Start Ponta Delgada.
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a short flight to Pico island. As you come in to land the imposing figure of Mount Pico, Portugal's largest peak, dominates the landscape. Pico is also known as the 'black island' due to it's prominant blanck volcanic earth which is used to construct the walls of many of the UNESCO vinyards that this island is famed for. After checking in to your accommodation (your base for the next four days) we head out on our first walking tour of the Santa Luzia Vineyards. Azorian vinyards are a sight to behold. Built as a means to protect the precious vines from a battering of the harsh sea winds, the result is row after row of black horseshoe shapes that score the lush green coastline. What is more impressive is how the vine grows on the ground and through volcanic rock, rather than supported by a trellis though soil. There will be time to try the wine in the Lagido de Santa Luzia where you will be explained the typical ways of how wines and brandies are produced on the island. On the way back to Sao Roque do Pico we stop off at some of the abandonded settlements that are also made from the volcanic rock (time of trekking: 3 hours).
In the morning we transfer to the Sao Roque harbour where we take a short transfer by ferry (approx 35 minutes) to Sao Jorge island or the 'brown island'. Shortly after arrival in Velas we transfer to the start of the walking tour from Caldeira do Santo Cristo to Faja dos Cubres. Sao Jorge is fascinating spearlike island that cuts through the ocean with steepsided cliffs, however it is the Fajas (low-lying areas of lava that were formed from the subsidence of the cliffs) that it is most famed for. Sao Jorge is also well known throughout the Azores for producing some delicious cheese, which is one of it's main exports. After arriving at Faja dos Cubres we then take a transfer back to Velas and across the channel back to Pico (time of trekking: 2.5 hours).
As today is a free day you have the chance to try out many of the other activities that the Azores have to offer. Apart from offering some unique walking opportunities, the Azores is perhaps one of the best places on the planet to spot whales and dolphins. There are 80 species of whales and dolphins and 25 of them have been sighted off the coast of the Azores, with the most common being Sperm Whale. There is also the chance to spot Bottlenose dolphin, Short-finned pilot whale, Sei whales, Atlantic spotted dolphin and the grail - the Blue whale. If you choose to go on an excursion, you will have the chance to observe the behaviour of these cetaceans and learn more about their habitat with the help of the knowledgeable local experts on board. We should always respect their environment and therefore during times of feeding or resting times, we avoid any interference and maintain our distance. If you feel that you would like to continue walking and have wondered what the view would look like from the top of Portugal's largest mountain then today is the perfect opportunity to attempt this.
Today we bid farewell to Pico island as we take a ferry over to the third of the central Azorian islands, Faial or the 'blue island' because of the large quantity of hydrangeas that bloom during the summer months. At arrival in Horta we transfer to the start of our tour. The trail begins at the forest park or 'Trupes do Capelo' and finishes at the Capelinhos Volcano. Rising forcefully from the sea this volcano shows off just how dramatic nature can be. It's unique formation has even earnt it the construction of a modern interpretative centre which helps us understand not only this volcano but the formation of the entire island. We then return to Horta for a late lunch at Peter's Café Sport, a traditional resting point for many sailors braving the Atlantic crossing. After lunch you will be guided round one of the largest scrimshaw collections in the world that shows the variations of designs with an art form that was prolific during the whaling period. In the late afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Ponta Delgada (time of trekking: 2.5 hours).
After a hearty breakfast we head into the lush centre of Soa Miguel to Barrosa's mountain where we get a sense of why this island has earned its nickname the 'green island'. Today's walk begins with following a 'lavada' (small water channel) close to which you will find some well preserved species of endemic Azorian flora.The highlight of this walk is arriving at the viewpoint over the Lagoa do Fogo, one of the most beautiful volcanic lakes in the entire Azores network. On the return to Ponta Delgada we stop off at Caldeira Velha waterfall for a well earned dip in it's warm waters (time of trekking: 4 hours).
The final day leaves one of the best walks in the Azores till last. Starting in Muro das Quatro Janelas this walk takes you towards Sete Cidades, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. From Vista do Rei, we are rewarded with breath taking views of tranquil lakes, blue hydrangeas bordering the crater rim that contrast with the steep sides of the crater. We then venture into this extinct volcano to visit the pretty village of Sete Cidades with its traditional architecture and verdant pastures. After lunch we head to the town of Furnas where we enjoy lunch cooked from the heat of volcanic vents after it has been buried in sealed pots in the baking earth. This traditional Azorian way of cooking is known as 'Cozido das Caldeiras'. After lunch we head into the Terra Nostra botanical gardens where we have time to wander through and admire exotic flowers and trees from all over the globe. Amongst the trees and bushes a series of aquaducts leads thermal spring water to a pool in the centre of the gardens, where for centries people have been bathing in its medicinal waters. On the return to Ponta Delgada we stop off at the tea plantations of Gorreana where we observe the plantation, the factory and taste some of the local teas. Once back at the hotel we all congregate together for a final farewell meal (time of trekking: 3 hours).
End Ponta Delgada.