Azores, Portugal Azores, Portugal Azores, Portugal  

Azores, Portugal
September 1-8, 2021

Located in the North Atlantic Ocean and about 1,000 miles west of Lisbon and 5 hours from North America’s east coast, the Azores archipelago is a series of nine volcanic islands. The formation of these islands began over 8 million years ago. The Azores were uninhabited when the Portuguese navigators arrived in the early 15th century and then settlement began around 1440 with migrants from the mainland of Portugal who were trying to escape the Portuguese inquisition.

Azores, PortugalAlmost half of the entire population (250,000) of the Azores live on the island of Sao Miguel. The capital city of the Azores is Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel. Ponta Delgada looks to a wide bay with a harbor filled with sailboats. The city is dotted with the typical Portuguese architecture of black and white regional stone structures-- monasteries, museums, and churches overlooking parks and gardens. Ponta Delgada and the locally owned Casa das Palmeiras is our base for discovering Europe’s best-kept secret.

Surrounded by a wide expanse of ocean and influenced by the Gulf Stream, the climate of the Azores is mild and pleasant at all times of the year. That is not to say it does not rain, it does rain but rain gives way to sunshine rather quickly. Daytime temps are 65-70F and night around 60F.

Both the landscape and sea location provide for a diversity of activities. There are the calderas, crater lakes of blues and greens in the Sete Cidades and Fogo Lake regions; the Furnas valley with its mineral springs and gardens; cozido das Furnas( huge pots of stew are lowered into the volcanic earth and ready to eat 6 hrs. later); and whale watching in one of the world’s premier whale watching destinations. We will visit a tea plantation---the only one in Europe-- see pineapple greenhouses and along the way see multiple herds of lovely dairy cows.

When you tell friends you are going to the Azores, you will no doubt get many quizzical looks. Just tell them you are going to an exquisitely beautiful island lying between Boston and Lisbon and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean!

  Azores, Portugal Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal
Azores, Portugal

Day by Day Overview

Wednesday, September 1 – I will arrange transfers to our hotel for those arriving on the morning Azores Airlines flight from Boston. Check into our rooms at Casa das Palmeiras and have a rest.

1:30: Depart on foot from the hotel for Ponta Delgada city tour. The distinctive architecture of whitewash and black basalt lend Ponta Delgada a monochrome complexion, but this is a town full of colorful character. We will visit the local market, the City Gates (Portas da Cidade), and Sao Sebastiao church. Our walk takes us to São Francisco square where Esperança Convent is located. The convent chapel is associated with the cult of the Christ of Miracles, the patron of the biggest religious festivities in the archipelago. The town tour concludes with a visit to Carlos Machado Museum. Walk back to the hotel.

Lodging: Casa das Palmeiras -

Thursday, September 2 – Viola Beach walk with visit to tea plantation
This trail on the North coast of the island connects the villages of Lomba da Maia and Maia. Our hike takes us to one of the most beautiful natural beaches of the archipelago. We will see remains of water mills that were once used for grinding wheat and corn into flour. Bread was a staple of the diet of the many families of this village and of the island. We visit the Tobacco Museum housed in a former tobacco factory in Maia. This tobacco factory was once the largest employer in the area.

Tea growing was introduced in the Azores in the beginning of the 19th century. The climate in São Miguel proved to be well suited for the tea crops. We drive to one of the local tea plantations for a short walk and visit to the factory, followed by a tea service at the owner’s house. Our day concludes with a stop in Ribeira Grande to visit the Museum of the Azorean Emigration. You’ll find some surprises here! Return to the hotel in Ponta Delgada.

Distance today: 4 miles; elevation gain: 200 feet. Additional time in transport.

Friday, September 3 – - Furnas Lake, "Cozido das Caldeiras" and Terra Nostra Garden
This trail begins and ends in the village of Furnas. The trail passes along the lakeside where the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias is located then circles the lake on an easy path. When we get to Caldeiras da Lagoa, we will see various restaurants taking advantage of the high temperatures in the ground to cook traditional dishes. Lunch will be the local specialty, "Cozido das Caldeiras", a stew with assorted meats and vegetables cooked for about 7 hours with geothermal heat!

