“The Estrela is the main mountain in mainland Portugal due to its mass and altitude. The largest element of the Central Mountain Range, is the Torre which is 1991 meters high. The Serra da Estrela NP (88.850 ha) has a varied landscape: ponds and high altitude pastures, peat bogs, oak and sweet chestnut woods, wood areas and production forests. Presence of granite and shale, countless remnants of the last glaciation, the springs of the Mondego, Alva and Zêzere, a veritable water castle dominating the Beiras and the seat of varied climatic facets. The vegetation is influenced by three climate types - Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental - distributed through three altitudinal stages, basal, intermediate and superior. The SENP fauna includes a large number of mammals and birds, notable for its importance and diversity, small reptiles and amphibians with endemic species such as the Iberian rock lizard. Essentially peripheral populations with some isolated habitation groups and interesting examples of the regional architecture. The mountain is the home of the "Estrela Mountain Dog", of the "Estrela Mountain Sheep", a race of sheep that excels in producing milk, and the famous "Estrela Mountain Cheese", trademark of the regional gastronomy.” in www.natural.pt
This wonderful natural reserve, called Natural Park of Serra da Estrela, has its limits just 12 km away from Chão do Rio and it is certainly the top attraction of the region. There, beyond the highest point in mainland Portugal and the abundant snow in winter, that enables skiing, it exhibits an extraordinary natural beauty. In all seasons it is possible to watch a great variety of flora and fauna, that are best known throughout the numerous trails that cross the park. As a challenge for the most resistant we recommended the trail that starts in Loriga and climbs up till the top of the highest point of Serra da Estrela (Torre), crossing the shepherds trail (around 18 km). Here, apart from the sloping rise, the scenery is breathtaking.
As a starting base for discovering the environmental heritage of Serra da Estrela, the visit to “Serra da Estrela Interpretation Center”, in Seia is mandatory. There you may start with a virtual expedition to the region, and learn all about its natural assets, or take a look back at the History of the region, all the information you will need to start exploring.