Walking in the Azores Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium Adventures
Destinations:
Portugal
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TSZ
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

It is hard to believe that the Azores are part of Europe. Born from the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean, this lush green archipelago of volcanic islands is a far cry from its mainland government of Portugal. Be it pocked with steep craters, a haven for wildlife or a place of historic interest, each of the nine islands is quite unique and ideally explored on foot. We visit the very best that four of these islands have to offer, walking through UNESCO vineyards, lava plateaux (or 'fajas') and sunken volcanoes.

At a Glance

  • 7 nights 4-star hotels, all rooms en suite
  • 5 days guided walking; 1 free day
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 2351m (on optional ascent of Mt. Pico), average 500m
  • Travel by internal flights, private minivan and boats

Trip Highlights

  • Visit and explore four unique islands
  • Enjoy vineyards, volcanoes and hot springs
  • Walk around the tranquil waters of Lagoa do Fogo
  • Optional whale watching on the free day

Is This Trip for You?

This is a moderate walking trip (activity level 3). 

These moderately graded walks are either fairly easy medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. Timings stated exclude lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of our group.
The paths we use are generally flat and well maintained but some of the routes cross rougher terrain with longer ascents and descents. Some of the paths are quite narrow with stony underfoot and require walking in single file. On some occasions you will be walking on more coarse volcanic rock, so it is advidsed to be used to walking in more durable walking boots, especially over these sections.
The area is also subject to rain and high winds at any time so it is best to be prepared for this before you travel. On departures in May and September, it is best to bring warm clothes in case of colder weather.

Please note that the internal flights are included in the trip and booked by Exodus. As inter-island flighs are operated by small planes with limited capacity, we can't guarantee that the whole group will be allocated on the same flight. If alternative travel arrangements are necessary, these will be notified and discussed upon booking.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Ponta Delgada
End City:
Ponta Delgada

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Ponta Delgada.

    Start Ponta Delgada.

  • Day 2

    Walk around Lake Furnas; afternoon visit to Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens and tea plantations.

    We start the week with a transfer to Furnas where we walk around the crater lake. Here food is sometimes cooked by the heat of 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' and will be served for lunch. In the afternoon 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 centuries 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. 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 11 km / 6 miles
  • Day 3

    Morning flight to Pico; walk through UNESCO heritage site of the Santa Luzia Vineyards; afternoon wine tasting.

    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 the black volcanic earth which is used to construct the walls of many of the UNESCO vinyards that this island is famed for. After landing we then head out on our first walking tour of the Santa Luzia Vineyards. Azorian vineyards 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 have explained the typical ways of how wines and brandies are produced on the island. We will then take a ferry across to the neighbouring island of Faial where we check into our hotel in Horta, our base for the next 3 days 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 9 km / 5 miles
  • Day 4

    Ferry to Sao Jorge; trek to explore the Faja dos Cubres; evening return to Faial.

    From Horta’s harbour we take a ferry to Sao Jorge Island or the 'Brown Island' (please note the ferry sailing times can take from approx 1h40 minutes to approx 2h20 depending on the time of year and can result in last minute schedule changes). This is by far the longest day in the itinerary but is well worth it to visit the fourth island of the trip. Sao Jorge is a fascinating 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 its main exports. Shortly after arrival in Velas we transfer to the start of the walking tour from Caldeira do Santo Cristo to Faja dos Cubres. After arriving at Faja dos Cubres we then take a transfer back to Velas and across the channel back to Faial. (approx. 2.5 hours walking, distance 10km).

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 10 km / 6 miles
  • Day 5

    Free day for optional climb to Mt.Pico, half day whale watching excursion or swim with dolphins.

    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, Mount Pico, then today is the perfect opportunity to attempt this!

  • Day 6

    Trek from Trupes do Capelo to the Capelinhos volcano; visit to Scrimshaw Museum; evening flight to Sao Miguel.

    Today we explore the island we have been staying on for the last two days. Faial is known as the 'blue island' because of the large quantity of hydrangeas that bloom during the summer months. 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. (approx. 2.5 hours walking, distance 7km).

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 7 km / 4 miles
  • Day 7

    Morning transfer to Praia; trek to Lagoa do Fogo; afternoon visit to Sete Cidades to the Vista do Rei.

    After breakfast we head into the lush centre of Sao Miguel to Barrosa's mountain where we get a sense of why this island has earned its nickname the 'green island'. Today's final walk begins with a short but steep uphill section and continues following a 'levada' (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. We stop at Caldeira Velha waterfall for a well earned dip in its warm waters, in the afternoon we drive to Sete Cidades, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. From Vista do Rei we are rewarded with breathtaking views of tranquil lakes, blue hydrangeas bordering the crater rim that contrast with the steep sides of the crater. 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7 miles
  • Day 8

    End Ponta Delgada.

