RIVER POIO – the EMPREROR!!!
No doubt that this river offers the fans of river sports one of the best, most beautiful and most complete canyon/river descents in Portugal. To describe Poio is quite an ungrateful task because we know that a lot can be said and still we might not be able to transmit its beauty and magnitude. The start is near a small dam situated in a small village called Alvadia and finishes in the natural pools of Cabriz ( in Ribeira de Pena, quite close to the highway A7´s exit to this locality ). The beginning of the route basically consists in walking downstream and swimming in a few pools surrounded by a superb landscape. Looking at its banks we can easily figure out that in rainy months river Poio reaches high water levels. After two small rappels ( or abseils ), quite good to warm up and practise some rope work techniques, comes the most desirable and appreciable part of the route. Commonly know as “Fenda” ( crack, split ), this section is shaped by five waterfalls until you get to ” Poço” ( large pool, well ). In any of these waterfalls, good rappel techniques and a calm approaching will help you overcoming it easily. The landscape? Indescribable. Dazzling from the start to finish! For the most anxious – and excitable too… – it´s about 60/90 minutes of adrenalin specially if you´re doing it for the first time. Obviously it takes less time if the crew is experienced and reduced.
Surpassed the “Fenda”, follows a “clean” jump of about 6/7 metres that comes before a long walking along boulders of many sizes and shapes, crystal clear water pools and astonishing landscapes. It goes like this until you reach the famous “Cai de Alto” waterfall. Shortly before and right after this waterfall there are two spots where you can spend the night in case you want make this long descent in two days. Both are excellent to spend a night of fellowship and fun, being the second more sheltered from wind and the first a better option to enjoy the view and sunset. “Cai de Alto” waterfall can be rappelled down all at once – it´s about 58/60 metres high – or divided in two distinguished parts. From its top to its half or so – where the next anchors are - it´s a normal rappel ( only a bit above mainland Portugal´s height average ). As for the second half, we could face it as a “toboggan” and slide in the smooth rock being advisable the utilization of rope and harness. Watch out for the last rebound on your left unless you want to get a broken arse!!!
From this point until the end, more walking along granite rocks, jumping to deep wells, swimming in beautiful pools, rappelling down here and there and as you reach the end of the route, civilizations starts to show up before you.
No doubt that river Poio is the emperor of mainland Portugal´s canyonings!!!