14th September: Depart Malta to Azores via Porto
Meet at Malta International Airport for our flight to Porto and then to Azores Islands. (Flights will be purchased separately). During our adventure we will be staying on São Miguel island, the largest island of the Azores archipelago. Also known as ‘Ilha Verde,’ the Green Island, São Miguel encompasses Jurassic-like forests, volcanic peaks, azure lakes, large calderas and a dramatic coastline by the wild Atlantic Ocean. During our time here we will explore natural parks and spend time out in nature. So get ready for an active but pleasant adventure!!!
Our boutique hotel is located in the southern capital Ponta Delgada… a graceful black and white affair, with mosaic cobbled streets and intricate balconies meandering down to a marina lined with restaurants for the perfect dinner, and several bars for a relaxing drink in the evening.
15th September: Hike Moinhos do Félix and Visit Tea Factory and Plantation (B, L)
Discover the hidden gems of the north side of the island of Sao Miguel with us on this diverse tour. Walk along a whimsical trail through the woods and follow streams and rivers dotted with beautiful waterfalls along the way. Take a break with a cup of tea or homemade green tea ice-cream when we a pay a visit to the only tea plantation and factory in Europe. Moinhos do Félix Waterfalls Trail Located in Lomba de São Pedro, the easternmost of the 14 parishes that make up the municipality of Ribeira Grande, we can find the Moinho do Félix Waterfalls Trail. Setting off on our trail we will be welcomed with wonderful coastal views leading us down to the first waterfall on this route Cascata do Homem. We will continue our hike following in the footsteps of the Azorean forefathers; going uphill through the woods and weaving in and out through the trees until reaching the old watermill Moinho do Félix sitting next to the waterfall Cascata do Teófilo.
Moving on along this ancient trail you will feel the peace and tranquility here, with the sound of the stream to guide us to the last waterfall Cascata da Gruta and its natural pool Poço da Truta. Following the trail back up to the village we will pass by several fountains which in former times served to supply water to the local population.
Visit Tea Plantation
When we pay a visit to the Cha Gorreana Tea Factory and Plantation, which is the oldest and currently only tea plantation in Europe. Take a tour through this family run estate and take a closer look at the whole tea manufacturing process; from cultivating to the final product, which you will have the opportunity to taste for yourself.
NOTE: We are flexible with the itinerary of the day depending on local conditions and group abilities. It is recommended that you are in good physical shape as this tour includes, at times; walking on
16th September: Swimming with Dolphins & Hike Janela Inferno & Caldeira Velha Hot Springs (B)
Swimming with Dolphins
Take a boat trip out on the Atlantic Ocean with a marine biologist who will point out the different species of dolphins and teach you how to enter the water safely and how to behave in the ocean with these wild mammals. You will have the opportunity to swim with a mask and snorkel to witness friendly dolphins at play while keeping a respectful distance, or watch them jump and splash from the boat. This will definitely be one of your most memorable experiences in the Azores.
Hike Janela D’Inferno
Your afternoon hike is considered to be one of the local favourites, and with good reason! Today you will be hiking an easy circular trail that will take you through a variety of different sceneries as you will be hiking through pastures, over precarious bridges and in jungle like surroundings. It will be an easy yet adventurous afternoon, stopping halfway at the main highlight of this trail; Janela do Inferno, literally meaning Hells Window. Here we will stop to admire this natural wonder, before continuing our hike along the creek and back to our starting point with views over the south coast.
Found on the North Slope of the youngest volcano on the island, Fogo Volcano, is an amazing hot spring in lush surroundings. You will end your day with a dip in these thermal baths where you can relax and unwind in beautiful surroundings.
17th September: Coasteering (or hike to Congro Lake) & Kayaking (or boat ride) to Vila Franca do Campo Islet (B, L)
On the Coasteering tour, you will explore the beautiful volcanic coastline of the island of São Miguel and some of its various bays and caves, using various methods, among which are exciting jumps from remarkable cliffs, some moments of controlled climbing, dives, and a refreshing swim directly in the ocean.
NOTE: If you are uncomfortable about jumping from a height, know that there are alternatives.
Congro Lake Hike
For those who do not wish to do Coasteering, you have the opportunity to go on a hike to Lagoa do Congro. This lagoon occupies an explosion crater, the result of a phreatic eruption, located in one of the most active geological faults on the island of São Miguel. The particularity of this explosion crater formed around 3,900 years ago lies in the fact that it originated in phreatomagmatic explosions in which there was contact between rising magma and water table levels existing in the underlying formations.
Due to its origins, Lagoa do Congro has characteristics that distinguish it from most lagoons on the island. Its main characteristic is that it is embedded in the surrounding region, relatively flat, in the form of a large open hole in the surrounding area, as opposed to occupying the top of a well-defined volcanic cone. This is an easy circular route of less than 3km, following a path through a densely green area, taking you down to the Congro Lake where we will take a moment to enjoy this tranquil spot. We will continue along a winding trail through the woods back to our starting point.
