Vale de Moses
SERRA DE ESTRELA, PORTUGAL
Gloriously peaceful, remote sanctuary in the forested mountain valleys of central Portugal, ideal for yoga, relaxation and healthy eating retreats
From €800 pp for a 5-night retreat
IN A NUTSHELL
Surrounded by pine and eucalyptus forest, Vale de Moses is a warm, easy-going five-hectare venue that's ideal for yoga, health, wellbeing, nature and nutrition retreats. Family-run by husband and wife Vonetta and Andrew Winter, it offers farmhouse, cottage and belle tent accommodation, along with a yoga shala floating above the herb gardens, moss-lined river paths and vibrant home-cooked food. Explore nature, have healing treatments, practise yoga, recharge batteries and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
INDOOR RETREAT SPACES
The spacious and light yoga shala hanging over the gardens gives you the feeling of hovering right over the valley. As well as two dedicated, airy treatment rooms, there's also a cob-domed rocket-stove sweat lodge down by the cascading river pools.
OUTDOOR RETREAT SPACES
You'll find hammocks and meditation benches scattered around the valley - you'll be serenaded by cascading waterfalls, birdsong and the breeze whistling through the leaves. There's a plunge pool and deck below the Moses cottage. Wander along moss-lined river paths to old flour mills.
In the farmhouse, there are four cosy, private twin/double bedrooms. Nearby in the river valley below, Moses Cottage, which is open plan over three floors, has four single beds. The spacious private bathroom to the side has a thermodynamic heated shower, dry compost toilet and its own wood burner. Originally for wine pressing and storage, the Adega is now a three-bed shared cottage, equipped with a wood-burning stove, two single beds on separate levels with their own front doors and a third single bed in a small private room affectionately called the Ninja Suite. You'll also find six private twin/double strawberry belle tents, each mounted on a separate stone terrace, with hammocks hanging in the shade of strawberry fruit trees. You'll have electricity for lights and charging devices, and a wood-burning stove for the cooler spring and autumn nights.
The farmhouse is the main living area, and is set on two levels with an interior courtyard, and a grand piano.
Steps lead down to the flagstone tea-making and dining area.
Your host Vonetta Winter is a yoga teacher, and has a schedule of visiting teachers so you can enjoy all styles of yoga, from flowing and energetic yoga , inspired by ashtanga, vinyasa flow and dynamic hatha yoga to yin Yoga, focused asana exploration, acro yoga and some quiet contemplation. Expect bodywork massage, acupuncture, herbal consultations and forest bathing meditation walks. Workshops in cooking, art and photography are also offered. Be sure to join excursions for wild swimming in the Rio Zêzere or to river beaches in the area.
Chefs prepare three delicious vegetarian or vegan and mostly gluten-free meals a day, and all food is inspired by the principles of ayurveda and blended with Portuguese flavours. Each menu is designed to nourish the gut's microbiome and will feature fresh vegetables, salads and fruit, pulses and grains. Meals are low in salt and high in fresh herbs and spices, with honey from local wild bees preferred over sugar. Breakfasts might include rice, millet, quinoa or buckwheat porridge with fruit salad, toasted nuts and seeds, and freshly squeezed juice. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, with colourful salads, roasted veggies and different grains on offer. Dinners are light to help sleep. Think filling soups, salad, bread and dips.
Vale de Moses has several kitchen gardens to grow its own vegetables and buys some produce, oil, honey and wine from neighbours in season. Thirty-six solar panels help produce much of the electricity and there are four solar heated showers by the Adega, soulpads and main farmhouse which take water from an ancient Moorish water mine further up the valley. The venue recycles 100 percent of the kitchen and biodegradable waste to make compost to improve the quality of the stony soil, and take all tin and plastics to the local recycling depot. All the hot water is heated by thermodynamic panels and solar and wood- burning stoves in the colder months, which also heat the main farmhouse radiators in every room.
This is a fully fledged back-to-nature retreat set in a truly healing valley, which will take your breath away with its sheer beauty. If you love animals, you'll be in heaven and share your space with friendly dogs, adorable pot-bellied pigs and a cat.
The Less Than Ordinary
The rooms in the old stone farmhouse cottages are too small for en-suites so all bathrooms and showers are shared. It's a steep valley with most of the pathways hand-carved - it might not suit the less-than-nimble.
Vale de Moses
6160-052 Castelo Branco
Lisbon or Porto