Day 1: Saturday 06 October. Depart from UK.
20.30 Depart Gatwick on Azores Airlines (SATA) to Ponta Delgada.
23.30 Arrive and transfer to Hotel do Colégio in the historic centre of the capital.
Day 2. San Miguel Island: Whale & dolphin watching then mountain bike and hike in Sete Cidades
After breakfast you’ll be met by your local guide in the lobby of the hotel and transfer to the nearby marina.
On-board briefing by marine biologist guides who will take you through the resident species of the area including blue whales, fin whales and orcas. They will also explain how Futurismo operates responsibly (following World Cetacean Alliance guidelines), outlining the rules of observation at sea, marine life conservation and give a safety briefing. During each excursion your biologist guides will be collecting scientific data and are happy to interact with guests answering questions.
Although nature offers no guarantees, the Azores are a permanent home or point of passage for a third of all whale and dolphin species so it is unlikely that you will return to dry land without having an incredible wildlife experience.
Return to the marina and transfer to Sete Cidades. These two picturesque volcanic lakes are rated as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. On arrival you’ll enjoy an easy-going bike ride around the lake to a peaceful spot on the lake shore where a typical Azorean picnic lunch will be served. After lunch you’ll kayak back across the lake to the Futurismo activity centre, taking in the verdant beauty of the crater from the water.
If there is time on the return transfer to the hotel you will stop on the coast at Ferraria - an incredible lava landscape with an ocean pool heated by volcanic vents. Alternatively we can return to Ponta Delgada to visit alternative accommodation options.
Information session in the hotel lobby covering guide introductions, itineraries, scheduling, transfers, meals, equipment, flight schedules, hotels, weather etc followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 3. Faial Island: Capelinhos volcano, Horta marina & whaling museum
Early pick up at the hotel and transfer to the airport.
Flight to Faial island (plus a quick transit via the island of Terceria).
Transfer from the airport to the fascinating Capelinhos volcano, famed for the most recent volcanic eruption in the Azores (in 1956). You’ll enjoy a gentle hike to the crater edge and walk around this unique moonscape to an historic lighthouse and whaler cottages that are still partly buried in volcanic ash. A fascinating underground museum with audio visual displays brings to life the sheer power of the volcano and the impact that it had on the local people.
Lunch in the delightful mariners port of Horta in a characterful restaurant where you cook your own food at the table on hot volcanic tablets (seafood, meat or vegetarian).
After lunch you’ll enjoy a fascinating walk around Horta’s harbour, famous as a stopping-off point for round-the-world yacht journeys. The harbour is decorated with art and murals celebrating the stories and achievements of each vessel. We will then visit the unique Scrimshaw Museum on the top of Peter’s cafe (world famous in yachting circles) for some story-telling about the whalers and sailors that have passed through over the years.
Check in at the delightful Hotel Faial Azoris Garden in Horta. You can either relax here or review other accommodation options in the town.
Dinner at Genuino restaurant celebrating the owner’s double circumnavigation of the globe. Enjoy stories about his sailing expeditions over a glass of wine or two.
Day 4. Pico Island: UNESCO vineyards, wine tasting and lava tunnels. Optional ascent of Pico Mountain
An early start for breakfast at the hotel and then transfer to the Horta’s ferry port.
Ferry to Pico island.
Arrival in Pico which is dominated by Portugal’s highest point; the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Pico at 2,351m. We start by wandering through the incredible landscape of hand-made lava vineyards, started in the 15th century and now deservedly holding UNESCO World Heritage site status.
We then drive to Sao Roque where we will have the chance to visit a typical local winery and have a traditional lunch with delicious wine and local spirit tasting.
OPTIONAL CLIMB TO PICO MOUNTAIN
For those interested in walking, there is also an option to climb Pico Mountain itself. The walk starts at Casa da Montanha (Mountain House), at 1200m (3937’) and climbs until reaching the very top of the mountain (2351m / 7713’). You can relax at the summit to enjoy lunch and the views. From here, as long as it’s not too cloudy, you can see four of the other Azorean islands.
