Zêzere river glacier valley aka The Glacier. This vein that crosses Serra da Estrela natural park, is a jewl. One of the largest in Europe (13km long), it is a gift of nature and a living paiting. This route will take you from Seia, through Senhora do Desterro and Lagoa Comprida dam, up to Estrela's peak. Have a cup of coffee at the top and prepare to get down. During the descent you will cross the glaciar valley, always with the Zêzere river's crystal clear waters to your left. Just after the village of Manteigas, you will climb 17km through switchbacks and beautiful native forest, in arguably the most scenic climb of all. Once you reach the top, a mellow descent will take you back to Seia.
The first climb through Senhora do Desterro has virtually no traffic and this is why we like it, althought the tarmac is not in perfect conditions in some sections. Another alternative, with very good tarmac, is to climb directly from Seia to the village of Sabugueiro. Both alternatives meet 2km before Lagoa Comprida dam. Lagoa comprida is the largest water reservoir of Serra da Estrela. It was a former glaciar lake about 1km long. A dam was built in 1911.
29 Km | Altitude: 1990m - Torre (Serra da Estrela's highest point) and plateau
You have reached the top! Torre is the highest point of mainland Portugal and, once you reach the 2 radar towers, with their golden spherical domes, you will know you're there. Torre is also the end point of the epic Vide to Torre HC climb and Covilhã do Torre HC climb. Continue forward to get down. Shortly after beginning the descent, the carved statue of Senhora da Boa Estrela will be on your left, and it is always an impressive sight. Short after the rock tunnel and a couple of hairpins, you will reach an intersection: turn left to cross the glaciar valley and head towards Manteigas. It's a sweeet descent!
50 Km | Altitude: 740m - Manteigas Village
Manteigas is a true mountain village, located in the heart of the natural park. If you are not in a hurry, put your foot down and explore. A very interesting tour can be done to a Burel factory: Burel is a Portuguese handmade fabric, made of 100% organic wool. For more info visit these websites and be amazed: Ecolã and Burelfactory. The climb after Manteigas is a sequence of never ending swichtbacks, with a soft gradient, through a beautifull forest. The vegetation will start to change above 1200m, from oaks and chestnuts to pine trees.
69 Km | Altitude: 1430m - Vale do Rossim
Vale do Rossim lake is most definitely worth the small detour, as it is one of the most beautiful lakes of the natural park. Take off your shoes and cool off!