In recent years the number of people traveling has been rising and the importance of concepts such as sustainable tourism has become an urgent reality. A few years ago, traveling was not within the reach of most people, but nowadays it is easier to travel on a limited budget.
If on the one hand, the increase in the number of travelers has strengthened globalization, increased the knowledge that people have about other cultures and remote locations, and contributed to the development of the places, on the other hand has been wearing down the environment and increasing the ecological footprint of mankind, decreasing the quality of life of local populations and increasing the living cost.
When we travel, we must all be aware of the impact we are having and how we can improve the places we visit. The simple act of buying in traditional commerce and contributing to the sustainability of local economy, using environmentally friendly products, reducing the use of plastic or using environmentally friendly means of transportation help in not leaving the places we visit worn out.
We visited Chão do Rio, a rural tourism unit, in the village of Travancinha, near Seia, right next to Serra da Estrela. Here the concept is of village tourism that, in symbiosis with nature and with the local community, intends to make that place a corner away from the confusion, the pollution and a sanctuary of protection of nature.
In recent years, the concepts of sustainable and responsible tourism have been reinforced. But what are these concepts?
What is Sustainable and Responsible Tourism
Sustainable and responsible tourism is one that can provide positive travel experiences, meeting the needs of travelers, but also respecting the environment and the context of the places we visit.
It is about managing resources in a controlled way to ensure the satisfaction of travelers’ needs by ensuring cultural integrity and economic and environmental sustainability, not blocking the creation of opportunity in the future.
Sustainable tourism includes initiatives such as controlling visitor numbers in protected areas, adopting policies to protect the environment, and adopting policies that guide travelers to consume local products and interact with local communities.
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Chão do Rio
Chão do Rio is a rural tourism unit in the village of Travancinha, near Serra da Estrela, which has received the BIOSPHERE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM Certification. In that corner of the world, you breathe fresh air, you can feel the symbiosis with nature and the respect for the environment.
Rodolfo and Catarina fell in love with that place and have since made it more and more their own. There they have taken root and from a couple of lovers in love with the place, they have become a family, because only there they feel whole.
To help make this place special for those who visit it, they have joined with the people from the village, who are now their team, ready to welcome all friendly and warmingly
The Chão do Rio team will welcome you in a very hospitable way, for the simplicity and authenticity, creating an ideal place in symbiosis with nature, providing smiles, happiness and inspiring and ambitioning for a better future, making tourism more responsible and sustainable.
Chão do Rio consists of 6 stone houses and thatched roofs. Each with its personality, for the details inside, makes us feel good there, without feeling that we are attacking the surrounding environment.
You can check more about Chão do Rio and make your reservation here.
Our house was Churra, and when we arrived, we were accompanied by Sofia, who received us and gave us all the explanations about Chão do Rio, the house and the area.
It was early spring, but the temperature was still low, so we had the fireplace on when we entered. The house has a kitchen with all the necessary equipment to prepare meals and a fridge, a sitting area to enjoy the fireplace, a full bathroom, and a very cozy bedroom on the first floor. On the kitchen table was a basket of regional mouth-watering products that also included eggs from the chickens raised there. We were informed that at 5:00 PM the baker would leave the freshly baked bread hanging from the door. We took advantage of it to have a snack at the fireplace as soon as the bread arrived.
The balcony of each house has a hammock and a table facing a central area to all the houses where there are an organic pool and relaxation area. The pool has water lilies and some frogs live there.
In the village, there are not many dining options, so if you do not feel like using the kitchen to prepare your meals, Chão do Rio has an agreement with a restaurant. At the guest’s request, directly with the restaurant, it is possible to order some regional dishes. We ordered before we arrived to make sure we had dinner that day.
The basket of regional products is also there to make your breakfast, and believe us, there’s plenty of food inside it. We ended up preparing scrambled eggs in the morning. If the weather is nice, we suggest you have breakfast on the balcony. Alternatively, our house had a thermal suitcase available so you can choose to prepare a picnic.
Promotion of Biodiversity
During the fires of October 2017, which hit the Travancinha area hard, a part of the property that had some forest was completely destroyed, so, Chão do Rio, started the project of the Forest of the Future.
After acorn sowing, oaks were planted, typical of the region, with the intention of being a forest more resistant to fires in the future, protecting the village and nature itself.
Conditions have been created for local species to cohabit with visitors, such as wetlands, ecological corridors, and wildlife refuges.
Environmentally Friendly Experiences
In Chão do Rio it is possible to do a massage in the shade of oaks, to participate in workshops of photography, go for walks by the mountain, horseback riding and
There is also free use of bicycles, walking paths, a chicken coop where children can collect eggs, a biological vegetable garden, and two sheep. Fun wheelbarrow trips can also be made. Diving between water lilies and frogs will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience.
By doing these activities, guests can explore nature responsibly.
The sustainability policy is not just about nature but also about the local community. When we started to see what our basket of food had, we realized that a large part of the products was local and regional and not just of local businesses but also from solidarity institutions such as the homemade cookies and muesli.
On-site there is also a craft shop and, when we arrived, we were given various information about what we can visit in the region, as well as the partners of Chão do Rio who provides services to guests. In this way, when we visit them, we contribute to local development and to the sustainability of traditional activities in the region.
Reducing Environmental Impact
The reduction of environmental impact is also a concern in Chão do Rio. The houses built there are completely integrated
The water heating is done using solar panels and there is a concern with the saving of energy and water resources. The papers are recycled and there is a concern about the reuse of information media. On arrival, you will be given a plastic book with information about the place and the region.
The on-site pool is biological, so it does not use chemicals for the treatment and maintenance of water quality. It is a natural ecosystem that deals with the filtration of water through the plants there.
How to get there
The only way to get to Chão do Rio is by car or motorcycle. The village of Travancinha is a remote place in the interior of Portugal, and public transport is almost non-existent. The highway network allows you to reach it from any part of the country quickly.
Find a car to rent with Rentalcars.
What to do near Travancinha Village
- View the Roman road
- Visit the XVI century pharmacy
- Visit the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda
- See João Brandão’s Boulder
- Contemplate the views of Lapa Seixinha
- See the Roman bridge
- Visit the Pedunculated Blocks
- Enjoy the view of Pilar da Borceda
- See the Cruzeiro do Duplo Centenário
- Visit the chapel of Nossa Senhora das Virtudes
- Visit the chapel of São Sebastião
- Visit the Parish Church of Travancinha
- Visit the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Saúde
- See the Pelourinho
- Visit Camera House
- Visit the Comenda’s house
- See the secular fountain
- See the Penedo da Forca
- Visit the court of the XVI century
- Visit the prison of the XIX century
Portugal has many remote locations, far from the big cities, where we can take refuge, and Chão do Rio, in the village of Travancinha, is undoubtedly one of them. These unexplored locations, far from the tourist centers, must be preserved and those who visit or develop activities for tourism, should practice sustainable tourism and contribute to the local economy and development. We loved visiting and contributing to this cause, interacting with brands and entities that share these values that are also our own.
If you still have time…
- Visit Serra da Estrela
- Visit the Bread Museum
- Try the region’s traditional cheeses and sausages
- Book your flight to Portugal with Momondo or Skyscanner
- Find a car to rent with
- Choose your travel insurance with World Nomads
- We recommend the guides DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Portugal or Lonely Planet Portugal Travel Guide