Frequently asked questions
THE TOUR EXPERIENCE
What sights will we visit?
None, actually, at least none that you will find in the guidebooks: This tour is about more than sightseeing and "ticking boxes"... It's about experiencing. What we will experience is a pristine natural wild, up-close, hands-on and using all out senses.
Where does the trip take place?
All of my trips bring us to the secret, far-off-corners of the Algarve's protected Western coastline, the Costa Vicentina Coast Natural Park, in the regions of Sagres, Vila do Bispo, Carrapateira, and Aljezur. Each trip is handcrafted from scratch beforehand, using a map and my imagination, so the exact locations are unknown, even to me, until just before the tour begins :) This is part of what turns the tour into a real journey, and makes it so much... for you, and for me.
Can you tell me more about the experience?
Part of the joy of this experience is that there is a bit of mystery to it... So, let go of your need to know and plan, and follow me for this very special journey full of surprises... you will not be disappointed.
If you really want more info to help you decide about this tour, then just send me a quick message and I'll be happy to provide details :)
I've already been to the West coast... will this be new for me?
Yes! I guarantee that we will go places you have not already been, and would not find on you own, or with any other tour, or else you can have your money back. There is no chance of overlapping or repeating experiences. This will be something entirely new, promise.
A group tour? I have to spend the day with a bunch of strangers?
Yes, and this is part of the fun :) My small-group tours are designed to build a shared team-building experience that is better together than alone. We will begin as strangers, turn into teammates, and grow into friends.
Who will the other guests be?
My guests come from every corner of the globe, but a majority come from Europe and North America. Pretty much all speak some English. Some have lots of experience in the outdoors, others have none. The average age is 20-40, but adults of all ages are welcome and encouraged. Private tours are for anyone and everyone!
Why do we return so late? Can we get back earlier? [Classic Tour]
On my Classic Tour, we get back to Lagos about 2.5 hours after the sun sets, or anywhere from 9:00pm to 11:30pm, depending on the time of year. Staying out late, under the stars, after everyone else has gone home, is a crucial part of what makes this experience so special and unique.
Specifically, we get home late because: a) we stay out for the sunset, b) the sun sets at about 9:00pm in summer, c) we eat our dinner
after the sunset, d) we finish the experience under stars, and e) we have a 40 minute drive back to Lagos afterward.
Add all this up, and we get back a bit late. You'll understand the logic, and the magic, of this once you experience it :)
What will we eat?
The Classic Adventure: Dinner is a diverse spread of local Portuguese-style tapas, all home-made and hand-selected, friendly to all eaters including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Dishes range from grilled meats, to vegetables, beans, salads, cheeses, fruit, and various spreads, served with bread, wine, pastries and desert. Dishes are selected to reflect the local Western Algarve cuisine and culture as much as possible. Exact meals change with the season. Dinner under the stars is a highlight of the trip, you will enjoy!
The Wild Beaches Adventure: A smaller "snack" version of the Classic Adventure dinner, described above.
CHALLENGES & CONCERNS
How far will we hike?
The hikes are not of great distance: Usually around 6-12km. What is important here is quality, not quantity; not the length of hike, but the experience of traveling it.
How difficult is the hiking? Is it hard?
Despite the big day, you will find the experience is never strenuous or exhausting. We go at a relaxed pace, take plenty of breaks, spend lots of time resting, and are flexible to adapt to everyone's needs.
The potential challenges are also part of the fun: Uneven terrain, steep ascents, loose rocks, rugged, off-trail terrain, and maybe some "technical" bits that require using our for balance and upward mobility, like climbing over a big rock. If we use our hands, then hand-holds are plentiful, exposure is minimal, and I will be right there to help, if needed.
All "technical" parts are suitable for any beginner. As well, the most technical parts are optional, and you may choose to skip them while remaining with the group.
I am afraid of heights... will that be a problem?
The short answer is, almost surely no.
Being a little afraid of heights is perfectly fine and normal, and not a problem. Your heart might race in moments, but that's part of the fun!
