Bura Bootcamp: Surfing, Hiking and Yoga

My legs feel like the muscles have turned to lead as I climb the stairs to the Bura rooftop. Crawling from the sweet cocoon of my bunk a serious battle after 3 days on the Bura Bootcamp. But the sun salutations were calling, and lying on the roof in Shavasana doesn’t seem a bad alternative to sleeping.

In the distance I can hear the town of Lagos slowly waking and a chorus of birdsong summoning the sun from her hiding place. A soft orange hue begins to colour-in the surrounding whitewashed buildings and they appear to glow in the morning light.

Miri, a sun goddess in her own right sits cross-legged and fresh faced in the corner of the rooftop. An absolute bronzed diva, I can see why all the women want to be her, and the men want to be with her. She has a figure we could only aspire to, and the aura of a true Zen master.

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We start our sunrise sun salutations and summon this golden globe into the beginning of our day. Our tired bodies begin to warm, and as the sun greets us she promises another stellar day in paradise on the Bura Bootcamp.

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Yoga in paradise is certainly not the first thing that would spring to mind when hearing the dreaded words of “BOOT CAMP”. Perhaps you imagine getting beasted by men in khaki pants? Running multiple flights of stairs whilst wearing bags of bricks? Or perhaps something more along the lines of the “The Biggest Loser” TV show?

Yet this was exactly what the Bura Bootcamp was all about, alongside super fun surf expeditions, adventurous cliff top hikes, and a spot of paddle boarding. Hence why I jumped at the chance to swap four days of annual leave for what appeared to be a week of exercise. Let’s face it; it was certainly going to beat the monotonous bore and endless battle of the daily (cough weekly) gym routine. Not to mention a heinous London commute.

DAY ONE: Yoga and Surfing

“It’s the mighty Atlantic”, they said. “It’s going to be cold and the surf’s f#$%ing huge”.

The kind words of my colleagues as I waved goodbye from the office.

But alas they were wrong. Very wrong indeed. As we arrived at Zaviel beach, all we could see was glassy ocean and silent perfection. The midday sun was burning down from above, and the view couldn’t have been more serene.

Our host Clem points out where the beach is.
Our host Clem showing us where the beach is.

While there were no waves – knee high at best, we were armed with the ideal tool to battle this situation. “Foamies”. These foam-topped beginner surfboards are definitely not the epitome of cool. You look like a kook and won’t be winning any sass awards, but you can catch the smallest of waves on them and wont mind spending a day goofing around.

Kitted out with our foamies, 5mm wetsuits, and GoPros shoved down our backs we barreled off down the beach for a bundle of laughs. Hours of fun were to be had, and our lunch in between consisted of chip and ham sandwiches and a handful of melted chocolate biscuits. Ideal. I felt like I was reliving my youth again.Surfboards on the roof

Me in my natural habitat
Me in my natural habitat
surfer selfie zariel
Hanging with Rachel Rosser – chief surf photographer and fellow bootcamper

Struggling to carry such a big board

Surfing Beach warm-up

lineup surfing in Algarve

surfing bootcamp in lagos

surfing bootcamp portugal relax

To top it all off, turns out we were at a nudist beach. Out the corner of our eyes we spot the occasional free willy while we frolicked around in our jet black wetsuits like beached whales. A day full of character, we retreated to the hostel in the early evening thoroughly shattered and 100% happy.


The morning starts hazy after another disturbed sleep thanks to a snorer who’s blocked nasal passages reverberated the hostel room like an earthquake. We traipse upstairs for our Zen awakening and again let the yoga queen melt our icy souls.

Feeling grounded and revitalized our smiles are then returned by an unbeatable breakfast of banana pancakes, seasonal fresh fruit with strawberries as sweet as candyfloss. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the Portuguese coffee but I guess they can’t have it all. We sit around and share stories with the staff, and it’s impossibly hard to distinguish who’s a guest and who’s a regular cause everyone is so relaxed.

Then, post breakfast is spent with a few hours of free time ahead of our personal training session – the perfect amount of time for a cheeky bob around the pool on a blow up mattress we’d acquired, and a few sly cannonballs. relaxing in the pool

Rachel doing bombs

We speculate what our PT Nick has in store for us, and pray to the gods that it’s anything but running. But alas even worse: squats, burpees, lunges, and pushups on the roof in the midday sun. We laugh while secretly questioning our choices, and stare enviously across at the rock-solid abs of our friend from Macedonia. Our own set of abs were the end goal, but one that seemed shockingly unrealistic.

With shaky legs and happy hearts we then wait for TJ to arrive – our guide for the afternoon’s adventure hike. This hike was so spectacular and moving it deserves its own post. You’ll find part two here. 

We set off to a place thought for millennia to be the actual End of the World, and a place that still today feels like it might be…

View of Western Portugal. surfing bootcamp