~ Testimonials ~

Janneke Bergmans ~ May 2022

When I first heard of the Caminho do Dão, ‘a nature pilgrimage’, I immediately knew I wanted to join in. I knew the Dão from the paradisiacal weeks on Moinhos do Dão, where I felt again and again how happy I was with the beautiful surroundings, the continuous presence of the river: splashing sounds, mossy stones, the smell of natural water. And swim whenever you want.

Walking along this river for a week seemed just what I needed at this point in my life. After years of hard work, I was looking forward to this week as an oasis of peace and greenery: just having to walk and look at all the beauty.

Read the full account of Janneke's Caminho experience HERE

Paulo Ferrão ~ May 2021
Hiked the full Caminho do Dão in the spring of 2021 with a group.

Walking the Caminho do Dão was a wonderful sensory and emotional discovery. As if traveling through a lifetime, that of the Dão river from its source to its mouth, which, just like ours, seeks its way, it overcomes the obstacles that arise and serves its purpose, whatever it may be.

As Beirão, a native of Seia, it was a surprise to discover the intimacy of the river so close and that I have so often crossed in a fast car over the various bridges that span it. The river is left behind, below, and we are left without knowing who it really is. We have lost the inaccessible gorges, however small, that keep the river out of sight, leaving only its muffled roar. We don't see the surrounding nature, the giant oak trees, the meadows. The ancestral stepping stones, the weirs and mills that once gurgled with human life. We never got to know the people of Dão who so warmly welcome us and share their pride in the river. All this was possible when we took the time to walk and feel. And the swimming, ah, the swimming in those natural waters that were, for me, one of the high moments of communion in the Dão, a baptism of peace, a rebirth.

All this would not have been possible without the persistence and tireless work of Freya who, from her little piece of paradise in Moinhos do Dão, wanted to know more than what her eyes could see and decided to discover and make known the Dão river. Chance provided me with a wonderful walking company, Debra, Deborah and Olivia, it was a perfect five days because of the Dão, Freya and the company.

Thank you all!
I want to repeat the experience every season of the year!

 

Deborah Richmond ~ May 2021
Hiked the full Caminho do Dão in the spring of 2021 with a group.

Walking the Camino do Dao was life changing for me. A far greater part of myself became integrated back into nature and the landscape. The  connection with the river facilitated this, weaving in and out of its presence, power and beauty.
I understand why are ancestors went on pilgrimages, these experiences brings a deeper sense of connection, peace and wonder to this planet we live on. Thank you Freya for creating this journey to which I will be back. All supported with amazing food & wine, cosy places to stay in and wisdom from the locals.

Olivia Andrews ~ May 2021
Hiked the full Caminho do Dão in the spring of 2021 with a group.

Hiking the Caminho do Dão with Freya was a truly amazing experience! It was a wonderful way to explore and experience Portugal. The scenery along the river was beautiful and wild, with many stunning spots to stop for lunch. The accommodation was luxurious and the food was incredible. I tasted so many local specialties along the way - and there were always vegetarian options. Freya was very knowledgeable about the area and made an excellent and interesting guide. We spent a much-appreciated rest day at her eco quinta, Moinhos do Dao, and were fed amazing food and did yoga by the river.
Freya put a lot of thought and care into organising the hike and everything ran smoothly. We had a really special group and by the end we were all firm friends. I highly recommend this hike if you are looking for an adventure in Portugal.

Debra Delglyn ~ May 2021
Hiked the full Caminho do Dão in the spring of 2021 with a group.

The Caminho do Dão is an extraordinary opportunity to walk with and witness a river in all her life stages, and what a wonderful river she is! The scenery is varied as well as stunning and it's fascinating to experience ecology, history and culture along her banks. Freya has explored this area thoroughly in order to find suitable paths, mostly away from the roads and through a wide range of ecosystems; she's also scoped the best places for rest, refreshment and accommodation so you will be extremely well-cared for. It was a deep and meaningful week, the impacts will stay with me for a long time, as are the friendships formed.
Debra, Portugal

 

Piet van Dam ~ October 2019
Hiked a part of day 3 (between Penalva do Castello and Alcafache) and the full day 5 from Sangemil to Ferreiros do Dão. Has been hiking in the Dão valley since 1992.

Hallo Freya,

Herewith some of my thoughts and feelings about hiking along a river and along the river Dao.
A river makes you curious about where it comes from and were it goes. You want to see the source and the end. It makes you meditative because of the ever ever flowing of the water. It gives you a target to follow the river up or down and to try to walk as near the river as possible. The Dao is a relatively small river and it has a good length for a good hike, and there are a lot of nice paths along the river or in the valley. There is a lot variety in the landscape so it makes the Dao very suitable. On hot days there are a lot of possibilities to bath or swim. The source of the river is a very very nice place, it could not be nicer and impressive.

Greetings,
Piet.

Vitor Monteiro ~ October 2019
Hiked day 1 starting at the source of the Dão ending at Quinta da Ponte.

It was really thrilling to walk this valley. I thought I knew this region, where I have lived and worked for years, but this spot was missing and it was quite surprising to "discover" it (thanks Freya).
We were there in late Autumn, there was few or no water in the first 20 kms (we had suffered 2 years of droughts) but the valley with its oaks, pine-trees, big rocks, fresh air and beautiful landscapes made us feel like we were so distant from "civilization". Even mobiles frequently couldn't reach any signal. Lucky us! I strongly recommend this track which, by the way, I haven't completed yet.

Juliette ~ October 2019
Hiked day 5 from Sangemil to Ferreiros do Dão.

Dear Freya,
I loved walking the Caminho do Dão with you. It has been a very special adventure. The Dão valley is so beautiful and the landscapes around so different every time you get a little further. Canyon like rocky borders and grassy meadows, never a dull moment. It's a relatively small river but its water gives life, and this is evident when you look around you while walking. Even after the dry summer there is still a lot of green to be seen and the river is still flowing, though with less force then in the spring. So important for flora and fauna. The villages are inviting and genuine in this part of Portugal, the people you meet are extremely kind and helpful.  When can I go again? 🙂
Love Juliette

Nadine van Schie ~ May 2019
Walked the first full Caminho do Dão.

It started as a quest. A quest for what walking could mean for me. Away from everything, from the hectic life to silence and doing things at a slower pace. Often I look at the caminho from above and I can still see myself walking. Through this beautiful valley with beautiful nature and its friendly people.

From its origin to its mouth in the Mondego. A clear goal but with a certain endlessness. After all, the flowing water does not end anywhere, it constantly mixes and merges into a larger whole. The Dão takes you along, teaches you to move with its flow.

It was a great pleasure to walk this walk with Freya. Not only does she know the Portuguese culture and language, but she also knows a lot about the valley, its history and the flora and fauna. In addition to her knowledge, she will also take you along in her love for this environment and she knows how to convey this in such a way that the Dão and its valley become a part of you and I am grateful to her for that.