Cabo Espichel

Continuing traveling in Portugal, last Monday, it was time to get to Cabo Espichel. It wasn't an easy and relaxing trip but it was fun in the end. I learned a few things along the way about camping alone.

Cabo Espichel is a location more or less 13km from Sesimbra. Besides the amazing cliffs, the Lighthouse and the old abandon church, some dinosaurs footprints there is not much to see there. If somebody asks me, it is worth going there just for this. However, i wouldn't recommend doing it as i did.

The easy part was getting to Sesimbra. From Lisbon, there are several buses from TST during the day. The trip takes around one hour depending on how bad the traffic is and cost 4.30€ from Alcantara station. Once in Sesimbra, there are a few buses to Cabo Espichel but i decided to hike all the way.

I made this decision a few days earlier and since i knew i wasn't going to be able to go back to Lisbon that day, i knew i would have to camp somewhere. In Portugal is illegal to camp outside camping sites but that never stopped people from doing it. I thought about camping by the church in Cabo Espichel but i wasn't sure how windy it would get. I learned my lesson in Scotland when i camped on a place with no protection and the wind almost destroyed my tent. I then started to look for locations not only to camp but to take advantage and photograph the sunrise. The best one i found was in a small beach back in Sesimbra, Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo. That meant that i had to hike all the back after being done in Cabo Espichel. At night. In the dark. More on that later.

There are a few paths to get to Cabo Espichel. I choose to hike on the main road. It was a more direct root but for someone who wants to enjoy the views and the cliffs maybe is not the best option. The most difficult part of the hike is at the beginning closer to Sesimbra where there is a steep road to climb. There is another road i didn't check so i don't know if it is possible to avoid climbing for a while.

 Sesimbra - Cabo Espichel

Sesimbra - Cabo Espichel

 The shitty part

The shitty part

This wasn't very fun since i was carrying on my backpack a tent, a sleeping bag, camera and tripod, some extra clothes, food, snacks water and some gadgets. I thought i was well prepared but on the way there i started to think what if it rains? I knew i would be in some trouble if it did. One of the problems i have when i am trying to do something like this is that i don't have a lot of water proof clothes. Something i will have in mind next time. I should mention that i bought a new backpack for this trip. The older one is good and in perfect condition but when i started packing it i didn't feel it would practical mainly because the only access i have to what is inside is from the top which means that if i need something that is on the bottom i have to take everything out to get it. I was able to find a good and affordable solution which i can have access to everything from the front. It made all the difference when i was setting up to make the photos.

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I knew i wasn't going to make a lot of photos. My goal was to make at least one in Cabo Espichel and another one during Sunrise regardless of where i would stay.

While i was researching about the weather i realized that it would be a good opportunity to try to photograph the Milky Way since the sky would be mostly clear and that there is not a lot of light pollution in this area besides from the lighthouse. My only problem was the moon. It wasn't full moon but stil was enough to be distracting and kill some of the Milky Way. I also found out that i should be turned South/Southwest to capture the core of the Milky Way to be aligned with the lighthouse. I didn't have any compass with me or on the phone so i more or less guessed where it would be. I do have an app that shows the position and the time of it but for some reason on my phone it doesn't work very well. So after walking around and choose where i wanted to be it was just a matter of waiting. I started shooting during the sunset and the night. The final resoult is not as good as i would hope for but considering the conditions i am very pleased with it. Once i realized that i wouldn't get the milky way and the lighthouse alighned i decided to pack and started hiking back and try to get some sleep.

 From Sunset to Night

From Sunset to Night

And the final result.

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Now, this is where i messed up. I had an idea that parts of the road would be dark. But i didn't realize that to get to the beach i would have to go on a trail that is somewhat not in a good condition and if i wasn't careful i could end up going closer to the cliffs more than i wanted to. I had a flashlight with me but there were times i wasn't sure where i was even using the gps on the phone. The connection wasn't perfect and there were a few times i took the wrong turn. In the end, all went well. What i have learned with this experience is to get to where i am camping while there is still light, not only easier to get there but also to set everything faster.

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To finish the adventure there was only one last thing to do: Sunrise. I really tried to sleep but my mind was thinking all the time on how dangerous it was to make the final path to the beach during the night. Even while taking the photos i wasn't able to find a good composition on the beach and the sky was much more cloudy than what i expected.

 Final image on Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo

Final image on Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo

Overall it was a good adventure. I was able to learn a few things about camping somewhere and things not to do. I also knew that I was afraid of heights and this experience made it even worse. I do recommend to go to Cabo Espichel but i don't recommend doing it as i did. There is a lot more to this area than just the lighthouse and hiking. I feel i didn't enjoy the place as i should have but my mind wasn't focused on enjoying the place but more on getting there, make the photo, come back, camp and go back home. As i am writing this i am planning to go there again soon to see it and enjoy it properly. Just me and my Fuji X100T. I do have some photos from the Fuji but i will post them when i go back.