Azores Island Hopping
|Azores Island Hopping
Discover the best of five Azores unspoilt islands; Sao Miguel, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial. This gentle walking holiday explores the beautiful and varied landscapes; crater lakes, extinct volcanoes, vineyards, thermal springs and craggy coastlines.
Sete Cidades – Crater walk with stunning views of the twin blue and green lakes
Day 1 Join trip in Ponta Delgada, on the island of Sao Miguel
Arrive in Ponta Delgada, Located on the harbour of Sao Miguel, the Azores largest island, Ponta Delgada is a charming historic city with narrow cobbled streets and some interesting buildings worth a visit, such as the Municipal city hall with its reflecting pool in the city centre of Baixa.
Day 2 Walk around Sete Cidades, see the colourful crater lakes
Basing ourselves at Ponta Delgada, the island’s capital, we spend our first 3 days exploring Sao Miguel – the largest of the islands we visit. We use a mixture of local and private buses to transfer us to and from our walks. For our first day walking we drive to Sete Cidades. From here we walk within and around some of the crater to Vista do Rei to view the splendid blue and green lakes before returning to Ponta Delgada by bus later that afternoon.
Today’s eight kilometre walk is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours with 270 metres of ascent and descent.
Day 3 Enjoy lakeside walk and lunch amongst volcanic scenery
Our second days walking begins by driving to the north side of the island. We make a stop at Gorreana, Europe’s oldest and only remaining tea factory and continue to Lagoa das Furnas. Here we take a short walk of approximately forty-five minutes on the shores of the lake, stopping to see the natural ovens (cavities in the rock). Here in the huge hollow of Furnas Valley, diverse volcanic activity has also created thermal springs and boiling mud pools. Today we have an included lunch – a traditional Cozido cooked in the volcanic fumeroles. We also have time to visit the botanical gardens of Terra Nostra, planted over 200 years ago, with an outdoor thermal pool where we can bathe (optional). Back on the bus we continue to a viewpoint to Lagoa de Fogo, the islands highest crater lake, where we will stop to take photos before continuing back to Ponta Delgada.
Day 4 Free day; optional boat trip to look for whales
Today is left free to explore more of the island on and off shore. You may wish to do one of the many walks around the island however another option is to take a whale searching trip or to swim with the dolphins.
Today’s optional four-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours.
Day 5 Fly to Terceira Island, explore Angra do Heroismo town
An inter-island flight brings us to the island of Terceira. During our stay here, our base will be the small harbour settlement of Praia da Vitoria. After transferring to our hotel, we cross the island by local transport to the largest settlement on Terceira, the old town of Angra do Heroismo. An afternoon here gives us time to explore the town, with its distinctive architecture, its cathedrals and churches. Angra was the first settlement in the Azores to receive city status, in 1534, and remains one of the finest examples of Renaissance town planning. It was the Azores seat of government until the early 19th century and its palaces and churches are the legacy of it’s supremacy. A walk up to the fort gives good views over the harbour and the narrow streets of the old town are well worth exploring at your own pace. Other options this afternoon include walking the circular trail to Monte Brasil (visible from the town) or to visit the Algar do Carvao caves, the only volcanic pit you can visit in the world, before returning to Praia.
Today’s optional seven-and-a-half kilometre walk to Monte Brasil is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours.
Day 6 Coastal walk to Biscoitos
Using local transport, we head for the northern regions of the island, which we will explore on foot. From Quatro Ribeiras an easy walk follows the contours of the coast with marvellous views out to sea. We arrive at Biscoitos, where there is the chance to swim in the lava rock pools. In the late afternoon we return to Praia da Vitoria by local bus.
Today’s twelve-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around three-and-a-half hours with 320 metres of ascent and 465 metres of descent.
