In a hidden forest valley just 20km north of Lisbon, the Iberian Wolf Recovery Centre houses a dozen or so wolves in natural enclosures. There are only around three hundred wolves left in the wild in Portugal, mostly in the northern mountains, with another two thousand in Spain. Those living at the centre were brought here after being rescued from illegal captivity or were transferred from other zoos – they won’t be released again into the wild.
The centre is run by the not-for-profit organization Grupo Lobo (261 785 037 or 917 532 312; English spoken), which campaigns for wolf preservation and public education, and offers guided visits to see the wolves; you have to book in advance, but the day before is usually fine. You’ll get to walk around the enclosures and see (hopefully) some of the wolves up close, and you can then buy as many postcards, T-shirts, key-rings and wolf-adoption packs as you can manage to boost the centre’s funds. They also have a volunteer programme.
To get here, follow the brown signs for the “Centro de Recuperaçâo do Lobo Ibérico”, which is 7km from Malveira, off the N8 Torres Vedras road; look for the turn at the Picão/Carapiteira junction and then it’s 2km up a minor road, eventually a track (but fine for cars), which leads to the reception centre.