If you feel afraid of heights, then the only requirement is that you have an adventurous spirit, a positive attitude, and the desire to (potentially, optionally) push your comfort zone at times. Adventure begins where comfort zone ends :)
If you are really "terrified" of heights, then you should simply let me know ahead of time, and we will take precautions together to keep you feeling comfortable and secured.
However, if you have a true phobia of heights; get scared just thinking about heights; if heights can paralyze you or send you quickly into panic or dizzy-ness; if standing even a few meters away from a cliff might cause you significant stress or discomfort... then you might find this tour is not right for you.
I'm a bit older... Is this tour for me?
My tours are designed to be accessible to a wide range of people, and I take plenty of people in their 50's and 60's. However, the older you are, the more confident you should be that you are healthy and fit for your age, and ready for an active day outside.
Generally speaking: If you have a regular exercise routine; are capable of some sustained exercise; can still play a good game of tennis or hike a proper mountain; and/or if you have lots of previous outdoor experience, then you will love the experience! The most important thing is that you have the spirit for adventure and the ability to take on a potential challenge with a smile.
A full-day hike? That seems like a lot...
Don't worry, we are not hiking the whole time. Total hiking time for my Classic Tour is about 4.5 hours, spread out over the whole day. The rest of the time is spent relaxing, driving, learning, listening, watching the waves, enjoying the views, swimming in the ocean, eating dinner, sharing stories, looking at maps, watching the stars, enjoying the sunset, and much much more. Hiking is just our mode of transportation for a much bigger experience.
Is it dangerous?
This is an outdoor adventure, not an extreme sport. I've taken almost 5,000 guests over 7+ years of guiding in the Algarve without incident: You have nothing to worry about.
Of course, anytime you go into the outdoors, you expose yourself to inherent hazards and risks. I manage these risks with the upmost care and professional responsibility, but the only way to eliminate them completely is to simply stay at home.
Although I plan never to have to use it, I am prepared to handle any medical situation in the backcountry. I am trained and have multiple professional and up-to-date certifications in Wilderness First Response, Wilderness First Aid, and CPR from the industry-leading International Wilderness Medicine School.
Will we be swimming? What's that like?
Potentially, but it's always optional, and we only go if the conditions are right. However, all swimming is done on beaches without lifeguards or facilities and care must be taken.
I am pregnant. Will that be a problem?
As long as you feel that you still have normal-good balance, coordination, range of motion, and stamina, then you will be just fine. Much of this will depend on your particular pregnancy, how advanced you are, and what your level of physical fitness it.
I have lots of information elsewhere (above) regarding what to expect from the tour, and basically those same things will apply to you if you're pregnant.
I've taken plenty of women in their 1st and 2nd trimesters, and they do great. If you're in your 3rd trimester (7-9 months), then it might start to become challenging, and you should consider carefully, and ask me for more information.
I do not speak English / não falo inglês / no hablo inglés / ne parle pas anglais...
This tour is conducted in English, and is best experienced with a basic understanding of English. You do not need to speak fluently, however, but a basic understanding will be very helpful and will enhance the experience.
If you speak no English at all, then the tour will be very different for you: you might be unable to talk with me or the other guests, and you will miss a lot of the stories and learning about the history and nature.
However, the landscapes always speak for themselves, and adventure is a universal language, so you can still enjoy the experience even with minimal or no english.
BOOKING & PRICES
What is the Booking process?
Booking is easy.
- Step 1: You fill out the
Booking Request form.
- Step 2: I respond by email to confirm the date you requested.
- Step 3: You pay a 1/2 deposit.
- Step 4: I respond with the final details, and we're ready to go!
What is the cancellation policy?
Group tours: The deposit is fully refundable up to 1 week in advance of the tour and non-refundable after that.
Private tours: The deposit is fully refundable up to 2 weeks in advance, and non-refundable after that.
Large group private tours (over 8 people): The deposit is fully refundable up to 1 month in advance and nonrefundable after that.
How early should I book?
I am a tiny company, and space is very limited. In the summertime they usually sell out, sometimes weeks in advance, sometimes days, sometimes hours, sometimes not at all. The best way to assure you get a spot on a tour is to book as early as you can. At least a week or two in advance is recommended, but you can always try last minute and see if you get lucky!
What payment methods do you accept?
For the deposit: Credit card, PayPal, or bank transfer.
For the remaining: Cash is preferable, but any method will do, paid after the tour.
What months do you operate?
Generally, from April through October, but every year is different, so please enquire.
What's the price?
Just see the "Details" section of each tour page to find the price.
Your tour is expensive... do you offer discounts?
See here for more on that.
Do you provide transportation?
I provide transportation starting from and returning back to Lagos. Transportation is provided in my comfy, classic Volkswagon van, named "Mo."
I'm not staying in Lagos... can I still join the tour? How do I get there?
If you are staying East of Lagos: You will need to get to/from Lagos on your own.If you have your own car, that's easy. If not, then here are links to find train and bus times. Taxis and Uber are also available. A good price estimate for taxi and Uber is about €1 per km traveled.
Note: For my Classic Tour, public transport will no longer be running after the tour ends, so you will need your own car, or a taxi/Uber.
If you are staying West of Lagos: You can either meet me in Lagos, or in the town of Vila Do Bispo, on the West Coast near to Sagres, 30 minutes West of Lagos. We will arrange this when you book.
How do I get home after the tour?
If you are staying in Lagos, then I can drop you home after the tour.
If you are staying East of Lagos, then I will bring you back to Lagos and you will need to find your own transportation home, by taxi or hired car.
How do I get to Lagos from Lisbon, or vice-versa?
1) Bus: 4 hours, €20. See schedule and buy tickets here. Bus is nice because it is direct: Get on in Lisbon, get off in downtown Lagos.
2) Train: 3.5 hours, €28. See schedule and buy tickets here. Train is more comfortable and more scenic than bus, but also more expensive and not direct: It requires an change-over at the Tunes station (which is easy).
3) Car hire, quick way: If you hire a car, you can drive down in less than 3 hours on the toll road. Tolls are heavy, about €25 each way. When you hire/rent the car, it's easiest to get the "transponder" or the little device that auto-pays the tolls.
4) Car hire, scenic way: Alternatively, you can drive the scenic route to the Algarve along the coastal road, and avoiding the tolls. This takes about 4.5 hours if you drive straight... But this is also a great road trip, and there are countless little towns, beaches, and places to explore along the way. You could easily spend a whole day, or several days, driving this route. It's beautiful!
Where is the pick-up/meeting point?
We meet in a small residential parking lot just outside Lagos city center. Exact details will be given after booking.
If you are staying West of Lagos, we can also meet in the town of Vila do Bispo, near to Sagres.
What do I need to bring on the tour
The Classic Adventure: You do not need anything special. As well, I have extras of most important items (like jackets, backpacks, etc) which you can borrow. I will provide you with a list of “What to Bring” after you book, but it’s very straightforward: Basically: shoes, warm clothing, snacks and water :)
A Multi-day Adventure: I will provide all the camping, sleeping, and cooking equipment that we need. All you need to bring is appropriate clothing. Most likely, you have all the necessary items in your closet already, and most of it you were planning to bring to Portugal, anyway. I will provide you with a detailed list of “What to Bring” after you book, including a list of items that you can borrow from me, if needed (I have extras of almost everything).
What happens if the weather is bad?
All weather is good weather for an adventure! Rain softens the landscape, clouds enhance the atmosphere, and wind intensifies the drama. So, we go in all conditions.
Don't worry! In summer it hardly rains at all, and in the Spring and Autumn it's rarely enough to be a bother.
Rain jackets are provided if needed, just in case :)
Is it too hot in summer to be hiking all day?
Actually, not all! The West coast of the Algarve is a totally different climate zone than Lagos and the rest of the region. It is always cooler and windier, and heat is rarely a concern, even on the hottest days. You will be surprised how cold it gets, even in summer! By sundown, it will be perfectly pleasant or even cold, even in August.
