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Hiking, jumping into the cool water and watching griffon vultures

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The picturesque pond Pego da Rainha in the Ocreza Valley

This magical place lies in a lonely, dry side valley of the Ocreza River. Above the small pond hidden under trees, mighty rocks rise up into the sky. If you take a closer look at them, you’ll see some griffon vultures making elegant rounds up there.

Concentrated, he climbs up the rock face, metre by metre. He pauses on a ledge, straightens himself up, makes sure he has some spectators, waits another seemingly-endless moment and then plunges into the depths in exuberance.

Down in the valley itself, some springs arise. The back one feeds a strong stream, which winds through the narrow valley and forms a natural slide, now and then filling smaller swimming pools before it pours over a waterfall into the small lake. According to legend, this is exactly where the queen bathed with her maids.

The second spring is at the very front, where you can reach the lake by car or on foot. A metal pipe transports clear, cool water from the mountain, which our children drink with great enthusiasm and pour over their heads.

We visit this paradise on a hot day of 42 degrees and are therefore very grateful for the shady trees above the lake. Only a few other bathers have arrived before us, and they’re also enjoying the shade and the wonderfully cool water. 

Above the lake, there is a basic picnic area. Not far from that, water flows down a small rock wall covered with mosses and ferns. Next to it, there are some deeper basins in the cool stream. Our children observe different dragonfly species and water striders that have gathered here by the hundreds.

You can build small dams with your children in this area, wade through the beautiful stream and let branches float. Or take a swim in the pond itself. 

In the late afternoon, we observe a daring jumper leaping into the lake time after time from a height of 10 metres, using a special technique that prevents him from diving too deep. The lake is probably not very deep.

In the evening, a wonderfully warm wind sweeps through the valley. We walk slowly up the road to the car and enjoy the quiet natural surroundings with all our senses. The vultures are still doing a few laps above us and we drive back to Lisbon in an animated mood.

Just a few kilometres away in the Ocreza Valley, just before it flows into the Tejo, you can hike to a few Stone Age carvings, or you can take a relaxed look at them in the Archaeological Museum of Mação.

Directions:
Drive your own car on the A23 to Zimbreira and from there, take the dirt road, which is partly sign-posted with Pego da Rainha.

GPS (Parking area):
39.575499, -7.826369
You can drive down to the pond, but at the end you have to cross a river by car. We parked our car at the top of a small spring, and from there you can take a steeper path into the valley in 5 minutes and save yourself a long drive on unpaved roads.

Bring along:
Protective bathing shoes are highly recommended for relaxed bathing in the pond and brook. For young bathers who are not yet swimming, swimming wings are also useful.

Meals:
In the immediate vicinity, there is unfortunately nowhere to stop for refreshments, but there is an acceptable, simple picnic area in the shade. Therefore, we recommend that you bring delicious delicacies with you.

Scratch drawings:
The carvings are located near the motorway bridge that spans the Ocreza valley, below the dam and just before the mouth of the Ocreza into the Tejo. If you have older children, this hike might be right for you, leading both to the carvings and to the pond: www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/vale-do-ocreza-gravuras-rupestres-pego-da-rainha-castelo-velho-zimbreira-s-j-matas-7059858

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