haven here to share with your lucky visitors.