Central Portugal is known for its natural treasures. Besides sandy beaches, like those in Costa Nova and S. Jacinto, you can explore its lagoons (Passadiços, Fermentelos lagoon or Ria de Aveiro), or have a picnic on one of many fluvial beaches. There is also an ancient forest, Buçaco, ideal for hiking. But this is not all. There are several waterfalls, well guarded secretes that I will share with you in this and the next stories. The first one is Cascata da Cabreia (Cabreia Waterfall), located in Serra da Cabreia, in the municipality of Sever do Vouga, district of Aveiro, Central Portugal. It's definitely a must visit waterfall.
Some say this waterfall is the most beautiful one in the continental Portugal. I haven't seen them all so I am not sure about this, but I agree it is very impressive. The waterfall is 25 meters high, but what makes it special is not its size. It's rather this peaceful atmosphere, ideal for meditation or just enjoying the its lush surroundings. Immediately next to it there is also a picnic park with its supporting structures, and the good news is that most of the time there are almost no visitors.
There are several official hiking routes (entitled "Cabreia e Minas do Braçal") in the area of the waterfall and all of them start next to the informative panel right next to the leisure area of Cabreia, in Silva Escura parish. The codes of the routes are PR2, all are circular and there are 3 distance options - 3,5Km 6,6Km and 10,5Km, so it takes from two to four hours to complete this rural trail through the forest. All of the paths are very well marked.
If you decide to do the trail that goes by the Mau River (Rio Mau), there are an abandoned mining infrastructure and a small windmill, both worth a visit. The complex was once one of the most important mining centres in the north of the country, employing more than 700 people. Although it was only discovered in 1850, it probably existed since the Roman times. In 1862 and 1863 locals protested against the mining industry, saying that it was having a negative impact on the beautiful surroundings. The complex definitely closed only in 1958. This provoked a big social problem in the region, as many people lost their jobs. Many of them decided to immigrate to France and Germany in search of a better life.
The access to the waterfall itself is easy, but to get there from Aveiro or Porto you need to have a car. All you need is to get on A25 road and follow the directions to Sever do Vouga. Once you are there, you turn right after a crossroad, going to Silva Escura/Cabreia.
The best time to visit might be in late June or early July, when there's the Blueberry Festival in Sever do Vouga. The festival lasts for 4 days and it's got more than ten years of tradition. Except for blueberries, there are many street food stalls, and different activities and concerts happening during these few days.
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