    End Ponta Delgada

Please note: it is possible that the order of the itinerary listed above will be changed to ensure the best possible conditions for each activity during the trip. All listed activities and services will be included. Your leader will inform you of any changes locally after assessing conditions.

Accommodation

Premium Hotels

During the week our nights are split between two fantastic 4-star hotels. In the heart of Ponta Delgada is the Hotel Marina Atlantico. Right on the sea front, this new hotel is ideally located to explore the capital of the Azores and offers a modern twist in a traditional part of town. On Faial we use the excellent Hotel do Canal. Affording spectacular views towards the neighbouring island of Pico, this modern hotel sits just 100 metres from the harbour and is the perfect place to relax after a day's walking in and around the surrounding islands.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £425.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts and 5 lunches are included.

Breakfasts are buffet style with a variety on offer including bread, jams, cereals, and tea and coffee. Some of the lunches provided are picnic style, whilst others are taken at traditional restaurants where we can sample some traditional dishes such as the Cozido das Coldeiras. In the evening, the leader will recommend local restaurants that serve traditional Azores food, which can be a selection of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice. Vegetarians are well catered for in Azores as long as the hotels are advised in advance.

Transportation

Transport to and from the airport is by private minibus, which will also transport baggage between hotels. Between some of the islands we use the local ferry service. Please note transport for optional activities is not included but will be of the same quality.

Internal flights are in either 37 or 80-seater propeller planes and are included in the price of the trip, also for Land Only clients. As the inter-island flighs are operated by small planes with limited capacity, we can't guarantee that the whole group will be allocated on the same flight. If alternative travel arrangements are necessary, these will be notified and discussed upon booking.

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

Azores enjoys a privileged climate with its temperate softened by the gentle influence of the Gulf Stream. Temperatures do not vary by much and the average is 13 degC in winter and 23degC in summer. Water temperature varies a little oscillating between 17degC and 24degC. Whilst light clothing is recommended for summertime, it is better to dress for cooler and damper weather for Spring and Autumn. Winters are mild yet it often rains meaning waterproofs and warm jackets are essential if travelling between November to February.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of SATA (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting in Ponta Delgada and ending in Ponta Delgada

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Ponta Delgada in the eveningof Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

In the unlikely event of any of your luggage being misplaced or damaged, a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) must be filed with the appropriate airline if you subsequently wish to make a claim against the airline or on your travel insurance. This must be done at the airport where your baggage arrived, or should have arrived.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. 

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

In order to reach your first night accommodation from the airport in Ponta Delgada, the easiest option is to take a taxi on arrival. The hotel is about 5 kms away from the airport and the cost will be approximately €12. Alternatively you can take a shuttle bus from the airport to Ponta Delgada city centre. The hotel is just a few minutes walk from the bus stop. 

Upon arrival at the hotel, advise reception you are part of the Exodus group.

 

Location start:
Ponta Delgada
Location end:
Ponta Delgada

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Comfortable sturdy walking boots
Small daypack and water bottle
Hat, sunglasses, sun lotion
Binoculars
Swimming costume
Waterproof shell jacket and trousers
Warm clothes (or layers are best) for Spring and Autumn departures.

Optional Equipment

Walking poles

Practical Information

Passport

Portugal

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.

Visa

Portugal

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Portugal

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

If you are a UK citizen and travelling in Europe you should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your Post Office. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance.

Local Time

Portugal's Timezone:
Europe/Lisbon WET (GMT +00:00)

Electricity

Portugal's Electricity:

European 2-pin plug. 

Standard European 2-pin adapter required.

Money

Portugal's Currency

The national currency of Portugal is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

ATM Availability

There are cashpoints in both Ponta Helgada and Horta, whilst the hotels also accept major credit cards.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Evening meals vary between €15 for a simple dish (excluding seafood) to €30 per person for an upmarket restaurant. Prices also fluctuate a lot for a simple meal in a café: between €7 and €12.

Optional excursions:

Ferry from Horta to Pico Island: €3.40 per person one way

Whale and dolphin watching: approx. €60. 

Swimming with dolphins: €40 per person (minimum 2 persons). 

 

Tipping

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus. Most of our clients wish to give a tip to their guides in appreciation of their help and friendliness. As a guideline we recommend a contribution of approximately €15 per client per leader. This, of course, is in no way compulsory and depends on the service received.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.