Last Spring I was looking up places for the first part of the Summer vacation. The problem wasn’t so much what to do and see but where to stay. Hotels sounded boring, the whole “rural tourism” thing was a bit on the expensive side and camping didn’t sound as a fun option at the time.
Then a word came to my mind: glamping! I had heard it somewhere so I decided to do some research about it. At first it looked like camping for wimps (or grannies!) – not very tempting… But then I started seeing some very interesting things called yurts, i.e., a type of portable structure originally from Central Asia and traditionally used by nomads. After some more research (does it show that I love to look up things?) I really wanted to spend a few days in a yurt!
So what can I tell you about my experience in a yurt in Central Portugal?
1 – there’s lots of wildlife – the small kind: bees, ants, spiders, frogs and bats.
2 – the path between the parking spot and the yurt could be better adapted for small children, handicapped people and grannies.3 – you never know when you might make new friends!4 – the bathroom was right next to the yurt and altough it was quite comfortable bearing in mind it was built almost entirely out of wood….5 – the compost toilets* could be a bit more comfortable.6 – But you get to spend most of your time outside, even because the kitchen area is open…7 – and has pretty much everything you need to make your meals.8 – you can take a nap in the hammocks.9 – but you do have to get the fire going to warm up the water for your shower. Some yurts also have salamander heaters inside (tube on the right). Using fire starting skills: check!10 – Yurts can be very comfortable and cosy.11 – Yurts are more robust than you’d have imagined.12 – the whole structure is amazing.13 – You might just be lucky enough to get a gorgeous night sky!
Final verdict? Depending on their specific locations (some yurts are in camping parks, for example) the whole yurt experience can be more or less close to Nature. Although to me camping is as close to being in Nature as lodgings can go, yurts in my view are a good option for families with small children who don’t want to deal with all the fuss of tents, sleeping bags and whatnot but who still want to be out in Nature. I believe it’s a very interesting alternative to more conventional types of lodging and there are quite a few now in Portugal, mostly in the central part of the country.
I’d love to stay in another yurt in another region to get a different perspective! What about you? Would you like to spend a few days in a yurt or are you the “hotel only” type? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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*Many of the places that have yurts for rental also have compost toilets. How does it work? You have two separate toilets for, well… the two different things you do in toilets! In one there’s a tap to flush down some water and in the other you have to use sawdust (notice the small green shovel and the pink plastic lid: that’s where the sawdust is kept). As my mum very well said: it makes you look like a cat! There’s also the embarrassment in having to ask “Can we please have some more sawdust?”.