Newsletter December 2011

At Maravilhas

The past couple of months a lot of tinkering and repairs have been done at Monte Maravilhas and our guests have enjoyed typical Portuguese activities in nature.


At Monte Maravilhas we have many cork oaks. Last summer it was time for one of our two cork harvests. The pealing of the cork is a special skill, which needs to be done carefully. If you don’t do this carefully there is a chance that the underlying tissue might be damaged and the tree will die. The cork is pealed from the trunk every ten years. Portugal is the country with the highest cork harvest. The cork is used for amongst others shoe soles, isolation, floors, walls, lifebuoys, and the closing of bottles.

A team of Portuguese came over to peal the corks of Monte Maravilhas. After the pealing the trunks are orange/chestnut brown of colour and a number is chalked into the tree. In this case it’s a 1 for the year 2011. For our guests it was a nice opportunity to witness this. They took many photos! The harvest of the other cork oaks at Maravilhas will take place in the summer of 2014.


In September we flattened the road from camping building Terra to Casa Azul and the water tank. The road has also been made rainproof. At the moment we’re busy converting the former generator building into a living space. You can read more about this in our next newsletter.


In the Alentejo November is the month of the olive harvest. In cooperation with the neighbours the olives of Monte Maravilhas have been harvested and brought to the press. The weight of this year was 570 kilograms. If you convert this it comes to a harvest of approximately 57 litres of olive oil.

Furthermore, the storks have returned. It’s a beautiful sight to see them brooding at their nests on the high poles!

Active holidays

The coming months a number of activity weeks have been scheduled. The group hiking weeks take place from 25 February – 3 March, 7 – 14 April and 9 – 16 June 2012. From 7 – 14 April 2012 there is also a Portuguese language and culture week. In June there’s a massage and meditation week and a yoga week. In the agenda you can find a complete overview of all activities. Further on in this newsletter you can read about the experiences of one of our hiking guests.

Partners and fellow travellers

Sometimes we have more activity weeks planned in the same week, like in April and June. This way you can go on holiday together and each choose your own activity. Your partner or fellow traveller is always welcome at Monte Maravilhas. He or she is free to stay here without participating in an activities week.

Guests of Maravilhas

We could tell you how enjoyable and fun our group hiking weeks are. However, our former guests are much better at this, like Cecilia who participated on her own:

“I would like to share my experiences with the hiking group at Monte Maravilhas. First of all, Maravilhas is in itself a very pleasant place to depart from every day. And it’s a very nice place to return home to after each hike. The whole group stayed in Casa Amarela where I had my own room. Every morning at breakfast Devi, the hiking guide, would tell us where we would be going that day. Around ten o’clock in the morning we started our very varied hikes in the hills around Maravilhas.

Tara the dog would accompany us, barking and happy, a full member of our group. She knew the way. Devi always had a map of the area and could show us where the route would take us that day. Farms, herds of sheeps and goats and cosy little villages crossed our path. We walked with a brisk pace but enjoyed plenty of breaks so that the programme was open and very relaxed. Lovely chats and plenty of laughter with group members… Also enjoyable silence and taking in the bird sounds all around us….  Oh Portugal, you are so beautiful in your simplicity!

In a small cafe we ate our selfmade lunches with a cup of hot homemade local soup. We were high from the hiking itself. Around five o’clock we would return home, take a relaxing shower and enjoy a glass of wine, beer or juice. The lovely smells in the kitchen would announce John was busy cooking for us… Hmmm and we sure were hungry!

Prem, Devi and John are people with whom you can laugh but also have a deep conversation. Every day was a new adventure and Devi took us on very varied hikes in the Alentejo. Every time we experienced the variety, beauty and quietness of Portugal.

I enjoyed a fantastic hiking week: peaceful, lots of humour, adventure and sportive, a real coming home at Monte Maravilhas.”
Warm regards from Cecilia

Tips: Christmas and wintering

Alternative Christmas

Interested in a last minute Christmas holiday? Casa Amarela is still available from 22 December and Casa Azul from 28 December. The weather is lovely in the Alentejo at the moment. The days are relatively long and the temperature is pleasant. It’s good hiking weather, the nature is green, the lambs are in the meadow and the oranges are ready to be picked.

Wintering in Portugal

Wintering in Portugal is lovely. We now have special rates for those who rent a holiday for two weeks or longer. Please contact us for more information.

Friends of Maravilhas

On the other side of the road across Monte Maravilhas is the idyllic house ‘Casa Saskia’. Here our neighbour, the originally Dutch Saskia, runs her own unique restaurant. Saskia moved to Portugal in 2000 and has submerged herself in the eating culture of the Portuguese.

On the terrace under the large pine tree she serves the most delicious traditional Portuguese dishes in the summer months. In the winter Saskia provides the option to deliver a dinner at your place. Especially for the Monte Maravilhas guests she cooks delightful dishes, which are delivered to the holiday houses free of charge. On the menu are amongst others Portuguese chicken piri-piri, tasty fish stews and vegetarian dishes.

A two course menu consists for a main dish and a desert and costs 12,50 € per person. You can order from the menu at least one day in advance by calling Saskia. From June to September Casa Saskia is also open from Thursday to Sunday from 19.00 to 22.00 hours. For questions you can also contact Prem at Monte Maravilhas.

Cycling and hiking fair

On Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February 2012 we will be at the ‘Fiets en wandelbeurs’ (cycling and hiking fair) in the RAI in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Everyone is welcome of course! At the reception you can ask where our stand is. There is no separate information day in Amsterdam or an open day at Monte Maravilhas in Portugal in 2012.

All that’s left is to wish everyone happy holidays and all the best for 2012! Until the next newsletter!

Warm regards from the Maravilhas team

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Sports Activities in the Area

Monte Maravilhas is ideally located for hiking. There are nine route descriptions available, of which seven start from Maravilhas, one is alongside the west coast and one near the Santa Clara lake. We have two bicycles available so you can cycle to the nearby towns. Ourique (20 km) has a horse riding center if you wish to go horse riding. They have guided trips of the area.