HIDDEN GEM: This Portuguese waterhole resembles a doorway leading to another realm

Looking to travel as far away as possible? How about a journey to the centre of the Earth? Covão dos Conchos might just take you there.

The mystical waterhole in Portugal’s Lagoa da Serra da Estrela looks like something from a sci-fi movie.

Don’t let your imagination carry you away, the gaping hole is not actually a portal to another dimension. Instead its magic is the product of engineering.

Covão dos Conchos is an artificial lake built in 1955 during the construction of the nearby hydroelectric dam. The lake’s vortex-like spillway provides nearby communities with fresh water by collecting water from Ribeira das Naves and diverting it to the Bayou Lagoon Long.

Covão dos Conchos was a well-kept secret until drone footage of it was posted online.

It has a height of 4.6 meters and the opening has a circumference of 48 meters. The tunnel that collects the water is a whopping 1519 meters long.

Cascading waterfalls and moss growing around the opening of the man-made spillway make it look like a very natural part of the environment.

Getting there: Covão dos Conchos is in the Serra da Estrela natural park, home to Portugal’s highest mountain range.

It’s far away from any big city, so to see the artificial wonder you will have to hike there.

The 8.9-kilometre-hike starts from the car-park at Lagoa Comprida. The journey is relatively flat, easy to follow and takes about two hours all up. See the full trail here.

You should still pack comfortable shoes and warm clothes if you are travelling in the winter time (the lake can freeze).

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