Walking the Best of the Azores

Maximum group size - 17

Tour Highlights

The Azores (a region of Portugal) are a lush green archipelago in the mid-Atlantic with dramatic landscapes, fishing villages, green pastures and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas.

The five islands we’ll visit offer breathtaking mountains, quiet valleys, enchanting lakes in extinct craters and wonderful coasts lined with picturesque villages and historical towns. The pace of life in the Azores is relaxed, so while we explore these islands we will have time to savour their pleasures. Our walks are designed for avid walkers, however they are relaxed and provide ample time to appreciate the beauty of the scenery, history and culture. 
Tour Highlights: 

  • Sao Miguel Island: Walking tour of Ponta Delgada, Full day “Geo Tour” to Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake) and Caldeira Velha, with some free time in the spa village.

  • Faial Island: Island tour including Caldeira, a walk to Cabeco Gordo view point, Monte Guia, Porto Pim and a whale and dolphin watching cruise.

  • Pico Island: Walk from Frei Matias through lush countryside to Madelana, Quinta das Rocas Garden and a taste of Pico wine and cheese.

  • Sao Jorge Island: Tour of Velas, the “Three Fajas Walk” (known as the best walk in the Azores), and the “Spine Walk” between the green crater peaks .

  • Terceira Island: Tour of Angra do Heroismo, the Algar do Carvao (Cavern of Coal), the wine region of Biscoitos and Praia’s bird reserve.

  • Excursion to Sete Cidades Crater Lake and village, and the volcanic basin of Furnas including the Parque Terra Nostra gardens.

 ***Participants must be able to complete up to 14km of walking on varied terrain.

Tentative Itinerary

We fly to Sao Miguel - a direct flight from Toronto.
We arrive and transfer to our hotel in Ponta Delgada for an early check-in and breakfast. This afternoon we have a walking tour of Ponta Delgada, through the cobbles streets of the old city, passing the fortress of Sao Bras, the 17th-century Baroque Igreja do Colegio, the cathedral of Largo Martires and city gates. We’ll stop at a cafe at the marina for a coffee. This evening is our Welcome Dinner.
(2km with no ascent). On our full-day Geo Tour a local geologist will explain how the island was formed and how various eruptions have changed the landscape. We’ll stop at Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lakes), a crater lake that forms one of the island’s 3 volcanoes, then have lunch and free time in the village of Caldeiras. There will be short walks throughout the day. Later we fly to Faial.
Today we explore Faial (known as the “Blue Isle”) by bus and on foot. We start with a short drive to the caldera in the centre of the island, where we can walk from the view point to the island’s highest point. Then we drive to the coast and Capelinhos, site of the Azores last volcanic eruption in 1957. There are options for short walks in the area and a visit to the Capelinhos Museum, which tells the story of the eruption.
We’ll walk to the ferry and cross over to Pico - the most volcanic island, dominated by the impressive volcanic cone of Pico Alto - Portugal’s highest point. On Pico our walk begins near a small cave called Frei Matias, and follows paths of cinder gradually descending to Madalena, passing fertile fields and Quinta das Rocas Gardens. After the walk we’ll go to the guide’s adega and try Pico wine and cheese, then ferry back to Faial. There will be an option to ascend Mt. Pico - the highest mountain in the Atlantic (only recommended in clear weather).
We enjoy a walk to Monte Guia and Porto Pim, and in the afternoon we enjoy a whale and dolphin watching cruise.
We ferry over to Sao Jorge for a 3-night stay in Velas, the island’s lovely capital. This afternoon we’ll walk from the hotel to the small volcanic cone and the Chapel of Senhora Livramento. En route we’ll stop at a beach where we can swim or snorkel in the warm Atlantic waters.
Purported to be the best walk in the Azores, it begins at the top of the island and descends 700m to sea level through some of the Azores’ most beautiful scenery. The hydrangea-lined path takes you through ‘forests’ of tree heather down to Faja do Santo Cristo where ‘clams’ are farmed in the sweetwater lagoon. We continue through two more “fajas” (volcanic debris fields) before ending at the café in Faja dos Cubres.
This high-level walk follows a cinder track along the spine of the island between the lush green crater peaks (including the highest, Pico da Esperanca). When it’s clear, there are spectacular views over the sea and the other islands. The walk undulates across the top of the island, then descends to Norte Grande. From here we can transfer to Faja Ouvidor for a refreshing dip in the sea!
We fly to Terceira and transfer to the Pousada Sao Sebastao in Angra do Heroismo (this city is a UNESCO Historic World Heritage Site). Our hotel is by the harbour, a short walk from the historic city centre. Later we’ll walk in the town with its wonderful 17th and 18th century architecture, meticulously restored after the 1980 earthquake. Those wanting to walk further can continue up to the volcanic cone of Monte Brasil where there is an old fortress, chapel and whale lookout post.
A full day tour of Terceira with some short walks. The centre of the island is a mix of pristine juniper forests and areas of dense sphagnum moss. A highlight is Algar do Carvao (Cavern of Coal) - a volcanic lava tube with a cathedral-like dome. Those wanting to explore the depths of the volcano can follow a well-lit tunnel to the small lake at the bottom. From here we proceed to the wine growing region of Biscoitos, known for its Verdelho wines.
We return to Sao Miguel and our Ponta Delgada hotel. Afternoon at leisure.
We drive to the famous crater lake known as Sete Cidades (Seven Cities), the largest in the Azores. The rim is covered in lush vegetation of Himalayan ginger and blue hydrangea hedges. Our walking path offers wonderful views down towards the mystical blue and green lakes, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.
We drive to the volcanic basin of Furnas - a volcanic hot spot where it is possible to see pools of boiling mud and sulphurous steam being forced out of the ground. We’ll walk around Furnas Lake before heading down to the Parque Terra Nostra and its thermal pool for a swim. The garden here is one of the world’s finest.
We fly back to Canada - direct to Toronto.

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