Portugal Off Road – Driving dirt tracks. From the very first moment the Dream Overland concept was conceived, it was clear to the founders that the main objective of this Overlanding company would be to discover remote parts of Portugal. This concept was not about visiting wonderful cities like Lisbon and busy beach resorts in the Algarve but rather moving away from the crowds and exploring the tracks less travelled.
Most people may not be aware that Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, with nearly nine centuries of history and traditions resulting from a legacy left by the various cultures who inhabited these lands over the centuries. Some of these cultures include the Phoenicians, the Arabs, the Greeks and Carthaginians, the Romans and the northern Europeans. It is also interesting to note that in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to sail to most parts of Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, the far East and South America.
As highlighted by Jose Almeida founder of Dream Overland this is probably why the Portuguese have been so open to the world’s cultures resulting in a mixed society that represents various cultures from all over the globe. And with such a rich culture these guys will guide you along the thousands of kilometers of dirt tracks into the heart of what this 4WD paradise really has to offer.
Not only is Portugal one of the best countries in Europe to explore a huge network of dirt tracks it is also a top destination for foodies, the Portuguese cuisine is delicious, diverse and very rich in its ingredients.
When tackling the tracks in your 4WD in the inland regions of the country you will find that the delicacies and specialities enjoyed are meat based dishes (beef, pork, game, kid goat, lamb, rabbit, chicken…) cooked in different ways, whereas the coastal areas are famous for its acclaimed fresh fish and seafood.
Climate wise, being a southern European country exposed to the Atlantic, the weather in Portugal is generally mild but varies from one region to another depending on the latitude and proximity to the sea.
In the Northern regions, particularly inland, winters are cold with temperatures often reaching sub-zero figures and some snow falls mostly in the highest mountain ranges. Summers are hot and dry especially in the south with temperatures easily going above the 30ºC mark, so be prepared to bring your hat, sunscreen and ray-bans. The rainy season normally goes from November to April and the dry season goes from May to early October. There are often warm, sunny days in the autumn making it possible to travel and explore in your 4WD having pretty decent weather for over six months of the year.
For most of us who love nothing more that exploring the dusty tracks in our 4WD’s one of the best rewards you can have at the end of a long day’s touring is finding the perfect camp and resting up for the night. Though wild camping is not permitted in Portugal there are a number of rural accommodation options that include choosing numerous registered campsites and B&B’s.
As a registered tour operator accredited for nature-related activities by the Portuguese authorities, but also as lovers of everything natural and pure, the Dream Overland tours are based on the great spirit of adventure while adhering to a strict code of conduct that respects the natural environment.
As off-road enthusiasts Dream Overland believe their tours can help preserve the environment and promote the development of local projects and communities in a sustainable way. Jose Almeida the founder of Dream Overland said that ‘’when preparing for trips we make our best efforts to leave a positive impression on the people we meet and minimize any environmental impacts caused by our overland tours’’.
Dream Overland consider each trip as a tailor-made event with tours organised according to the preferences of each individual customer or group with a focus on providing choices on the routes to the places where we eat and sleep.
Jose also highlighted that every detail is taken into account in order to provide customers with a memorable experience and an opportunity to take a few photographs and have some good stories to tell when returning to their place of origin.
A Kiwi overlander once told us that ‘‘in off-roading nothing replaces local knowledge”, and that’s why we spend a whole lot of time doing our own recces instead of relying on web-based data and information given by third parties. These Portuguese 4WD tours are well planned out.
From talking to Jose you can tell that this is a company that takes pride in what it does. Each Dream Overland customer receives a booklet with general information about the country and a road book on the routes they’ll be exploring on their adventure, including specific information about places of interest, accommodation, restaurants and a list of locations of authorised garages that will help should vehicles get into trouble and need to be fixed in a hurry. Jose also highlighted that from his experience problems and issues do happen when you least expect them and that’s why they have a 24/7 helpline. Whether it’s just to help with a translation, assist with booking provide health & safety related information or get some mechanical assistance, it’s really all about making sure that everyone gets to continue on their journey as planned.
Dream Overland maintain a very high standard in terms of legal compliance,personal safety and environmental awareness.
Some of the companies principles include; Always driving safely and responsibly – Respect people, property and the environment – learning about local cultures,products and traditions
Drive only on existing paths and leave no trace – Comply with applicable codes and regulations – Have fun and share the passion for respectable off-road driving.
On the Dream Overland tours you will experience a number of rural accommodation options that include choosing from a variety of registered campsites and B&B’s where you can easily experience the local culture and that’s what makes these overlanding tours special.
Jose highlighted that they use the latest route planning technology and provide customers with the off-road tracks and points of interest on GPS systems.
As a registered tour operator Dream Overland is covered by the mandatory professional liability and personal injury insurance policies and the legal permissions required by the Portuguese authorities.
Portugal just may be Europe’s best kept secret – especially if you decide to explore its remotest areas in a 4×4. For centuries, Portugal has been a land of explorers who traveled the globe and discovered many parts of the world, but now this hidden gem is being discovered by many overlanders and remote travellers who head south to enjoy the many dusty tracks in this unique spectacular part of Europe. Portugal Off Road – Driving dirt tracks.