What happens if the weather is relaly bad?
A tour will never be cancelled beforehand due to bad weather. We do not rely on weather forecasts but always go see the "live" weather before making any decision.
This is because...
1) The weather on the West Coast can be completely different than in Lagos, so a rainy day here might be a sunny one out there.
2) The weather on the West Coast is notoriously difficult to predict, so the only thing to do is go see it with our own eyes.
3) The weather on the West Coast can change in the blink of an eye, from rainy to sunny or vice versa, so cancelling a tour preemptively would be folly.
So, no matter what the weather seems, the tour will begin. We will drive out to assess the situation in person, and make the best of whatever Nature throws at us.
It's very rare, but in the event that a tour must be cut short due to very bad weather, we will give some money back accordingly.
Is there an age restriction?
In order to create the best experience, group tours are designed for adults 16+ only.
If you have a family with younger kids, ask about a
Private Tour instead. This way, I can customize the tour to appeal to both young and old(er) and create an awesome adventure just for you.
Why are the group tours for adults only?
Young kids simply have different interests, attention spans, physical abilities, safety liabilities, and much more... Group dynamics and social interactions are important elements of the tour experience, and so an age limit helps to assure that everyone in the group is on the same page, and a better group tour experience can be had for all. Also, we stay out late, drink wine, etc. It's just an adult experience.
TIPS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Can you recommend a place to stay?
I can recommend a few places to stay based on my own personal experience. These are places I would send my own friends and friendly to. All are simple, clean, beautiful, friendly, intimate, and with a great location and moderate price. It's not an exhaustive list: There are lots of nice places in Lagos.
-- For a Guesthouse / B&B: I can highly recommend 3 Marias Guesthouse, Farol B&B, or Casa a Sul.
-- For a small boutique hotel: The Casa a Beira Sol is a special place, with a beautiful garden and pool in a quiet location near to the beaches and 10 minutes walking from town. It's a hidden gem. You can also look at the slightly bigger, but still great Costa d'Orio, Dom Manuel, or Dom Dinis hotels.
-- For a hostel / something less expensive: For a clean, mature, non-party hostel, try Olive Hostel, Gold Coast Hostel, Racing Mackerel Hostel, or Tag Hostel. For an activities-based adventure and surfing hostel, the Bura Surfhouse cannot be beat: It's a little bit out of town, but has a beautiful pool, daily yoga and dinners, and more.
What should I do while I'm in Lagos?
Lagos is famous for it's coastline, which is full of cliffs, coves, and character. You cannot come to Lagos without experiencing the coastline, and I recommend seeing it from both land and sea. From land, you can walk around the clifftops, without a guide or even map, and see all the secret beaches, rock arches, views, and beautiful scenery. That will take anywhere from an hour for a quick stroll to a full afternoon for a bigger adventure.
Then, you should try to see the coastline from the water, as well, so you can go through all the caves and famous grottoes. A boat trip is the easiest way to do that. A kayak or paddle-board trip is the more immersive and hands-on, option, and allows you to go places you cant go in a big boat. A kayak trip can be booked anytime down by the waterfront, or for a paddle board trip I recommend Coastline Algarve for a more unique experience.
Then, you should stroll the back streets of the old town, heading away from the main tourist pedestrian drags and jsut get lost in the little old cobble stone streets, full of beautiful old painted houses, lots of interesting graffiti, and little secret squares and alleyways.
Reward yourself with a "cataplana" for dinner, a local specialty seafood stew.
Do you have Portugal travel recommendations?
The typical tourist path is
Porto (North, wine and food) to
Lisbon (center, capital city) to the
Algarve (south, beaches). This is a typical week long holiday. It's a good choice for a straightforward vacation, but there is so much more to Portugal if you want to get off the beaten path, especially if you have a bit more time and/or a car rented.
