Free as a bird

A new wave of camper van tourists arrives in the Algarve

The freedom of touring around and finding the perfect spot to spend the night has always been very attractive to me, so I was thrilled to come across a company called Soul Campers, here in the Algarve, who offered exactly what I was looking for. Not being a fan of being caught short or camping in general, popping a tent in the back of the car has never had much appeal but having a fully self-contained mobile home sounded like my idea of heaven.

I booked a campervan that can accommodate four for my husband and I via the company’s website and was really pleased to find that they also hire out a number of useful items such as heaters, collapsible tables and chairs, surfboards and full sets of linen (ideal for people coming straight from the airport).

We set off to São Brás de Alportel to pick up our home for the weekend and have a chat with Tânia and Pedro about their fun, new venture.

Soul Campers started in 2015, and is run by husband and wife Pedro and Tânia Guerreiro. The couple started with four purpose built vans and, due to popular demand, they are now converting vans into campers onsite and will be doubling their fleet this year to have eight.

Tânia told us “Pedro and I used to live in Lisbon and the idea of starting the company came after a long trip along the coast of Spain and Portugal with our old Mercedes wagon from 1991, equipped with only a mattress in the back and some camping material. Both of our childhoods were linked to nature and the sea and for some time we longed to live and to have an activity that would allow us this connection. Our grandparents are from the Algarve where we have always been vacationing, hence also the choice of location.”

The campervans on offer are a long way off from the old Mercedes that the couple had their road trip in, all those years ago. They are fully equipped with a fitted double bed, a shower room with a chemical toilet, a little kitchenette with a fridge, stove, crockery and everything you might need to prepare and eat a small meal aboard. There is electricity, running water, power sockets, USB chargers, a comfortable seating/dining space for four people and all of the windows are fitted with retractable mosquito nets and black-out curtains. They really have thought of everything to ensure comfort and have even gone as far as to insulate the campers with one of Portugal’s biggest resources: cork.

We set off on our road trip and were very pleased to find that the campervan was actually very easy to drive with light steering and it was not too big so we didn’t feel like a menace on the road.

Heading inland, the landscape changes so much that you could imagine you were in Central America. The sleepy villages and wildlife are a real treat to observe and a total contrast to the coastal areas.

We decided to partake in a spot of “Wild Camping” which is actually still legal in Portugal. The most important thing to be aware of is that just like any other vehicle on the road, we must read the signs and abide by them. There are a few spots dotted around that have a no campervans sign and be sure to take heed, as not doing so will result in fines and potentially an unwelcome knock on your door at 2am or thereabouts to tell you to move on.

Our trip took us up to Vila Nova de Milfontes and we stopped at every beach along the stunningly beautiful west coast on the way back down to our beachfront spot in Sagres, where we spent the night. On the second day, we continued to Lagos for lunch, with a leisurely drive back towards Carvoeiro and back inland to enjoy some time around Silves and the Dam.

There are plenty of campsites for people who prefer to use them and on longer trips they would be very helpful to refill the water tank and meet some likeminded people but for us, the beauty of this trip was that we had no real plan when we started off. We just followed the coast and were blown away by the outstanding beauty that was bountiful.

Tânia concluded “We believe that more than campervan rental, we offer the possibility to live unique and genuine experiences with total freedom, allowing exploration of the different landscapes and cultures. The new vans will have solar power, but for now we can only dream of the future vans that worked on renewable energy and not oil.”

Text: Mia Wallace
Photos: Mia Wallace & Soul Campers


Author: Inside Carvoeiro

Share This Post On