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Day 1: Arrive Ponta Delgada
Upon arrival you are transferred to your hotel where you will have time to relax before lunch and our welcome briefing. Your rooms will be ready for you upon arrival. This afternoon we will enjoy a walking tour of Ponta Delgada followed by our welcome dinner.
Day 2: Sete Cidades Volcanic Complex and Ferraria Spa
Sete Cidades lake is one of the most famous and legendary lakes of the islands. Enjoy your adventure by visiting some of the lakes enclosed in the volcanic complex. Once at the bottom of the crater, we will take a relaxing walk around the shoreline. (1.5 hr, mostly flat terrain.) This is definitely the best way to experience Sete Cidades, feeling the amazing energy and beauty of the place. A typical Azorean picnic lunch will be served on the lake shore.
Day 3: Whale and Dolphin Watching, Visit to Villa Franca Islet
This morning we will have the opportunity to watch some of more than 25 cetacean species (whales, dolphins and porpoises) that can be found in the Azores. Although nature offers no guarantees, whales and dolphins are regularly seen, along with turtles, seabirds and other marine life. This is a nice opportunity to learn about the sea and marine life conservancy. After the 3 hour tour, we stop in Vila Franca do Campo to have lunch in a local restaurant. Then we board a small boat and head to Vila Franca do Campo islet, a volcanic crater off the coast that encloses a natural lagoon. The islet is a natural reserve, so here you will be able to snorkel and watch the diversity of fish species that have been preserved (masks and snorkels are provided).
Day 4: Flight to Faial Island, Walking Tour of Horta
This morning we are picked up and transferred to the airport for our flight to Faial Island. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel and walk to the city center for lunch at the emblematic and well known Peter's Café.
Day 5: Full Day on Faial Island - Visiting Caldeira and Capelinhos
We start with a visit to Caldeira, a massive volcanic crater with beautiful views over the sea and Pico Island. We will go on a short “walk on the moon” hike (1.5 hrs with slight inclines/declines) along the Capelinhos Volcano examining the uniquely preserved vegetation until we reach the area affected by the most recent eruption. We will gain insight on the impact that the volcano has had on the island during our brief stop at the interpretation center. Onwards from the center we will reach the historic lighthouse, from where we will have an amazing view over all the island that has been rebuilt since the last eruption of 1957. Witness the contrasting landscapes of black volcanic rocks, sand and the blue ocean. After lunch at a local restaurant we will visit the coastline where we will learn about the curiosities of the “Flanders Mills” and visit an outstanding botanical garden.
Day 6: Ferry to Pico Island
This morning, we transfer to the dock for our ferry to Pico Island, which is home to the highest mountain of Portugal, Mount Pico, at 2,351m / 7713ft. We start the tour walking through the vineyards (Vinhas da Criação Velha - UNESCO World Heritage Site) where you will learn about this unique style of vineyard and the interesting varieties found on the island. We then drive to São Roque where we will have the chance to visit a typical winery and here we will enjoy a traditional meal and sample the local wine. After lunch we visit the Wine Museum with its beautiful architecture and outdoor garden with giant Dracaena draco. There will be time to relax in a natural swimming pool or just enjoy the views over the mountain with Faial and São Jorge Islands within sight.
Day 7: The Mountains and Whalers of Pico Island
We start our day visiting “Gruta das Torres”, a geological formation with volcanic origin formed from the flow and cooling of subterranean magma rivers which is the longest lava cave in the Azores. We will continue to “Casa da Montanha” where the peaks begin to climb and where the views are spectacular. We will then visit the lakes and some rural areas until we reach Lajes do Pico, known as the Whalers Village of the Azores. