Discover the best of five Azores unspoilt islands; Sao Miguel, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Flores 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 Whale watching - Opportunity to take a boat trip alongside whales and dolphins Faja dos Cubres - Follow a hydrangea lined path down to this unique lagoon
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. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Ponta Delgada at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at João Paulo II Airport in Ponta Delgada (PDL) which is around 10 minutes' drive from the hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take a stroll along the harbour front promenade past the 16\\super th\\nosupersub century fort to the marina or visit the Convent and Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Esperança with its unique quadrangular tower.
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 easy eight kilometre walk is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours with 270 metres of ascent and descent.
Our second day exploring Sao Miguel 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.
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, options include the Salto do Cabrito trail (seven-and-a-half kilometres) to the waterfall or a linear route that connects the village of Sao Vicente Ferreira and Calhetas on the north coast (six-and-a-half kilometres). Another option is to take a whale searching trip.
This morning we take a short flight to the island of Flores. On arrival it's just a ten minute walk to our hotel (our luggage is transferred by taxi). After checking in to the hotel we plan to take an orientation walk around Santa Cruz das Flores. The island is well known for an abundance of flowers, it was even named after them, and our walks will be relaxed to allow plenty of time to make the most of the natural environment.
After breakfast today we'll take a short transfer to the village of Lajedo, the starting point for today's walk. We'll be following the PR02 route from Lajedo to Faja Grande. Leaving the village of Lajedo we'll walk north to Mosteiro village, with views of the cliffs a constant to our left. After Mosteiro we'll move inland slightly and continue walking until we reach the beautiful waterfall of Poco da Ribeira do Ferreiro and a small watermill house powered by the water. As we near Faja Grande there are small bathing areas which give us a chance to dip our feet, or alternatively wait until the walk is over and brave the refreshing Atlantic waters! After some time to relax we'll transfer back to the hotel. Today's moderate 13 kilometre walk is expected to take around four to five hours.
An inter-island flight via Horta brings us to the island of Terceira. During our stay here, our base will be the small harbour settlement of Praia da Vitoria. Praia was one of the first points colonized on the island of Terceira and after checking in to our hotel there's time to head out for a stroll its peaceful streets before dinner.
Today we head for the northern regions of the island by private bus. From Quatro Ribeiras the walk follows the contours of the coast with marvellous views out to sea. We arrive at Biscoitos (ther is the option to take the bus for the last section which is along an asphalt road), where there is the chance to swim in the lava rock pools. In the late afternoon we return to Praia da Vitoria stopping at the Serra do cume viewpoint on the way for views over the patchwork interior. Today's moderate 12.5 kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with 320 metres of ascent and 465 metres of descent.
Straight after breakfast this morning we cross the island to the largest settlement on Terceira, the old town of Angra do Heroismo. 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. Time allowing there's also the option to walk a circular trail to Monte Brasil (visible from the town) before before we drive to the airport for our afternoon 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). Today's easy optional seven-and-a-half kilometre walk to Monte Brasil is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours.
We spend two full days walking on Sao Jorge, a place of precipitous cliffs, narrow valleys and tiny coves. On our first day, 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 passing the Caldeira de Santo Cristo Lake walking 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 moderate 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours with 600 metres of descent.
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 (1,053m) 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 moderate optional 12.7 kilometre ridge walk is expected to take around three-and-a-half hours.
This morning, we cross by ferry to the charming island of Faial, where the harbour is often full of yachts, half way through their transatlantic crossing. The remainder of the day is free to stroll the streets and harbour of Horta, there is a circular walk from the hotel on the Monte da Guia headland which provides views over town, our tour leader will provide directions. Our accommodation for the last two nights at the modern Azoris Faial Garden Hotel is a relaxing way to end this walking holiday. Set within an extensive landscaped garden with coastal views and an inviting outdoor swimming pool. Today's optional three-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around one and-a-half hours.
Today we explore the Ilha Azul, taking a tour of the island by private bus. 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 easy optional five-and-a-half kilometre walk to Varadouro is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Horta. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Horta at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Horta Airport (HOR) which is around 15 minutes' drive from the hotel.
13 Break Fast(s) 1 Lunch(es)
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