Barragems are possibly
Portugal's best-kept secret. Barragem simply
translates to dam, often abbreviated to 'Bgem'
on maps. In an effort to provide sufficient water
for the country Portugal has dammed hundreds of
rivers. Many Barragems have areas set aside for
water sports and activities, often promoting this
on road signs from many kilometres away. Portugal
has embraced Barragems as community areas, often
allowing fishing, swimming, sailing and windsurfing.
Some even have river beaches so traditional seaside
pastimes can be enjoyed right across Portugal.
Barragems are normally very well signed and easy
to find. What makes them ideal for the motorhomer
is many have large car parks overlooking the water.
Often dirt tracks can provide access to the water's
edge or a secluded spot for bird watching. Barragems
are wonderful places to spend the day or somewhere
to stop for a leisurely lunch, some also have picnic
and BBQ areas.
In some cases, such as Barragem Pego do Altar or
Abrantes, it is possible to park overnight and facilities
such as water and toilet emptying are provided.
At others, neither camping nor motorhomes are prohibited.
Responsible tourism must be upheld. There is no
quicker way of spoiling a good thing than lots of
motorhomes camping, overstaying their welcome or
illegally emptying their waste. Do this and the
motorhome exclusion signs will go up, don't
spoil it for everyone else. Take only your memories
and leave only your tyre tracks.
are accessed by dirt tracks that may be potholed,
have protruding rocks, sudden dips or overhanging
trees. Damage to your motorhome can occur, body
overhangs and steps are most vulnerable. If you
choose to drive down these tracks do so slowly and
take extreme care.