Star Camp – a unique safari-style camp overlooking Portugal’s Côa Valley, opened up in June to welcome and host its very first guests. This nature traveler’s dream was an idea conceived by Rewilding Europe back in 2013. Through collaboration with the Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN), our main partner in Western Iberia and sole owner of the Faia Brava Reserve, this idea became reality making the Star Camp Europe’s first real safari-style accommodation.
Last year, Star Camp was pre-launch in the testing phase. This June, after final preparations, Europe’s first real safari-style accommodation has opened for guests – nature lovers, travellers, families and adventurers wanting to experience one of the wild treasures of Europe. The Star Camp was developed by Rewilding Europe in cooperation with Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) and local entrepreneur Sara Noro, who is operating the Star Camp. A low-cost loan was offered through Rewilding Europe Capital, with Rewilding Europe also providing ongoing technical and operational support. After a few years of hard work, the Star Camp now became a reality.
— “I jumped at this opportunity,” says Sara Noro. “Without Rewilding Europe’s help the project simply wouldn’t have got off the ground. It has certainly been hard work, but we are so excited about sharing the beauty of the reserve with our guests. This camp is a unique opportunity for us to contribute towards an environment that my family and I have treasured for many years.”
Star Camp is located in the Faia Brava Reserve that covers nearly 1000 hectares of the beautiful steep-sided valley of the Côa River, between the peaks of the Serra da Marofa and vineyards of the Douro River. Only 4 hours’ drive from Lisbon, Star Camp is overlooking the breath-taking landscape of Western Iberia, rich in wildlife and with a varied habitat of olive trees and cork oaks, recovering Mediterranean forests as well as abandoned farmhouses, shepherd shelters and dry stonewalls. Since a few years, this area is also home to wild-living Garrano horses and Tauros cattle that graze the area in natural way. It is within this magnificent natural setting that Star Camp – with its safari-style feel can currently house six guests – is now sited. Thanks to its low-impact design, the camp strikes a perfect balance between comfort and sustainability.
Star Camp is a semi-permanent setup of three 20m2 rooms located in the Faia Brava reserve. Designed by local architects with a profound sense for nature, Sara Noro and Miguel Torres themselves, its components, except the wooden skeleton, are removable during winter. Every lodge has running water, composting toilet, a hot solar shower, and is fully equipped with double beds, sitting lounge space, mosquito nets, fine linen beddings, towels, fans and Wi-Fi in the central area. It offers uninterrupted mountain views from the wooden porches and an option to pull back the canvas to sleep under the crystal clear starry nights.
Built with mainly wood and canvas, rooms are incorporated into the Côa Valley wild landscape and allow a unique nature experience with a touch of luxury. Breakfasts plates are served to the lodge, filled with freshly brewed coffee & tea, orange juice, local breads and cheeses and can be enjoyed in bed or at the wooden deck under a nearby olive tree observing the variety of birds. Dinners are offered on the cliffs overlooking the vast Côa River canyon while soaking up the sounds of the distant village bells echoing down the valley below.
During the days, Faia Brava Reserve offers various attractions such as wildlife and bird watching with eagles and vultures both nesting on riverside cliffs – vulture hide experience is not to be missed. Visitors can go on guided walks or hike through the four-mile segment of the Grand Route, a 125-mile walking trail and wildlife corridor that opened in 2014 or go biking and horse-riding. There are also guided walks through wine cellars, olive oil presses, fabulous local vineyards with wine tastings and visits to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed rock carvings.
– – ‘The Star Camp is an exciting development for Rewilding Europe, as we strive to grow nature focused enterprise. This new unique camp allows guests to be immersed in nature and gives them the chance to reconnect. Sara spares no detail, and is a fantastic host always paying attention to her guests needs! Not to be missed is the fantastic vulture experience in Faia Brava – Star Camp is the perfect place to spend a few nights while exploring the greater area. – says Simon Collier, Rewilding Europe’s Wildlife Tourism Manager.
Star Camp will directly contribute to local conservation and the upkeep of Faia Brava through a “per guest fee”, paid annually to the ATN. A further “rewilding levy” will be used to improve and expand the reserve. As Europe’s first real safari-style accommodation, in the great tradition of the African bush camp, Star Camp represents a new milestone in Rewilding Europe’s drive to develop sustainable tourism across the continent.