Explore two of the Azores' most picturesque islands on this 8-day holiday to Sao Miguel and Santa Maria. Follow the trails that reach the highest points of the islands and marvel at magnificent views of lush green landscapes, mountains, waterfalls and traditional white washed houses during this walking tour. Both islands are uniquely spectacular. Sao Miguel is home to some of the archipelago’s most iconic natural scenery and is the most popular of all nine islands. Lesser-know Santa Maria, in stark contract, is where visitors will find rural communities which remain virtually undisturbed by tourism.
Designed to introduce travellers to the natural surroundings, walking tours get you under the skin of both the landscapes and communities that call these two islands home, but are not too long or strenuous to require a very high level of fitness. In Sao Miguel, discover the bright blue crater lake of Lagoa do Fogo at the heart of the Agya de Pau Massif stratovolcano, and walk down to the coast to take a swim on the beach. In Santa Maria, discover hidden waterfalls, vineyards and the traditional, laid-back Azorean way of life.
Arrive Sao Miguel and transfer from the airport to Hotel Vila Nova for your 2 night stay. Check in and the remainder of your day is at leisure. (B)
After breakfast enjoy a walk to Sete Cidades, one of Sao Miguel’s most famous natural wonders, to visit the large crater with its emerald lake. The crater itself stretches over three miles, so the views around the region are immense. Today’s walking route takes in the beautiful views of the island, spanning the crater lakes and the coast, before walking down to the village of Sete Cidades. Afterwards, transfer back to the hotel. (7.5 km or 11km walking) (B)
This morning head to Furnas. Here the landscape is dominated by two volcanic calderas, one of which is home to an emerald lake in its crater. Wherever you turn in this region, the surrounding environment serves as reminders of the Azores’ volcanic geology, with volcanic peaks and fertile soils resulting in lush green valleys and hot springs bubbling alongside steaming geyser fields. The walk today takes you around the lakeside, passing by the holes where the traditional meal ’cozido’ is cooked by the underground vapors released by the volcano. Stop to visit the Furnas Monitoring & Research Centre before a transfer back to the hotel and then onward to the airport to board the short flight to Santa Maria. On arrival transfer to Hotel Colombo for your two night stay. (B)
Today, take a walk from Pico Alto forest to the highest peak of Santa Maria island, reaching just 587m but offering astounding views of neighbouring Sao Miguel on a clear day. This route winds through the ‘red desert of the Azores’, a unique reddish clay ecosystem, and stops at an old whale observatory point to enjoy the view. Continue walking to Anjos and enjoy a visit to the caves at Furna de Santana before transferring back to the hotel. (B)
Transfer from the hotel to Santa Barbara, where today’s walking route begins at the parish church. Walk past the ruins of two windmills and a stone quarry from which the housing materials for many of the local buildings were sourced, and wander through local villages home to characteristic rural houses topped with tall chimneys. Enjoy a spectacular view over the Bay of Sao Lourenco and a waterfall that reaches 50m in height before transferring back to the hotel. (B)
Begin today’s walk at the Santo Espirito Church and head down through Maia village to reach the old Whaling Factory in Ponta do Castelo. This route passes a traditional windmill, the Ribera do Aveiro waterfall and the Goncalo Velho lighthouse, as well as skirting through some traditional vineyards and a nature reserve. After the walk, transfer to the airport and take a short flight back to Sao Miguel island. Check in to the Hotel Vila Nova for two nights. (6.8 km walking) (B)
After breakfast walk to Lagoa do Fogo- the Lake of Fire. This stunning, deep blue lake is one of the most famous and iconic sights of Sao Miguel, and arguably all of the Azores. The crater lake is situated within the Água de Pau Massif stratovolcano in the centre of the island, and is surrounded by hydrangea bushes which bloom in bold blues and pinks in the spring season (March-June). It’s a long hiking route today but it’s worth it as the day takes in the best of the local scenery, ranging from mountains and hilltop viewpoints to meandering valleys. The walk concludes at the shore of the lake where you’ll have time to relax on the beach or take a swim. (15 km walking) (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK. (B)