Although we both live in Lisbon at the moment, we have a strong connection with Alentejo. I’m a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) instructor, and when I found out about a Portuguese company building boards with a cork finish I decided I had to buy one. Also, I always loved the Alentejo landscape, so I wanted to build a business that combined the experience of spending a day in Alentejo with SUP.
After a fortunate series of events and partnerships, Corktour was born in October 2017. We have activities in the pastures, in the olive grove, and in the cities. Our goal is to create a day full of experiences so that you can live each time of the day in this environment.
It’s very relaxing to have an activity in the pastures, then spend an hour or two touring in the jeep and going Stand Up Paddling, followed by a wine tasting! Stand Up Paddling in the middle of this quiet is extraordinary!
Maria’s family is from Estremoz which means all her family memories are of Alentejo. As we grew older, we began to be more interested in the Alentejo products, the landscape, getting closer to nature. And that’s what connects us to Alentejo these days.
We built our theme activities around the local products of Alentejo: wine, cork, and olive oil. Even the local cities have their own SUP experience.
Most of the times, the SUP activity takes place at Barragem dos Minutos, a dam we already knew well and is very close to Lisbon and most of our partners in Alentejo.
Our story and mission
Corktour was born in October 2017 and, since the beginning, our goal was to link our passion for Alentejo to SUP. We had to work very hard until we found the right partnerships for the project. Many doors were closed in our faces, but we embraced all the windows that opened. During that time, we met exceptional people, particularly in the hotel industry, because one of the ways of making clients stay for longer is to provide them with other activities.
In our experiences, a licensed guide leads the historical tours and António, the host of Corktour is the guide for the Sightseeing activity.
At the moment, our partners are in Montemor-o-Novo, Arraiolos, Estremoz, Évora, Avis, and Vila Viçosa. Cork & SUP, Cork & City, Cork & Wine, Cork & Olive, Cork & Cork, and Sightseeing are our fixed activities, but all the tours are customisable.
We want to provide a full day of experiences so that you can live each different time of the day in this environment. Furthermore, although there are cold days in Alentejo, the sun shines most of the year, and we’re working hard to make our activities less seasonal. Maria is an occupational therapist and, in the long term, we want to make this type of tourism as inclusive as possible.
A case of passion
We have no doubt about it: Alentejo is perfect in everything! It’s the place where you find the best food, the best olive oil, the best wine. The cork is extraordinary. And now we have SUP, which is an unusual activity in all this quietness.
The challenge for SUP in Alentejo is the strong wind. But, overall, it’s more relaxing here than on the coast where we have to pay attention to currents, waves, etc. constantly.
When Maria was a kid, Alentejo meant silence and calm. At the time she didn’t value it that much, but now it’s the other way around because that’s precisely what we look for. The calm and the different pace of life that we don’t find in the big cities.
For now, we’re still living in Lisbon, but our goal is to move to Alentejo with our three children. Living in Alentejo would allow us to have a quieter life and be more connected to the land. Right now that’s what we’re looking for.
There’s a whole sustainable life cycle around the cork trees and the pastures that most tourists don’t know about. Considering this is a field we’re good at, I think it’s our job to spread the word.