Paradise in Portugal – A Perfect Retreat

If you are in looking for a break from the tourists, beaches and busy towns of the Algarve, Paradise in Portugal makes a wonderful retreat. Quinta do Barranco da Estrada is located on the shores of the Santa Clara Reservoir in southern Alentejo. This eco-friendly, family owned and operated lodge provides peace and relaxation accompanied by great food and hospitality. The owner Frank McClintock also operates professional birdwatching tours under the name Birding in Portugal.

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Signposts along the track to the Quinta.

If you are driving from the Algarve as we were, there are a number of routes to follow depending on your starting point. We chose the very winding and slow road through Monchique and across the hills on Route N266. Normally this is very scenic, however devastating forest fires in August turned much of the area into a blackened wasteland. Our drive provided us the opportunity to reflect on the devastation.

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Forest fires in the Monchique area raged for a week this past August

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Already new life is returning

If you are driving it is definitely worth taking some time for a short drive along the Mira River to the Barragem Santa Clara. One of the country’s largest reservoirs, the views from the dam are beautiful and we enjoyed a picnic in the late October sunshine. The small town of Santa Clara de Velha is also worth exploring for an hour or two.

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Looking north across the reservoir towards the Quinta

A few kilometres farther along is the start of dirt track into the Quinta. Winding over the hills through the cork oak forests this road provides excellent views across the surrounding area and farther to the north, the plains and hills of Alentejo. The sun was shining as we approached and the sparkling blue of the reservoir drew our attention.

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The first sight of the reservoir from the track

The Quinta has 8 double ensuite rooms as well as a Family Suite and a Honeymoon Suite. From the moment you step out of your car you are overwhelmed by absolute quiet and the verdant tranquility of the buildings and gardens perched on the hillside above the water’s edge. The rooms are all pleasant, well laid out and promote the laid back and restful nature of the Quinta.

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All the rooms face the water and overlook beautiful gardens

With its well-tended and lush gardens we felt a similarity to many tropical lodges but a glance across to the nearby hillsides brought us quickly back to Portugal.

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The water is extremely clean even at the end of the summer

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Two of the very friendly residents of the Quinta

In addition to birdwatching there are a selection of canoes, kayaks, rowboats, stand up paddle boards (SUP) and a small sail boat free for the use of all guests. We spent most of our second day on the water, particularly enjoying the SUPs and kayaks. The temperatures climbed into the mid 20s and the water was very pleasant for swimming – probably our last for the season.

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The two larger suites have their own balconies and offer additional privacy

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A recent addition is a large yoga deck overlooking the reservoir

Dinners (jantar in Portugal) at the Quinta are a group affair, and are hosted by Frank and his charming wife Daniela who does all of the cooking. Using all local ingredients the food was delicious and we thoroughly enjoyed all of our meals. We particularly enjoy Alentejo wines and there was an excellent selection available. A full continental style breakfast of homemade breads and croissants, cheeses, hams, fruit, granola and yogurt is included.

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The table set for “jantar”

With no televisions to be seen (or heard) the evenings and mornings were peaceful and amazing sunsets and sunrises were a perfect way to begin or end the day.

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Sunrise from our patio

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Walking the roads above the Quinta

We also appreciated that the Quinta operates entirely on solar power and actively promotes eco-friendly living in all of its operations. Many of the ingredients in the meals are grown in on-site gardens and a greenhouse.

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That’s Tim out there on the SUP – nobody else on the water

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A secluded pathway through the gardens

We spent two nights at the Quinta and after that short time we felt refreshed, relaxed and very appreciative of this corner of Portugal. We continue to search out opportunities to discover the more rural and laid back places in Southern and Central Portugal as short getaways from the relative bustle of the larger and more well-known towns where we spend a lot of our time.

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The day was perfect for kayaking and swimming

If you are looking for a few days of relaxtion, or want to do some serious birding, we’d recommend checking out Paradise in Portugal. You’ll be treated like family, well fed and unless you crave noisy distractions you will leave with a sense of peace and contentment.

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A perfect ending to a wonderful day

About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
This entry was posted in Portugal, Slow Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Paradise in Portugal – A Perfect Retreat

  1. The whole place looks absolutely glorious! Lovely photos.
    Alison

    Like

  2. Jen Hall says:

    Loved the gardens and water photos, guys. So happy for you both!
    Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe says:

    This looks like a fun and beautiful getaway from the development of the coast. It doesn’t look too far from Portimão, and you seemed to have the place all to yourself. Nice find!

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We met the owner through some birding questions and he turned us on to the place. It’s about 1.5 hours from Portimao and a super place to chill for a couple nights. Our place here in Portimao is very quiet but relatively noisy compared to the peacefulness up there. Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joe says:

        Hi Tim & Anne, We are looking to stay in the Algarve between 21 September and 21 October 2019. We will have a car for most of that time. To try to be central along the coast to explore the region, we are starting to look for rental apartments between Albufeira and Portimão. We would rather not be in the cities so we are thinking about someplace like Carvoeiro or Armação de Pera. What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      • timannehall says:

        Hi Joe. That’s a good time of year, this year it was still quite warm well into October. There are still plenty of tourists but not huge crowds. If you have a car either of those places would work. Armacao de Pera has a nice beach and one nice street along the water, but many rather ugly apartment blocks behind it. There are some nice beach
        and dune walks in the area you can go to by foot. Carvoeiro is small and quaint but be careful as many of the apartment blocks are right on the main street and can be noisy. There are great cliff walks in either direction to Praia da Marinha and Ferragudo. Both have plenty of restauarants. In your search you can also try Ferragudo or Alvor. Alvor has a nice older downtown with many restaurants and a great beach and marsh/dune walk although the edges of it have many apartments and hotels. Ferragudo is a cute village with restaurants in the centre. It is across the river from Portimao. With any of these it will depend on the building or location but there should be plenty of choice. Hope this helps and hopefully we’ll get to meet up this time around. Tim & Anne

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Joe says:

    Thank you, Tim & Anne. We really appreciate your advice. We will look into Ferragudo and Alvor, and let you know what we come up with. All the best, Joe & Esther

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  5. This is a lovely retreat and your photos are beautiful. Thanks for the intro to this quiet retreat. Anita

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jean Macfarlane McNaughton-Pulley says:

    I can certainly see myself at that wonderful retreat!!! Thanks a million for all your posts. Love to both of you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BeckyB says:

    The Quinta sounds fabulous . . .just checked it out to see if we could visit during our forthcoming Alentejo adventure, but they are not open in the winter months! Never mind will keep it in mind for another time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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