Our day continues with a visit to Terra Nostra Garden which features a wide variety of trees and plants from all over the world and a thermal swimming pool with ferrous water. Return to our hotel.

Distance today: 6 miles; minimal elevation gain. Additional bus transport time.

Saturday, September 4 – Morning Whale Watching; Free afternoon
We depart on foot from the hotel to walk to the harbor. Lying in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores islands are a permanent home or point of passage for more than a third of the world´s whale and dolphin species. Sperm whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Risso´s dolphins are present all year round. Other species visit or pass by during specific seasons. The whale watching activity, is done by a professional team of lookouts, skippers and biologists. Before we depart there is a briefing including information about the species we may see and the Azorean Whale Watching code of ethics.

Sunday, September 5 – Sanguinho walk and Nordeste
This walk takes place at the north-east part of the island, in Faial da Terra. The trail begins next to the stream Ribeira do Faial da Terra, crosses several small orchards on the banks of the creek and passes by a beautiful waterfall. We reach the now restored village of Sanginho. This village was abandoned in the 60s and 70s due to emigration to the Americas. Nowadays the village is restored with buildings and farm holdings typical of the period prior to its being deserted. The tour will continue with a stops at the village of Nordeste and Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Park.

Monday, September 6 - Mata do Canário walk and Sete Cidades
Our hike begins in the area surrounding Canário Woods and nearby Muro das Nove Janelas (nine windows wall). This wall was once a stone aqueduct used for the water supply of public fountains in the city of Ponta Delgada. Along the path we have wide panoramic views of the north and south coasts of São Miguel and in the background, the Serra de Água de Pau. Our path follows the ridgeline of the Lagoa Azul (lagoon) with sights to Sete Cidades crater and Santiago lakes. The trail ends at Sete Cidades village.

Leaving Sete Cidades we have a scenic drive along the northwest part of the island passing by several small villages to reach Capelas. Here we visit Oficina Museu, a museum of a private collection of what would have been typical stores and shops of an old Azorean street with all its trades.

Distance today: 8 miles; elevation gain: about 500 feet

Tuesday, September 7 – Lagoa do Fogo walk and pineapple plantation
(08h15: Departure from the hotel by 4x4)

Our hike today is a roundtrip along the banks of Lagoa do Fogo. This lake is one of the largest of the inland lakes of the Azores. The lake (or caldera) was formed by the collapse of the top of a volcano some 5,000 year ago. We have a “steepish” climb to the rim of the caldera, continue our walk along the rim and then return the way we came. The hike takes us by farm lands, pastures, fields and woods. Along the way we see several endemic flora such as Azorean Blueberry, Azorean Heather, Azores laurel, St John’s wort and Mediterranean spurge. Birds of the area are kites, Azorean buzzard, grey wagtail and Azores wood pigeon. On the way back we have a magnificent view over the South Coast of the island to the islet of Vila Franca.

We drive back to Ponta Delgada by bus to visit a local pineapple plantation. While the temperatures in Azores do not allow the pineapples to develop naturally, the locals found a very innovative way to produce pineapple: in greenhouse--- extremely tasty and faster than the usual way. Return to the hotel.

Distance today: 8 Miles, medium difficulty with some steep ascents at the start then a long downhill...poles are definitely needed. Transfer from Ponta Delgada to the trail (one way) will be in 4x4 vehicles to transport as far as possible along the initial steep track of the trail.

Wednesday, September 8 - Breakfast and departure to Ponta Delgada airport around 3PM. The current Azores Airline departure to Boston is late afternoon. This day will be free time to do last shopping, organizing and packing. Transport provided for the Azores flight to Boston.

Please Note: The above schedule is subject to change due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control.