Azores

Walking in the Azores with Madalena Patacho

8 days
from
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Walking & Trekking
Activity level:
Moderate
Activity Rating - Moderate
Trip code: 
TSZZ
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium Adventures, Private Group Adventures
Activity:
Natural Wonders
Group size:
4–16
Ages:
16+

Trek on Europe's undiscovered volcanic archipelago 

Step into otherworldly landscapes, ecological wonders and geological diversity unlike anywhere else on earth with this gentle walking tour led by Naturalist and renowned guide Madalena Patacho through the treasures of Portugal’s remote Azores islands. While Madalena has led tours across the globe, it’s truly sharing her passion for the treasures of her homeland and people that she looks forward to the most. She will immerse you in the history, culture, cuisine and biodiversity of this emerald green archipelago and this particular region is a world leading example of sustainable tourism by both land and sea. Enjoy volcanoes, hot springs, vineyards, beaches, whale watching, historic botanical gardens, tea plantations and – even opt to spend a day and pilgrimage to climb Portugal’s Mt. Pico if you dare.

 With food so incredible it’s worth the trip; enjoy wines from vineyards just down the way, mouth-watering seafood, mind-blowing local cheeses, farm fresh produce and sustainable seafood fresh from the sea – Madalena cannot wait to share with you all the jewels of the Azores.  

Madalena Patacho

 Madalena Patacho

Madalena grew up surrounded by Portugal’s maritime history in Belém, where she dreamed about exploring the oceans. Her love for the sea led her to study marine biology and receive a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management, specializing in Ecotourism. After graduating, Madalena moved to Príncipe Island, off the west coast of Africa, and worked with local communities on the implementation of a responsible tourism project.

Madalena’s biggest passion is traveling the world and connecting with different cultures, exploring the wilderness, and embracing local experiences. Since graduating, she has traveled to Central & South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Arctic. When she is not on an expedition exploring the world, she is a naturalist at the aquarium, Oceanário de Lisboa, raising awareness on ocean conservation and biodiversity.

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

Key information

  • 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
  • Countries visited: Portugal

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 5 lunches
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport (incl. internal flights) and listed activities
  • Internal flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • International flights
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

5

Days of Walking & Trekking
Pace:

Moderate: 5-6km/3-4miles an hour

Terrain:

Low altitude; good paths with some uneven terrain and steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 211.0km/6.0miles
Day 37.0km/4.0miles
Day 49.0km/5.0miles
Day 510.0km/6.0miles
Day 712.0km/7.0miles

Itinerary

Ponta Delgada
to
Ponta Delgada
  • 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 admire exotic flowers and trees from all over the globe. Amongst the trees and bushes a series of aqueducts 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
  • Day 3

    Morning flight to Faial; visit to Scrimshaw Museum and trek from Trupes do Capelo to the Capelinhos volcano.

    After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a short flight to Faial Island, known as the 'blue island' because of the large quantity of hydrangeas that bloom during the summer months. After landing, we transfer to Peter's Café Sport, a traditional resting point for many sailors braving the Atlantic crossing. Here we will be guided round one of the largest Scrimshaw (carvings done on bone or ivory) collections in the world.  The variation in designs of this 19th century art form, so synonymous with the Azores due to their whaling heritage, provide a varied and interesting experience.

    After lunch, we take a short transfer to 'Trupes do Capelo', the start of today’s short hike. This trail is a wonderful example of the great ecological and geological diversity that characterizes this Natural Park. The trail finishes at the dramatic Capelinhos Volcano that rises steeply from the sea and features a number of unique formations. It was these that resulted in the construction of the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre. This is essentially a museum and study centre set up to show visitors how the volcano, and indeed the whole archipelago, was formed. In the late afternoon we transfer to our comfortable hotel, our base for the next three nights.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Day trip to Pico; walk through UNESCO heritage site of the Santa Luzia Vineyards or take an optional climb to the summit.

    Taking the ferry to Pico offers us a chance to take in the size and scale of Mount Pico. At 2,351m it is Portugal’s highest peak and dominates the horizon on our approach. Pico is also known as the ‘black island’ thanks to the black volcanic earth used in the construction of the walls of many of the UNESCO-listed vineyards for which it is known.

    Once on the island, we head out on our first walking tour of the Santa Luzia Vineyards. Azorean vineyards are a sight to behold. Built to protect the vines from the harsh sea winds, they amount to 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 through soil.

    Alternatively, if you prefer to use your time in Pico to join an optional challenging summit trek to the top of Portugal's largest mountain, then today is the perfect opportunity to attempt this! This is a very strenuous 6-7 hour climb which will be led by a local mountain guide and is always subject to availability and weather conditions (for further information please check the Extra Expenses & Spending Money section in the Trip Notes).

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

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

    From the harbour on Horta we take a ferry to Sao Jorge Island or the 'brown island'. Crossing times can vary between 1.5hrs and 2hrs 20 minutes depending on the time of year, and last minute schedule changes are not uncommon. 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 fascinating visually. Its steep sided cliffs seem to slice through the ocean, 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 delicious cheese, 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
  • Day 6

    Free time for optional whale watching excursion; evening flight to Sao Miguel.

    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 whale and dolphin and 25 of them have been sighted off the coast of the Azores, with the most common being the Sperm Whale. There is also the chance to spot Bottlenose dolphins, Short-finned pilot whales, Sei whales, Atlantic spotted dolphins and the holy grail - the Blue Whale. 

    If you choose to go on an excursion, you will have the chance to observe the behaviour of these wonderful creatures and learn more about their habitat with the help of the knowledgeable local experts on board. We observe strict protocols regarding interaction, maintaining the appropriate distance at all times. Moreover during feeding and resting times we avoid any interference with the whales’ natural habitat. This afternoon or evening we will take a flight back to Ponta Delgada.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • 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
  • Day 8

    End Ponta Delgada.

    End Ponta Delgada

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

Portugal

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and 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.

Weather

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 but shorter walks. Walking hours stated are given as guidance 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 however some of the routes cross rougher terrain with longer ascents and descents. Some of the paths are quite narrow and stony underfoot and require walking in single file. On some occasions you will be walking on more coarse volcanic rock, so it is advisable to be comfortable walking in more durable walking boots, which are recommended for this trip.
The area is also subject to rain and high winds at any time. On departures in May and September, it is best to bring warm clothes in case of colder weather.

If you decide to attempt the optional summit trek to Pico, please note this is challenging and involves 1,120m of elevation gain. The terrain is uneven and rocky so good walking boots are essential and walking poles are recommended. 

Please note that the internal flights are included in the trip and booked by Exodus. As inter-island flights 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, you will be notified of these 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

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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 Horta. Affording spectacular views towards the neighbouring island of Pico, this hotel with garden and pool is within walking distance to the harbour and is the perfect place to relax after a day's walking in and around the surrounding islands.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

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Please call one of our experts to discuss your private group requirements on 0203 993 4668, or fill out the form below and we will give you a call back.

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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