Walking in the Azores

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Trip code: 
TSZ
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium Adventure
Activity:
Natural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Trek on Europe's undiscovered volcanic archipelago 

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.

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

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 5 lunches
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport (incl. internal flights) and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
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 39.0km/5.0miles
Day 410.0km/6.0miles
Day 67.0km/4.0miles
Day 712.0km/7.0miles

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… 

Itinerary

Ponta Delgada
to
Ponta Delgada
  • Day 1

    Fly to Sao Miguel island; transfer to hotel in 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

    Transfer to the airport; fly to London.

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

Portugal

No visa required for British passport holders.

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, 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

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
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 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.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
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

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  • Reviewed June 2018
    Carolyn Greenberg

    Wonderful week in the Azores

    I've been to Portugal before, and was looking forward to experiencing another aspect of this country. This was my first trip with Exodus, and it was very impressive, start to finish. The daily outings, meals together, hotel choices, etc. were A+. Each island was unique and physically beautiful. The walks took us to places off the beaten path, which was exactly why I selected this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is hard to pick one moment - overall seeing how people have made these volcanic islands into beautiful locations is what impressed me.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bruno was amazing! His knowledge and enthusiasm were infectious, and definitely made the trip above average.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The level of this trip was more difficult than I expected - it was trekking than walking. I'm a good walker, so distance wasn't an issue, but the terrain was often steep . One suggestion for the packing list: a towel is needed for the swimming opportunities.

Dates & Prices

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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Call us on 020 8772 3936