Answers to all your questions
What sights will we visit?
None, actually, at least not in any traditional sense. We will not visit any place that you will find in the guidebooks: Instead, we will be deep in the natural wilderness of the coastline, up-close, hands-on and using all out senses. To visit the "sights" you'll have to join a sightseeing tour, or visit on another day :)
Where does the trip take place?
We will journey to the far-off-corners of the Algarve's West coast, the Costa Vicentina Coast Natural Park, in the regions of Sagres, Vila do Bispo, Carrapateira, and Aljezur. Each trip is handcrafted from scratch, so the exact locations are unknown, even to me, until just before the tour begins :)
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. There is no chance of overlapping or repeating experiences. This will be something entirely unique, guaranteed.
A group tour? I have to spend the day with a bunch of strangers?
Yup, and this is part of the fun! My small-group tours are designed to build a shared team-building experience, an experience that is better together than alone. We will begin as strangers, turn into teammates, and grow into friends.
What will the other guests be like?
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 outdoor experience, 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!
CHALLENGES & CONCERNS
How far will we hike?
The hikes are not of great distance: Usually around 6-12km. What is important is quality, not quantity; not the length of trail, 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 hands and whole bodies for balance and mobility.
All "technical" parts are suitable for any beginner in good health and fitness.
I am afraid of heights... will that be a problem?
The short answer is, almost surely no.
Being afraid of heights is perfectly fine and normal, and not a problem. The only requirement is that you have an adventurous spirit, a positive attitude, and the desire to (potentially) expand 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; if you 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.
How to know if this is right for you? 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. Then, we spend 1.5 hours enjoying the sunset, dinner, and stargazing, 1.5 hours in transportation, and the rest exploring, relaxing, playing, learning, laughing, and more.
Is it dangerous?
This is an outdoor adventure, not an extreme sport. I've guided over 5,000 guests hiking 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 stay at home.
I am prepared to handle most medical situations 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, or book a Private Tour, where I can customize the experience to meet your abilities.
Why do we return so late? Can we get back earlier?
Staying out late, under the stars, beside the sea, surrounded by shadows and sounds, is a magical and unique part of the experience.
On my Classic Adventure, we get home about 2.5 hours after the sunset, or anywhere from 9:00 to 11:30pm, depending on the time of year.
This is because: a) we stay out for the sunset, b) the sun sets as late as 9:00pm in summer, c) we eat our dinner after the sunset, d) we finish our day under stars, and e) we have a 40 minute drive back to Lagos.
BOOKINGS & PRICES
What is the Booking process?
- You: Click "Go West!" and fill out the Booking form.
- Me: I respond by email to confirm your date.
- You: Pay a deposit online.
- Me: I respond with the final tour details, and we're ready to go!
What is the cancellation policy?
The deposit is fully refundable up to 2 weeks in advance of the tour and non-refundable after that.
How early should I book?
I am a tiny company, and space is very limited. In the summertime my tours 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 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 the tour page to find the price.
Your tour is expensive... what's the deal?
See here for more on that.
Do you offer any discounts?
See here for more on that.
TRAVEL & LOGISTICS
What do I need to bring on the tour?
You do not need anything special. I will provide you with a list of “What to Bring” after you book, but it’s very easy. Basically: shoes, warm clothing, snacks and water.
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."
Where is the pick-up/meeting point?
We meet 15 minutes walk outside Lagos city center, in a small residential parking lot. If you are staying West of Lagos, we can also meet that direction, in Vila do Bispo. Exact details will be given after booking
I'm not staying in Lagos... can I still join the tour? How do I get there?
Of course! Here are the options:
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 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.
If you are staying near Luz or Bensafrim: You should come meet me in Lagos , but I can drop you back off at your residence after, if you want.
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 way to get 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!
5) Check out my friend Fabio at Heaps of Tours for an awesome, scenic Lisbon-Lagos transfer with sightseeing along the way.
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.
Will we get our money/deposit back in case of bad weather?
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 with our own eyes.
This is because...
1) The weather on the West Coast is 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.
3) The weather on the West Coast changes very quickly, from rainy to sunny or vice versa.
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.
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!
Is the food vegetarian/vegan/gluten friendly?
Yes! The food that I prepare will be delicious for everyone but the most picky eaters :) It is mostly vegetarian, and is very friendly for vegan and gluten-free eaters, as well.
Is the tour only in English?
Yes, the tour is conducted only in English. I can speak some Portuguese and Spanish, but the entire tour will be conducted in English.
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 some 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.
Can my kids go adventuring?
In order to create the best tour experience, group tours are designed for adults, and are for 17+ 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
Where should I 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 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 an activities-based adventure and surfing hostel, with a pool, yoga, nightly dinners, and a social (but non party) atmosphere, the Bura Surfhouse cannot be beat. For a clean, mature, quiet hostel, try Olive Hostel, Gold Coast Hostel, Racing Mackerel Hostel, or Tag Hostel.