To hire or not to hire?

It's a good question.

Here at Birding in Portugal we obviously think that you'll be getting more out of your Birding holiday if you elect to bird with us, and should this be the case you won't be needing a car at all as we'll pick you up from the airport, take care of you while you're here and drop you back again at the end. You'll see the birds you want to see without any of the expense, hassle and worry of hiring, insurance, and "different" driving habits.

However, if you want to bird on your own and just pick our brains then that's fine too from our point of view; just pop up and stay with Frank and Daniela at "Paradise in Portugal" and ask them where the best places are. Faro or Beja are 1 1/2 hours drive away from them, Lisbon about two and a half. They'll give you all the directions you'll need, and you can even get to them easily enough by train as their closest station, Santa Clara a Velha/Saboia lies on the direct line between Faro and Lisbon and is only 20 minutes away from their Quinta.

However, if you want to hire a car, here's our hard-won advice regarding the Hire car market here in Portugal.

There are many services available on the web, but the ones we've found best are Carjet and Europcar. There are also several sites that compare prices to get you the best deal; www.bluevalleycarhire.com is particularly good - and supported us handsomely in our fight to save Salgados,  - and there's another one called Argus Car Hire. However, if you do elect to go for a cheaper option, make sure you know exactly which company will actually be supplying your vehicle and steer clear of the cowboys. There's normally a reason they're cheap and it usually has something to do with cutting corners.

Please be careful when hiring cars; check the tyre treads before you leave their premises, and if you book one with air-con, make sure it works and doesn't just blow warm air at you etc ... A "Full/Full" fuel policy is normally the best at saving you money and normally denotes a bona fide company; I'm talking from experience here! There are some real rogue companies out there that will spoil your break and if in any doubt please just give us a ring. One company to definitely be aware of and avoided like the plague is Goldcar; we have had guests whose whole holiday was ruined by this company, and they had to queue for hours for the privilege.