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Walking in the Azores

from $2,449.00

Trek on Europe’s undiscovered volcanic archipelago

  • Reviews 3 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Moderate
    5/8
  • Group Size Small Group
    4 - 16
All about the Walking in the Azores.

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.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts and 5 lunches
* 7 nights accommodation in *** hotels
* All transport (incl. internal flights) and listed activities
* Internal flights (included)
* Arrival & departure transfers (at designated times)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

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
  1. Day 1 Start Ponta Delgada.

    Start Ponta Delgada.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 Café 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 today’s 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.

  4. 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).

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

    From Horta’s 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).

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Day 8 End Ponta Delgada.

    End Ponta Delgada**

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Where you stay

Premium Hotels

During the week our nights are split between two fantastic 4-star hotels. In the heart of Ponta Delgada is the Hotel Marina Atlantico. Right on the sea front, this new hotel is ideally located to explore the capital of the Azores and offers a modern twist in a traditional part of town. On Faial we use the excellent Hotel Horta. Affording spectacular views towards the neighboring island of Pico, this hotel with garden and pool is within walking distance to the harbor and is the perfect place to relax after a day’s walking in and around the surrounding islands.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 5 lunches are included.

Breakfasts are buffet style with a variety on offer including bread, jams, cereals, and tea and coffee. Some of the lunches provided are picnic style, whilst others are taken at traditional restaurants where we can sample some traditional dishes such as the Cozido das Coldeiras. In the evening, the leader will recommend local restaurants that serve traditional Azores food, which can be a selection of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice. Vegetarians are well catered for in Azores as long as the hotels are advised in advance.

This is a moderate walking trip (activity level 3).

These moderately graded walks are either fairly easy medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. Timings stated exclude lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of our group.
The paths we use are generally flat and well maintained but some of the routes cross rougher terrain with longer ascents and descents. Some of the paths are quite narrow with stony underfoot and require walking in single file. On some occasions you will be walking on more coarse volcanic rock, so it is advised to be used to walking in more durable walking boots, especially over these sections.
The area is also subject to rain and high winds at any time so it is best to be prepared for this before you travel. On departures in May and September, it is best to bring warm clothes in case of colder weather.

Please note that the internal flights are included in the trip and booked by Breakaway. As inter-island flights are operated by small planes with limited capacity, we can’t guarantee that the whole group will be allocated on the same flight. If alternative travel arrangements are necessary, these will be notified and discussed upon booking.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference:

https://www.breakaway-adventures.com/Breakaway_wt_fitness_training_guide.pdf

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Truly Wonderful

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whales.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    I have to tell you about the guide: Nuno Garcia. He is the nicest, most considerate and patient guide we have ever encountered. He was full of fun and always there to help anyone who needed it. He would stand at the harbour smiling and waving as we left to whale watch and he would be there ready with a smile and a wave when we returned. An excellent guide in every way.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a variety of clothing because the weather can be very changeable.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Lovely walks in varied and interesting locations

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many wonderful views and no one that absolutely stands out. Laughing with Bruno and the group is a great tonic
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Bruno as already mentioned could not have been more interesting , engaging and fun. as a group leader He excelled in holding the group dynamics so that we had fun together but also walked at a pace which suited all.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a full on trip with little spare time or stops. That said, the walking though some longer but gentle uphill was paced well. The long ( 2 hours) down hill is challenging on the knees so would advise poles and decent rough terrain footwear. Take an additional small (folding variety backpack) to leave on the coach for swim wear. If prone to travel sickness take medication and be prepared to take it 2 hours before the late evening ferry trip ( 2 hour choppy trip)

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Wonderful week in the Azores

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is hard to pick one moment - overall seeing how people have made these volcanic islands into beautiful locations is what impressed me.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Bruno was amazing! His knowledge and enthusiasm were infectious, and definitely made the trip above average.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The level of this trip was more difficult than I expected - it was trekking than walking. I'm a good walker, so distance wasn't an issue, but the terrain was often steep . One suggestion for the packing list: a towel is needed for the swimming opportunities.

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