From Malaga to Porto by TET and ACT

Day 17

Breakfast was the same as the hotel – great!

We hit the road at 9:01am, got to do 1.5 legs of the ACT.

Offroad starts right away. Every day has a symbol, today it’s wind turbines and snow.

The route quickly takes us to the ridge where we pass dozens of wind turbines and see hundreds of them on the surrounding hills. These whizzing propellers dominate the impression of this morning. Fast gravel roads (created for the construction and servicing of the power stations), but with some quite treacherous fine gravel in places. These roads occasionally turn into somewhat wilder rocky and clay mountain roads surrounded by heather and other varied vegetation. We stop at a viewpoint of waterfalls (the highest is 15m, but there were a lot of steps to descend to get to it. Peter went there to have a look, I “guarded” the motorbikes. 

Shortly before noon we arrive at the Serra da Estrella mountain range, on whose peaks we could already see snow from afar. The landscape takes on a high mountain character – low vegetation, large boulders, rocks. There is more snow along the way. Shortly before the summit we turn off the ACT route, as it (somewhat incomprehensibly) skips the highest part. We, however, conquer the Torre peak. At 1993m it is the highest mountain in mainland Portugal. At the top we are shocked – not only by the amount of visitors (it’s Sunday, so we could still understand), but mainly by what they are doing here.  Sledging and skiing! There’s even a cable car! In the words of a classic: “Well, I really didn’t expect that!”.

After taking photos of the bikes and celebrating the summit conquest, I leave the summit over large rocks that I completely missed. I almost give it my all, but put my bike away on the last one for the amusement of the crowds. Then it’s back to the ACT route. Or even TET, as the two routes intersect many times today. We stick to the ACT, but it’s not free. Today, it is estimated that more than 2/3 of it is off-road. 

Around 1:00pm, we finish Stage 3 of the ACT and decide to smoothly follow up as far as possible with Stage 4 (day 2 of the usual ACT route). We stuff ourselves with pizza for lunch and roll on, over hills, past more power plants, up beautiful slopes of fairly barren mountains, past romantic lakes and wild canyons.

I wanted to write something about ford crossings, but the only one of note today was so big that we meekly turned around and went around it. 

Today we finally meet some bikers. We were surprised a lot by the heads of two girls riding with (small) ACT luggage (in the opposite direction). One on a Tenere 700 and the other on a CRF. This is the third time we’ve met someone on a TET or ACT in 14 days. They wanted to talk, but ours was a bit pressed for time.

At the end of the trip we visit 2 more high points. First we go up Marofa hill (976m) with its transmitters, church and a large statue of Christ. From here we can see our stage destination for today – the town of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo (on Christ’s left) and the historic town of Castelo Rodrigo (on the right). With about an hour to go before dark, we decide to drive through the historic town. We meet another biker there today, a Spaniard on a KTM Adventure 890R. He says he made the trip from Braganza to here today. This fills us with optimism because this is exactly what we intend to ride tomorrow before the weather definitely gets worse.

We are still washing the bikes in Figueira, looking for an apartment for a while and then we are quietly trotting through today’s very difficult day. 

(313 km, Borboleta Guest House, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo)

Route 17. I am not providing a GPX download because ACT routes are only available to ACT club members.

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