Day 7 Fly to Sao Jorge Island, free time to explore Velas town
There may be some free time in Praiada Vitoria, depending on the flight time, before we take the short flight to Sao Jorge. This curiously elongated island is some 56 km long, but only 8 km wide, having been created by a series of linear volcanic eruptions. The island remained almost isolated for many centuries, due to the lack of shelter offered to ships. After transferring to our hotel, we are free to wander the streets of the small maritime community of Velas, where we are based. Alternatively we can take an optional walk to the old whale watching tower which is positioned on a volcanic crater from where we can enjoy views down on to Velas town (2hrs).
Day 8 Walk through Caldeira de Cima gorge down to the coast
We can spend two full days walking on Sao Jorge, a place of precipitous cliffs, narrow valleys and tiny coves. On our first day, using local taxis we’ll head from Velas to the north side of the island. A stunning walk starting from the 700m high ridge of Sao Jorge leads us through the beautiful gorge of the Caldeira de Cima and down to the coast. From here we follow the rocky coastline and walk to Faja dos Cubres. Fajas are the small plains at the foot of the steep coastal cliffs which are dotted with traditional hamlets and fertile orchards.
Today’s 12 kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with 600 metres of ascent and descent.
Day 9 Free day; choice of optional walks
Our second day is left free for optional walks, and your tour leader will advise on the various possibilities. Views of the surrounding islands are excellent from Pico da Esperanca ridge walk (1053m) in the centre of the island, while a walk along the fajas on the south coast of the island offers a contrast in scenery from the north.
Today’s optional 12.7 kilometre ridge walk is expected to take around three-and-a-half hours.
Day 10 Ferry to Pico Island, free time to explore local area
This morning we take a boat to Pico and transfer to our accommodation at Madalena. The rest of the day is free to explore this small fishing port, or perhaps take a walk through the coastal vineyards or visit the Grota do Torres Lava Tunnel.
Today’s optional five kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours.
Day 11 Coastal walk to Lajes, optional boat trip
Pico is dominated by its volcano, Pico Alto, reaching up to 2350m. The island covers some 42 km by 16 km. For those interested in the history of the island, there are many small fishing ports, several with reminders of the old whaling industry once so vital to the island. Today’s walk is along the south coast of Pico. We walk to the village of Lajes, which has a small whaling museum. There is the opportunity to take a whale-watching trip (optional) from Lajes to spot sperm whales as well as several species of dolphins.
Today’s six-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours with 450 metres of ascent and descent.
Day 12 Free morning for optional walks, take the ferry to Faial Island
The morning is free to do another walk or for an ascent of Pico, a very strenuous and steep 6-7 hour climb. Those interested in walking can take taxis part way up Pico Alto, from where there are fine views across the straits to Faial, while behind the peak of the volcano rises into the clouds. There are dozens of small volcanic cones on the slopes of Pico Alto and some caves created by past lava flows to explore for example, Furnas Frei Mateus. There are magnificent and unforgettable vistas of neighbouring islands. In the afternoon, we cross by boat to the charming island of Faial, where the harbour is often full of yachts, half way through their transatlantic crossing.
Today’s optional 12.7 kilometre walk to Frei Mateus is expected to take around three-and-a-half hours with 1,020 metres of ascent and descent. The eight kilometre ascent and descnet of Pico, with a local guide, is expected to take tree hours each way.
Day 13 Full day excursion of the island. Walks at the Caldeira and Capelinhos volcano
Today we explore the Ilha Azul, taking a tour of the island. We head to the stunning Caldeira often shrouded in cloud, where we view the lush green-carpeted crater and walking along its edge (the Calderia trail will take approximately two-and-a-half hours to walk). The views over the island are particularly impressive in summer, when the wild blue hydrangeas that form many of the hedges are in flower. We then continue to the western end of the island to visit the Capelinhos volcano, now extinct, here there are some walking trails which we could take or visit the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre. Later we return to Horta, an attractive little town with some good restaurants.
Today’s optional five-and-a-half kilometre walk to Varadouro is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours.
Day 14 Trip ends in Horta, Faial Island
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Horta.