Cara Creek Eco Lodge is located in Central Portugal, nestled in the foothills of the Serra da Estrela Mountain Range, where the Seia River meets the Mondego River.
We are an off-grid eco lodge located directly on the banks of the River Seia, we also host a variety of retreats as well as residential and non-residential courses - all immersed in our beautiful and natural setting.
Our unique accommodations and facilities are all inspired-by-nature designs. Our 5 penta-pods are right on the river, with private decks and our 4 tetra-pods have star-gazing ceilings.
As a work-exchange volunteer tasks will vary from help in the garden, cooking, animal chores, cleaning accommodations, and more eco building projects.
River front tent accommodations and 3 meals a day in exchange for 5 hours of work per day, from Monday to Friday.
Rory is a civil engineer by trade and has hands on experience building with cob, strawbale, lime plasters, timber frames along with listed building renovation work. Ashley is a qualified nurse and yoga instructor (hatha and vinyasa style) in the community. She has most recently founded her own yoga school "Off Grid Yoga School" which hosts both yoga retreats and 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Cara Creek Eco Lodge.
Throughout the construction of the eco lodge there have been two distinct, but interrelated aspects; Natural building and permaculture. We plan on learning by doing and sharing the knowledge we already have, and offer volunteers the same opportunity.
Duties will include: general cleaning and maintenance of the site, feeding and cleaning the barn (we have a bunch of chickens, 2 goats, 2 pigs, 4 dogs and 1 cat), assisting with building and renovating, general daily jobs, cooking, cleaning of accommodations etc.
So, come and join us at Cara Creek Eco Lodge, gain and share experience, and make life-long friends along the way!
Cara Creek Eco Lodge´s facilities on site include a natural swimming pool, a wood fired hot tub, an outdoor gym, and a river front yoga space. There is a natural creek with a rock jump and a private river beach. We have a restaurant/cafe, providing delicious meals and snacks.
The surroundings of Cara Creek Eco Lodge offer not only beautiful views in nature, but also the deep richness of the regional Portuguese culture.
A 5 minute walk from Cara Creek Eco Lodge you'll have the unmissable opportunity to see a derelict water mill set in the banks of the Seia River. If you're lucky, you might even get the chance to see the shepherd and his sheep passing or grazing in the local pastures.
Just 10 minutes from Cara Creek Eco Lodge is the quaint village of Ervedal da Beira which maintains a rich Portuguese culture. Relax and enjoy a coffee there, or inquire with The Beiras Tour Co. to arrange a tour. They offer mountain biking, paddle boarding, and a variety of cultural tours.
Whilst having a coffee and a typical pastry in one of the quaint villages of Ervedal da Beira or Azenha, you can't help but notice the region's culture and close-knit community. By sitting and having a chat with the locals in the cafe, you'll soon get a feel for the authenticity of both the people and the lifestyle that remain palpable here in the Beiras Region. You will soon become accustomed to the way of life and enjoy the innate tranquility that is forever present in the surrounding Portuguese villages.
Some of the nearby tours include a visit to one of the regional cheese factories or a local olive museum. If you are a wine lover, maybe a visit to one of the local wineries is best suited for you. It will give you the opportunity to gain more insight into the long-lived wine making process that the community has used for generations, plus enjoy a taste! Alternatively, perhaps a mountain bike or paddle board tour would be a better option for you. Regardless of the tour chosen, you will undoubtedly gain more insight into the rural Portuguese way of life, and see first-hand how the small agricultural businesses still manage to thrive today.
Three towns that are maximum 20-30 minutes away include Tabua, Oliveira do Hospital, Carregal do Sal. Coimbra and Viseu are just 45 minutes to one hour away, and smaller villages such as Ervedal da Beira, Vila do Mato, Azenha, Fiais da Beira, and Midoes are just 5-10 minutes away with quaint cafes and communities.
Cara Creek Eco Lodge has been constructed with respect to and complements the natural beauty of the property.
We have worked, and continue to work, to optimise the beautiful piece of paradise to its potential with permaculture principles in mind. We have built and renovated using sustainable architecture techniques and with only natural building materials.
The stone ruins were preserved and renovated using the traditional methods of repointing with limecrete - a mixture of water, sand and lime. For new structures, natural building materials like timber (some from the land!), Cob, and stone were used. The naturally occurring element of Borax preserves the wood, and linseed oil polished and finished it. From the stone foundations, to finishing the touches of paint we've had a minimal carbon footprint by using natural and locally sourced materials.
Cara Creek Eco Lodge maintains the low carbon footprint by being completely off grid. Our lodge uses fire wood sourced from our land in our wood oven for cooking and to heat water for showers, and the gorgeous wood fired hot tub. Electricity is powered by solar, and we're fortunate to have our own mountain spring for drinking water.
From the natural swimming pool, which uses plants to filter the water, to the communal spaces and accommodations, each has been meticulously thought out and inspired by nature in it's design.
In both our garden and our overall project, we have implemented permaculture principles. We have one lovely dwarf goat, Lola! She eats the weeds to help us keep them under control, plus give us milk to drink or to make cheese with. Our pigs and chickens have turned over our soil for our kitchen garden, and provide compost. We grow our own fruit and veggies, raise chickens for fresh eggs and poultry, raise pigs for pork, and raise goats for milk and cheese. We use most of our own grown and raised produce in our kitchen and if we do not grow it or raise it ourselves, we source from the most local and organic source as possible. Our intention is to be fully self-sustainable.
We also have 4 lovely dogs and 1 cool cat on-site pets. They are all friendly and polite with our guests, and if welcome they love to join for a stroll along the river Mondego.