Barragem de Santa Clara

March 11, 2018


I’ve been recording quite a lot while on the road and I need a few weeks somewhere quiet to work through it all and process what I’ve got.

With that in mind, I’ve been searching for somewhere to park up for while, maybe as long as a month. It makes life easier and you can get into a bit of a routine which helps if you’ve got things you need to do like van maintenance, or like me about a hundred little unfinished jobs that I need to sort out.

In terms of a long-term park up, I think the Santa Clara Dam is about the best I’ve found. The dam is located on the Mira River, in the region of Odemira. As I followed the signposts down the twisted and potholed roads I wondered what to expect. I’d heard a lot about Santa Clara and many people had recommended I check it out so I was interested to see what it was like.

My first sight of the lake was about 10km from the parking area. Driving through mountainous terrain along bumpy, unpaved roads. The blue and turquoise water of the lake shimmering beneath forests of Eucalyptus and Pine. It seemed to stretch off into the distance forever!


As I neared, the trees either side of the road dropped away sharply revealing the long, sloping wall of the dam with a road running along the top which was the entrance to the parking area. The lake sprawled on one side, a dense forest on the other.


The water here is crystal clear and I’d been told it was safe to drink. One morning I saw a man from a water company testing the water so I asked him and he said it’s safe to drink but he would boil it first which was good to know.

There’s even a small swimming pool type construction that’s been built here. I went for a quick swim but it was freeeeezing at this time of year, would be glorious in the summer though.


The town of Santa Clara-A-Velha is a 5km walk through a beautiful forest and over some very steep hills or a short bike ride away if you take the road. Either way it’s close enough if you need to get supplies.


In the town there are two small ‘Supermarkets’ that sell most things you’ll need but for anything special you’ll need to go to a larger supermarket like Lidl or Intermarche in Odemira (about 45mins drive). The Intermarche has washing machines and a camper service area too which is useful.

When I first arrived here people were getting very excited about the public showers in the town that cost just 50 cents and you can use them for as long as you like. I’ve got a shower in the van but sometimes nothing beats a long shower where I don’t have to worry about water!

There’s also a hose in the centre and a Fonte (a natural spring) just around the corner for drinking water if you need to fill your water tank. These are both free which is a bonus, all the water points around the Algarve seem to cost a few Euros.

It’s got everything here and I can stay for weeks if I want to, definitely one of the best long-term park ups I’ve found.