Kayaking (or boat ride) to the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo
You will kayak to, and explore, the emblematic Vila Franca do Campo Islet; In total, we will cover approximately 5 km, which normally lasts about 3 hours (depending on weather conditions and group skills). Upon arrival at the local marina, we will proceed with the material distribution and a quick safety briefing. Leaving the harbour, we will head to this epic islet where we will circumnavigate it; exploring its hidden caves, swim in the Atlantic Ocean and snorkel in crystal clear waters. With our local nature guide, we will kayak into the islet bay, and venture on the islet for a better look of this Protected Landscape. Please note that for those who prefer to catch a boat instead, this option is also available. The boat leaves from the same marina as the kayaks and so participants can meet the rest of the group at the islet.
18th September: Canyoning Experience (or Furnas Lake Hike) & Visit Furnas (B, L)
The perfect way to spend the day, with an adventurous morning and a relaxing afternoon to explore some of the best the island has to offer: beautiful nature, great food, thermal hot-springs, good company and of course a lot of Fun!
Canyoning for beginners
Start the day with your adrenaline pumping on a Canyoning Experience tour, where we will immerse ourselves in nature by taking you to explore magnificent rivers and waterfalls using different canyoning techniques such as jumps, rappels, and water slides. Undoubtedly, the most thrilling and adventurous way to experience Azorean nature up close in one of the most beautiful locations on the island.
Hike Furnas Lake
If you do not want to go Canyoning, then you will have the perfect opportunity to Hike in unique surroundings, alongside bubbling cauldrons and fumaroles. You have to see it to believe it! Your hike will be circular, covering a distance of around 7.5 km. This is considered to be an easy hike taking around 3 hours to complete. We will start the day taking in the spectacular views of the Lake of Furnas from the viewpoint of Pico do Ferro. From here we will start our descent through a hidden trail, passing through a wooded area until we reach the Caldeiras da Lagoa, where you will be able to see where your lunch today is slowly cooking away in these geysers. The rest of the hike is fairly easy, taking a peaceful stroll along the banks of the lake, where there are some interesting surprises along the way and ending at the quaint chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias.
Today you will have a gastronomical experience, as we will have a traditional lunch of Cozido in one of the local restaurants. This dish is made up of a pot with a mixture of different meats and vegetables that is buried under volcanic soil and slow cooked by the steam coming from the fumaroles at the lake of Furnas. Later we will take a short stroll to the nearby fumaroles and taste the different waters coming from the local fountains. We will top the day off with a relaxing dip in the thermal baths found here.
19th September: Free morning & Hike Sete Cidades & swim in Ferraria & Farewell Dinner (B, D)
Today you can wake up with ease and enjoy a free morning. You can take this time to wander around the city of Ponta Delgada and buy any local souvenirs to take back home with you. If you would like a more active morning then we recommend paying a visit to the whimsical botanical gardens that are within walking distance from your hotel.
Hike in Sete Cidades
Situated in the Western side of Sao Miguel is one of the most beautiful areas on the island, attracting visitors from all over the world. You will be surrounded by volcanic mountains, forests, lakes and
breath-taking views around every corner. We will be hiking the trail of Serra Devassa where we will be doing a circular route through a Protected Area. From the start, the trail will take us up through the hills, where we will be able to see as far as the Pau Pique lake and the ruins of the old aqueduct system of Muro das Nove Janelas that used to supply Ponta Delgada. We will continue uphill reaching 873m at the point Pico das Éguas where we will be rewarded with panoramic views towards the Éguas lake on one side and the Rasa Lake ahead. From here we will go down to Lagoa Rasa which is surrounded by several volcanic cones.
We will pass by a small cave and the water house for a closer look and continue on our way round the lake. We will take a short detour through a wooded area of Japanese Cedar, until reaching the Empadadas lagoons. From here we will go back, around Pico das Éguas to our initial starting point, where we will enter the Forest Park of Mata do Canário. Here we will pay a visit to Lagoa do Canário and stroll through the park to the famous viewpoint of Boca do Inferno to take a look. Back at the car we will drive to the next highlight; the viewpoint of Vista do Rei, where there is a beautiful panoramic view of the village of Sete Cidades and the Green and Blue Lakes below you. Please note that we are flexible with this hiking route as it is dependent on weather conditions and group abilities and have other equally beautiful alternatives if need be. Afterwards we will go to Ferraria to enjoy a relaxing swim in the hot spring found directly in the Atlantic Ocean, which is quite a mind blowing experience in itself! And then, our time on this Green Island has come to an end, and we will celebrate together a week of life long memories with a farewell dinner.
20th September: Fly to Porto (B)
This morning we will take a flight* to the charming city of Porto. Porto is a tawny port with an alleywoven historic heart, colourful tumbledown bell towers, charismatic locals and sumptuous food and wine. Upon arrival we will check in our hotel at the centre of town and then go on to explore this enchanting place. Porto will hold us captive with its laid-back vibe, narrow backstreets, sky high lookouts, and roof terrace bars, but it is its soulfulness which makes it even more special. *Please note that flights will be purchased separately and individually.
21st September: Back home
Our adventure has come to an end! We ultimately hope to Experience all of this with you.