Walking in the Azores

Resort: Walking in the Azores
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Europe
Price From: £2079.00

Overview


Trek on Europe’s undiscovered volcanicarchipelago

 

It is hard to believe that the Azores are part of Europe. Born from the
immensity of the Atlantic Ocean, this lush green archipelago of volcanic
islands is a far cry from its mainland government of Portugal. Be it pocked
with steep craters, a haven for wildlife or a place of historic interest,
each of the nine islands is quite unique and ideally explored on foot. We
visit the very best that four of these islands have to offer, walking through
UNESCO vineyards, lava plateaux (or ‘fajas’) and sunken volcanoes.

Highlights

* Visit and explore four unique islands
* Enjoy vineyards, volcanoes and hot springs
* Walk around the tranquil waters of Lagoa do Fogo
* Optional whale watching on the free day

Itinerary

Day 1
Fly to Sao Miguel island; transfer to hotel in Ponta Delgada.

Fly to Sao Miguel island; transfer to hotel in Ponta Delgada.

Day 2
Walk around Lake Furnas; afternoon visit to Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens
and tea plantations.

We start the week with a transfer to Furnas where we walk around the crater
lake. Here food is sometimes cooked by the heat of vents after it has been
buried in sealed pots in the baking earth. This traditional Azorian way of
cooking is known as ‘Cozido das Caldeiras’ and will be served for lunch. In
the afternoon we head into the Terra Nostra botanical gardens where we have
time to wander through and admire exotic flowers and trees from all over the
globe. Amongst the trees and bushes a series of aquaducts leads thermal
spring water to a pool in the centre of the gardens, where for centuries
people have been bathing in its medicinal waters. On the return to Ponta
Delgada we stop off at the tea plantations of Gorreana where we observe the
plantation, the factory and taste some of the local teas.

Day 3
Morning flight to Faial; visit to Scrimshaw Museum and trek from Trupes do
Capelo to the Capelinhos volcano.

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a short flight to Faial
island, known as the ‘blue island’ because of the large quantity of
hydrangeas that bloom during the summer months. After landing, we transfer to
Peter’s Caf Sport, a traditional resting point for many sailors braving the
Atlantic crossing. Here we will be guided round one of the largest scrimshaw
collections in the world that shows the variations of designs with an art
form that was prolific during the whaling period.

After lunch, we take a short transfer to forest park or ‘Trupes do Capelo’,
the start of todays short hike. Throughout this trail you may appreciate a
great ecologic and geologic diversity that characterizes the Natural Park.
The trail finishes at the Capelinhos Volcano. Rising forcefully from the sea
this volcano shows off just how dramatic nature can be. Its unique formation
has even earnt it the construction of a modern interpretative centre which
helps us understand not only this volcano but the formation of the entire
island. In the late afternoon we transfer to our comfortable hotel, our base
for the next three nights.

Day 4
Day trip to Pico; walk through UNESCO heritage site of the Santa Luzia
Vineyards or take an optional climb to the summit.

As we cross by ferry the imposing figure of Mount Pico, Portugal’s largest
peak, dominates the landscape. Pico is also known as the ‘black island’ due
to the black volcanic earth which is used to construct the walls of many of
the UNESCO vineyards that this island is famed for. Once in the island, we
head out on our first walking tour of the Santa Luzia Vineyards.Azorean
vineyards are a sight to behold. Built to protect the precious vines from a
battering of the harsh sea winds, the result is row after row of black
horseshoe shapes that score the lush green coastline. What is more impressive
is how the vine grows on the ground and through volcanic rock, rather than
supported by a trellis though soil. Alternatively, if you you prefer to use
your time in Pico to join an optional challenging summit trek to the top of
Portugal’s largest mountain, then today is the perfect opportunity to attempt
this! This is a very strenuous 6-7 hour climb which will be led by a local
mountain guide and always subject to availability and weather conditions (for
further information please check the Extra Expenses & Spending Money section
in the Trip Notes).

Day 5
Ferry to Sao Jorge; trek to explore the Faja dos Cubres; evening return to
Faial.

From Hortas harbour we take a ferry to Sao Jorge Island or the ‘Brown
Island’ (please note the ferry sailing times can take from approx 1h40
minutes to approx 2h20 depending on the time of year and can result in last
minute schedule changes). This is by far the longest day in the itinerary but
is well worth it to visit the fourth island of the trip. Sao Jorge is a
fascinating island that cuts through the ocean with steepsided cliffs,
however it is the Fajas (low-lying areas of lava that were formed from the
subsidence of the cliffs) that it is most famed for. Sao Jorge is also well
known throughout the Azores for producing some delicious cheese, which is one
of its main exports. Shortly after arrival in Velas we transfer to the start
of the walking tour from Caldeira do Santo Cristo to Faja dos Cubres. After
arriving at Faja dos Cubres we then take a transfer back to Velas and across
the channel back to Faial. (approx. 2.5 hours walking, distance 10km).

Day 6
Free time for optional whale watching excursion; evening flight to Sao
Miguel.

As today is a free day you have the chance to try out many of the other
activities that the Azores have to offer. Apart from offering some unique
walking opportunities, the Azores is perhaps one of the best places on the
planet to spot whales and dolphins. There are 80 species of whales and
dolphins and 25 of them have been sighted off the coast of the Azores, with
the most common being Sperm Whale. There is also the chance to spot
Bottlenose dolphin, Short-finned pilot whale, Sei whales, Atlantic spotted
dolphin and the grail – the Blue whale. If you choose to go on an excursion,
you will have the chance to observe the behaviour of these cetaceans and
learn more about their habitat with the help of the knowledgeable local
experts on board. We should always respect their environment and therefore
during times of feeding or resting times, we avoid any interference and
maintain our distance. This afternoon or evening we will take a flight back
to Ponta Delgada.

Day 7
Morning transfer to Praia; trek to Lagoa do Fogo; afternoon visit to Sete
Cidades to the Vista do Rei.

After breakfast we head into the lush centre of Sao Miguel to Barrosa’s
mountain where we get a sense of why this island has earned its nickname the
‘green island’. Today’s final walk begins with a short but steep uphill
section and continues following a ‘levada’ (small water channel) close to
which you will find some well preserved species of endemic Azorian flora. The
highlight of this walk is arriving at the viewpoint over the Lagoa do Fogo,
one of the most beautiful volcanic lakes in the entire Azores network. We
stop at Caldeira Velha waterfall for a well earned dip in its warm waters, in
the afternoon we drive to Sete Cidades, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of
Portugal. From Vista do Rei we are rewarded with breathtaking views of
tranquil lakes, blue hydrangeas bordering the crater rim that contrast with
the steep sides of the crater.

Day 8
Transfer to the airport; fly to London.

Transfer to the airport; fly to London.

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