North, the birthplace of Portugal, is full of old roman cities and ruins and 1000 year old university towns, amazing architecture, etc. 45 minutes North of Porto is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe, I think, called Guimaraes. Above that you have a mountainous National Park area called Geres-Peneda, which is so nice, full of green hills and rocky mountains and waterfalls, and small stone villages tucked into the sides of mountains and valleys. This are is my favorite in Portugal (besides where I live, perhaps!). Below Porto, and below that Coimbra and Viseu, two old Roman university towns.
middle, you have the only big mountains of Portugal, the
Serra de Estrela, really beautiful. There is a place near there called
Piodão, a valley full of historic and traditional old stone villages and awesome landscapes where you can eat dishes with names like "old goat with wild rosemary." I love that area. Along the central coastline, going from Porto toward Lisbon, you have famous surf towns with huge waves and endless beaches.
Peniche are not to be missed. The Islands of
Berlingas off of Peniche are really cool. Near to Lisbon, the Natural Park of
Sintra is wild and beautiful. A visit to the palaces of Sintra is a must. The walled castle town of
Obidos is one of my favorite little spots in Portugal, for an afternoon.
South, you have first the region of
Alentejo, full of vineyards and castle towns.
Evora is beautiful (but super hot in the summer!) as well as the smaller town of
Mertola. For wine tasting, go to
Vila das Frades. In the way south, the
Algarve, there is a bit of all of this, and is famous and amazing for it's beaches and natural rugged beauty. Here is a video of where I live, in
Lagos, to give you a sense. The West coast of the Algarve is a national park and is especially wild and dramatic. You can look at my website to see what it looks like on the West coast of the Algarve. The middle part of the Algarve, between Lagos and Faro, is beautiful but much more touristy and developed, as well. East of Faro, on the way to Spain, is really nice, especially the islands off the coast of Olhao like
Culatra, and small towns like
This should get you started! Let me know if you have more specific questions. If you tell me how long oyu have, and what kind of experiences you are looking for, and what strikes your interest thus far, and I can help direct you to more specific places, like beach names, restaurants, etc.
What about food in Lagos?
Here are a few restaurants, cafes, and bars that you might not find on your own :) Enjoy!
Tasca da Jota -- Modern Portuguese cuisine, a rare find in Lagos. A thoughtfully crafted menu, daily tasting menu, and lots of delicious tapas. A short walk out of town, so away from the tourists. Great wine and service.
Casinha do Petisco -- My favorite traditional Portuguese restaurant. Has perhaps my two favorite dishes in all of Lagos: Their Cataplana (a special Algarve seafood stew) and House Prawns are both other worldly. Prepare to wait a bit to get in, but it is well worth it. Also a good place to go with someone, so you can share the amazing food.
O Escondidinho -- The name means "the little hidden spot," and that it is. Traditional Portuguese food (especially seafood!) in an old-school atmosphere, off the tourist track.
Barbosa -- Nice atmosphere, fusion menu, sometimes live music, and great cocktails. I love the risotto here.
Beats and Burritos -- Fresh Tex-Mex, with lovely service, daily changing menu items, homemade hot sauces and deserts, vegetarian/vegan friendly.
A Barrigada -- The only restauant on the fishing harbor, where the fish and seafood come straight from the boat. Old school place as popular with locals as tourists.
Bars and cafes:
Cervejeria Ferradura -- The Horseshoe Bar, an old-school Portuguese taverna serving tapas, cold beer, and a classic Iberian atmosphere.
Matobiche -- Classic Portuguese tapas bar and taverna, friendly service, great in warm weather when it spills out into streets.
Goji Bar Cafe -- Juices, smoothies, sandwiches and salads, under shady trees in a beautiful little square.
Goldig -- Vegan-ish cafe, but forget that: It's justa great cafe. Home made breads, jams, juices, and more, a daily changing "dish of the day," great coffee, and great location.
Mar d'Estorias -- Unbeatable, chic, sunny rooftop cafe.
The cafe at Praia Cabanas Velhas -- Just incredible food, on the beach, one of the best spots in the Algarve.