New eco-tourism activity in the Dão valley: The Caminho do Dão ~ a nature pilgrimage from the source to the mouth of the Dão river.
This spring, between the 1st and 7th and May, the first group will set foot on the Caminho do Dão and cover the 120km length of the Dão valley. In 2019 the expedition was made to define the best route and the first edition should happen in 2020 but it had to be canceled. Now in 2021 the work of love of the guide and creator of this tourist activity, Freya van Dien will finally come true. Since she became manager and resident of Moinho do Dão-Eco Quinta in 2013 she had a desire to walk and get to know the whole river. She also saw the potential to develop an activity in the Dão valley with a dual purpose: to enhance the natural and cultural heritage and at the same time raise awareness of the current degree of degradation of this heritage.
Along the route of Caminho do Dão the landscape tells a story about the 21st century and the ways in which it is shaped by the current social, economic and climatic reality. It tells a story about how nature thrives, survives and struggles and about the many different ways people interact with the land and use the soil. As a fellow guide said about the route: I think it is an interesting experience of romance and reality.
The project is the sum of: awareness of the social and environmental situation in the valley, the rich layers of meanings and symbolisms of a river that has the name Dão and a belief in empowerment through the act of walking. The experience that Caminho do Dão intends to provide is that of a pilgrimage which can generate a feeling of connection with the world, with ourselves and of peace and regeneration, just by walking. Dão is a conjugated form of the verb to give: they give. Additionally ‘O Dão’ is the same as ‘O Tao’, which literally means ‘the way’, being an oriental philosophy based on the idea of the interconnectedness of life. Last but not least, a river is historically considered a symbol of life.
In addition to being an interesting experience for visitors, O Caminho do Dão also aims to be of value to local communities. One of the goals of the trail is to give strength to a feeling of connection between the local community and the valley, and in this way, contribute to the general well-being (pride and sense of belonging) of the people who live in the valley. If the trail is valued by both visitors and inhabitants, it can help to increase regional efforts to enhance and safeguard the natural and cultural qualities of the valley, which is one of the main objectives of this project in the Dão valley.
The trail can initially be experienced as a group walking program and, in the future, it will also be offered in a package, including maps with the route and / or GPS coordinates, overnight stays and meals.
For more information about Caminho do Dão visit www.caminhododao.org