Along the Spanish border to the south of Castelo Branco is the Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional.
This is a beautiful area noted for its birdwatching along the rivers of the region.
The Tejo Internacional Natural Park covers an area of Castelo Branco and Idanha-a-Nova, between the mountains of the Beiras region and the plains of the Alentejo.
Steep sided valleys provide a spectacular natural setting next to the River Tagus and its tributaries (Ponsul, Erges and Aravil), where around 154 bird species breed.
This is an excellent area for birdwatching. You can see colonies of black storks (the Park's symbol), eagles and eagle owls.
The agriculture of the region is very much pastoral and managed in a very traditional way.
Regional specialities are available from farms and local shops as edible souvenirs like honey, olive oil, homemade bread or cheeses, all made using traditional techniques.
The information office for the Tejo Internacional Natural Park is in Castelo Branco at:
Avenida 1 de Maio, 99 - 3 Esq - 6000-086 Castelo Branco. Tel.: 351 272 348 140 - Fax: 351 272 348 149. Email: email@example.com
The Naturtejo da Meseta Meridional Geopark stretches across an area encompassing the cities of Castelo Branco, Idanha-a-Nova, Nisa, Olerios, Proenca-a-Nova and Vila Velha de Rodao and includes the Tejo International Natural Park. The designation of Geopark aims to protect the area's geology while at the same time promoting the understanding of the geology alongside sustainable tourism.
500 million years ago the sea covered Castelo Branco, Idanha-a-Nova, Nisa, Oleiros, Proenca-a-Nova and Vila Velha de Rodao. Today a range of fossils have been found that show the sorts of animals that would have roamed the area but have since become extinct. The rivers flowing through the Park today unveil a very ancient landscape, made of wide plains and deep valleys through interestingly shaped mountains. For anyone interested in geology there are classic formations in the rocks all over the Geopark area. Throughout the Park is the most extensive network of trails in the country. Trails are broken down by themes, like fossils or rock art, and give an insight into the geological history of the earth, as well as human interaction with nature. Interpretive panels point the way to some of the most pristine wilderness. For more information check the Naturtejo website although it's only in Portuguese at the moment. There is a handy map though.
In nearby Monsanto Europe's first geo-restaurant has recently opened. The aim of the restaurant, Petiscos & Granitos, is to offer a dining concept inspired by the Geopark Naturtejo Park. It serves local foods, prepared using traditional methods, and food from Portuguese producers who have used earth-friendly methods. The restaurant itself was built with local materials, including giant blocks of local granite.
This is a great area where you can have a go at more active pursuits including walking and hiking, mountain climbing or canoeing.
Ludeventos is an outdoor activity and recreational centre in Castelo Branco offering equipment hire and adventure activities on Rua Dr. Jose Afonso Santos, Lote 110, 1 Esquerdo, Castelo Branco. 6000-217. Tel/Fax: 351 272 341 328. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check their website for more information.