Please note that this trail is quite challenging and occasionally technical because it is steep and rocky. Not recommended for people with knee or ankle problems. Picnic lunch included.
After lunch, you will don a hard hat and be guided underground through the spectacular lava tube of Guta Das Torres, a fascinating subterranean cave system over five kilometres long and formed by the flow of lava rivers.
Following your underground experience you can enjoy views towards Pico and the other islands whilst having a drink at the very cool Cella Bar. Or you can choose to view other accommodation options on the island.
Check in at Aldeia da Fonte hotel. If there is time you can take a swim in the amazing natural swimming pool off the rocks or in the more conventional pool overlooking a dramatic rocky coastline.
You’ll enjoy dinner tonight in a beautiful local restaurant sampling the finest Azorean dishes and seafood.
Day 5. Sao Jorge Island: Coffee plantation visit, sea swimming and coastal hike
After an early breakfast transfer to the port.
Departure by ferry to Sao Jorge island.
Arrival at Sao Jorge island. First you’ll head to a locally run coffee plantation to see and taste how coffee is grown on a small farm in this tropical microclimate. Then head to Piscina Simao Dias, a picturesque natural swimming pool formed between spectacular volcanic rocks and the ocean. After a swim we’ll have a picnic lunch on the rocks. Sao Jorge’s landscape is defined by steep cliffs with puddles of volcanic or landslide matter at the bottom.
After lunch we will hike down along the coast, through spectacular scenery of the famous fajas of the Azores to a magical remote village famous for its locally harvested clams and excellent surfing.
Check in at Cantinho das Buganvilias and watch sunset over dinner at the beautiful restaurant there.
Day 6. Return to San Miguel Island: Furnas geothermal area
Pick up at the hotel. Transfer to the airport.
Flight to Terceira island. Stopover here for 2 hours.
Flight to Ponta Delgada on San Miguel island. Arrive at Ponta Delgada airport and transfer to spa town of Furnas and check in at Terra Nostra Garden Hotel. Furnas lies at the bottom of an active volcano and in the town centre there are spectacular bubbling hot pools, steaming manhole covers and the distinctive smell of sulphur in the air. We will have time to enjoy the hot natural pools and the botanical gardens in the grounds of the hotel.
Dinner at A Terra Restaurant at Furnas Boutique Hotel. After dinner there may be more time to relax under the stars in the ornate, naturally heated hot pools and jacuzzis in the hotel grounds.
Day 7. Market visit and cookery lesson, bike ride around lake, hike to waterfall
After breakfast you’ll meet the hotel chef and go shopping around the small local stores for tonight’s dinner ingredients. Then return to the hotel kitchen to learn how to prepare a traditional Cozido. Once the pot is ready you will transfer to Furnas lake to bury it in the hot volcanic soil!
Whilst the pot is left underground slow cooking your supper, you’ll enjoy a gentle cycle ride around the lake taking in the views and seeing many species of endemic plants and wildlife. At the end of your ride, having worked off a few calories, you’ll be ready for your picnic lunch on the lakeshore.
After lunch you’ll head to the start of a 2.5 hour walk to experience the lush green interior of the island. On the walk you’ll pass through an abandoned village, beautiful woodlands and eventually reach the stunning Salto do Prego waterfall.
After your return to the hotel, you’ll dig up your dinner! And then have it served to you in the beautiful art deco restaurant.
Day 8. Sat 13 October. Jeep safari to Calderia Velha, visit to Tea plantation
After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll drive to the only tea plantation in Europe. It’s an interesting wander through this working factory to understand how tea is grown and produced - and then have a nice cup of Azorean tea to round it off. Then continue to the stunning views of Fogo Lake - an icon of the Azores with brilliant blue water filling a perfect volcanic crater. We will then have a light lunch back in Ponta Delgada before your flight.
Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK.
14.55 Azores Airlines flight S4 540.
19.40 Arrive back in at London Gatwick.