It was an adventure trip to Cape Town that led Ricardo Viana to develop his travel company, Portugal Active. He saw a “lot of similarities” between the South African city and his hometown of Viana do Castelo, in the far north of Portugal. “I realized that this is a small paradise that no one values, internationally” he says.
“There’s a mountain in the city center, cold water, great conditions for kite surfing but also the opportunity to be [regular] surfing ten minutes away with zero wind, and it’s a city that’s an activity hub,” he explains. I would add proximity to some very good wineries, because his base is in the Vinho Verde wine region, and some very good traditional restaurants, because we’re talking about Portugal here. (His family name is a happy, on-brand coincidence.)
In 2017, just barely out of university, Viana invested €5,000 of his earnings as a kite surfing instructor to set up a beach shack for bike rentals and tours. The entrepreneur is rightly proud of the fact that his business has grown organically since then, without the help of banks or institutional investors. This means he has been free to do what he wants, or, rather, what his clients will want.
Eventually, Viana decided to step things up and opened his first Portugal Active Lodge as a staging ground from which to launch the adventure tours that he loves to lead. From there, he built a portfolio of about a dozen homes—he, his partners and private investors own several of them and are the exclusive rental agents for rest—that can be home base for all kinds