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The Azores Islands are a wild and otherworldly archipelago that only recently emerged as a trending destination. The Azores consist of nine islands: São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, Flores, and Corvo. Each island is distinctly different, and locals claim a lifetime isn’t long enough to fully explore the mysteries and hidden forces shaping the landscapes here.
With barely 5% of its land developed, we explore calderas and caverns, hiking trails and hot springs, lush hillsides and rugged coastlines — making the Azores a must-see locale for nature lovers. Nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands also make this one of the best whale-watching destinations in the Atlantic. Join us on a journey to São Miguel, the largest of the islands, where we explore the historic capital city of Ponta Delgada, hike through verdant volcanic landscapes, soak in mineral-rich hot springs, and embark on a whale and dolphin watching cruise — all while enjoying the local food and culture.
Ponta Delgada City Tour
We meet this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the lobby of our hotel, Casa Hintze Ribeiro, and venture into town for a city tour of Ponta Delgada — the capital of the Azores archipelago. Popular sites include the São Bráz Military Fort, São Francisco Square, important religious landmarks, the city gates, and Mãe de Deus Church. We also have a chance to visit Louvre Micaelense, a charming old hat shop and café, where we can purchase local products and perhaps enjoy some tea or coffee. This evening is free to explore and dine at your leisure.
Casa Hintze RibeiroSan Miguel, Portugal
In the heart of Ponta Delgada’s capital, this boutique gem is surrounded by restaurants, shops and historic sites. It was named after the prominent politician Ernesto Hintze Ribeiro, who was born on this street in 1849, and made major contributions toward the eventual constitutional autonomy of the Azores.
A color palette of blues, beige and greens reflect the sea, land, and forests of Sao Miguel to create a thoroughly modern, chic, and welcoming ambience. This is evident from the breakfast room where cozy sofas tempt you to kick back, to the decor in each of the 22 comfortable rooms. Casa Hintze Ribeiro has a roof-top pool, small gym and hot tub/jacuzzi.
Sete Cidades and Ferraria
Today we explore the west side of São Miguel, and Sete Cidades Lake — considered one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal. On our hike, we learn about the fauna, flora, history, and volcanic formation of the island, and hear the legendary love story behind the formation of the lake. A picnic lunch will be served along the way. After hiking, we drive along the south coast and stop in Ferraria. If the tide permits, we may enjoy a swim in the oceanic pools heated by the surrounding volcanic vents — a wonderful opportunity to relax after our hiking day. This evening is free to relax or explore independently.
Today we experience the volcanic origins of São Miguel in the village of Furnas, a truly magical place. We begin by visiting Lake Calderas, a place where Azoreans cook the famous cozido das Furnas — a special meal cooked underground with the steam of the Earth!
Continuing on, we enjoy a scenic hike that crosses a stream and circles the lakeside, where we'll see a variety of endemic flora species. Next, we visit the town of Furnas, with its fumaroles and hot springs, and enjoy a cozido meal in a local restaurant.
After lunch, we head to the Terra Nostra botanical garden, famous for its extraordinary collection of plants. At the end of the visit, we have the opportunity to bathe in an iron-rich hot spring pool — a relaxing and unique natural spa experience! (Please note: the iron content of the water can stain fabric; we recommend wearing an old bathing suit.)
On the way back to Ponta Delgada, we'll stop at several scenic viewpoints on the North Coast to take in the landscape and enjoy a photo opportunity. Finally, we visit the only tea plantation in Europe, where we tour the working tea factory and of course, taste the tea. Once again, the evening is free to dine at your leisure and rest after the activity-filled day.
Faial da Terra and Salto do Prego
Faial da Terra is a small village in the southeast of São Miguel Island. Today's hike begins on a steep and narrow road that leads to Sanguinho — a village that has been abandoned since the early 1970's and is now being restored. The rest of the trail is in the woods, with short uphill and downhill stretches amid dense and lush vegetation.
Upon reaching Salto do Prego's waterfall, you may choose to take a dip before an afternoon picnic. The return route follows a different trail but with the same terrain. Enjoy a refreshment in town and the opportunity to mingle with the local people before returning to the hotel. The evening is again free to spend as you like.
Whale Watching and Departure
This morning we will transfer to the port to join a whale watching excursion, where we have the opportunity to possibly see some of the more than 25 cetacean species that live in the Azores. While nature offers no guarantees, whales, dolphins, turtles, seabirds, and other marine life are regularly seen.
In the event of inclement weather, we will instead explore a nearby cater lake, or perhaps visit a pineapple plantation. After the tour, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departing flight. Please note: Our earliest arrival to the airport will be at approximately 1:30 p.m., however, we recommend booking a flight after 4 p.m. to allow for any unexpected delays.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Sep 9-13, 2019
Oct 20-24, 2019
$1,595 Per Person
See single supplement policy below.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure, and a positive attitude. The Azores Island Exploration is rated a 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). Portugal's fertile landscapes, rolling hills, and coastal paths offer a range of beautiful scenery and a mix of easy and more challenging terrain. Our walks and hikes take 2 to 5 hours (2 to 7 miles), on trails, with some rocky and steep sections, and some paved streets. Elevation changes range from negligible amounts on our city walks, to an approximate 590' ascent and 1,730' gradual descent on our more challenging days.
Ponta Delgada, São Miguel
Most Convenient Airport for Arrival: Ponta Delgada Airport, Ponta Delgada, Portugal (airport code PDL) Most Convenient Airport for Departure: Ponta Delgada Airport, Ponta Delgada, Portugal (airport code PDL)Meeting Time and Place: 4:00 pm on Day 1 in the lobby of our hotel, Casa Hintze Ribeiro.
Average high temperatures range from upper 70's in the summer to low 60's in the winter, while the average low temperatures range from mid-60's to low 50's. Perhaps most notable is the unpredictability of the islands' weather, as it can change quickly and drastically from warm sunshine to a windy rainstorm. Most days see some rainfall, which gives the islands their lush, verdant landscapes.
The islands of the Azores are characterized by a maritime subtropical climate, with temperate weather year-round. April through October are the best times to visit, for slightly warmer weather and longer, sunnier days.
Portuguese cuisine is all about simple, delicious cooking and fresh ingredients, themes that are present across all geographic regions of the country — including the islands of the Azores.
In general, the expansive, fertile countryside and sweeping coastline mean that grilled seafood, smoked meats, sunripened fruit, and other fresh produce are commonplace. Portugal consumes more rice (arroz) than any other European nation, and its lesser-known savory dishes fall somewhere between a Spanish paella and Italian risotto. Fish is a staple, and you're likely to find everything from cod and cuttlefish to tuna and grilled sea bass — prepared simply with lemon, garlic, and the country's famed olive oil — on most menus.
You'll also see plenty of stews and soups, including alcatra, a traditional beef stew with warm spices; and the unique cozido das furnas — cooked underground with the steam of the earth. Local cheeses, desserts, and wines are ubiquitous. For dessert, traditional favorites such as egg tarts (pastel de nata) and Madeira honey cake (Bolo de mel da Madeira) can be found at most pastry shops. Oenophiles should be certain to try wine from Pico Island's rare, World Heritage vineyards.
Carina came from Ericeira, a charming Portuguese fishing town that is situated about 20 miles northwest of Lisbon. She has a degree in Leisure and Tourism Management and has worked in Switzerland facilitating horse-assisted therapy and event planning. During her free time, she enjoys going to the movies, traveling, and getting together with friends and family. Carina speaks Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and is looking forward to welcoming you to the Azores!
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 2-5 hours per day (4-5 miles).
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Katya d'Angelo
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