Portugal and the ACT (Adventure Country Tracks) TrailMotorcycle Diaries
It can sometimes be tough to decide where to ride as you travel around the world, knowing you can’t see everywhere, and what kind of terrain to ride too.
What I was looking for was to be able to see the real Portugal, away from all the tourist areas, only visit small towns and villages and preferring to see tiny small back roads both paved and dirt.
I was looking to stay in small villages, interact with locals, eat local food, pay local prices not tourist prices.
…but the question is do you just ‘freestyle’ a route or use some tracks from someone who actually knows where they are going, I decided on the latter.
I found out about Adventure Country Tracks, ACT from a post on instagram and did a little research, and they seemed to have a route that fitted everything I was after.
The route started in the northern city of Bragança and headed south for around 1250km’s using about 65% dirt tracks, and traversing through little villages along the way.
It is broken up in to 5 days of tracks of varying length per day to match the terrain. They have set the route up in a way they suggest places to stay either camping or hotels, but of course this is your prerogative where you sleep. I personally just used it as a reference point to be able to plan where I would be at the end of the day and see what options were available.
Right from leaving the first morning at the very start of the route at the top of the hill by the Castle of Bragança, it just felt it was going to be a good ride. Halfway through the first day I knew it would be. The routes were slightly challenging in places, the views were terrific across the local countryside…and somehow when I felt like a I needed a break from the dirt, it happened, they routed to pavement like they were reading my mind.
When I felt hungry, magically the route went into a small town or village, it was like they were reading my mind again, setting up a route exactly how I would have.
Enough of a challenge to make it testing and fun, but not too crazy that end of the day you were contemplating looking for something easier to ride, no not at all, it left you wanting more.
Day 1 was routed to you to Torre de Moncorvo, the route was fun with a few challenges thrown in, descents that made you use your off-road skills controlling your downhill speed, and twisting pavement every rider will love
Day 2 seemed a little tougher to me, maybe I was just tired or maybe it was, accents and descents in the dirt were a regular occurrence and a little more challenging with a good amount of loose rock on the surface.
Day 3 was my only interaction with mass tourism, as I passed Belver Castle on a Saturday afternoon there were inevitably large crowds on a perfect summer day, I moved on vowing to come back when it’s a little quieter.
The mountains had retreated now to rolling hills and the highlight of the day really was an early arrival in Moura and I treated myself to a night in the Moura Hotel, a beautiful colonial building with great rooms and facilities for a very reasonable price, and just a short walk to some very picturesque little cobbled streets.
I really didn’t want this day to come as it meant I was coming to the end of a great ride in a new country, the tracks were faster now and elevation was dropping to sea level and as the ride ended on the beach on the south coast I felt accomplishment of a great ride and happy I made the choice to use this route.
From the mountains in the north and then slowly lowering in elevation day by day to Portugals southern coast and reaching the beach in Cacela Velha it was all fantastic, but I must admit I had perfect riding conditions and temperatures too.
It’s a difficult challenge to make a great route when there are so may options to ride and places to see, but for me ACT absolutely nailed this route and was easily one of the most enjoyable and fun rides I have done in a long time, and I recommend it highly.
Also, the great thing is if you want to exit the track at anytime just open the Motorcycle Diaries website and there are hundreds of other rides close by…you just can’t lose!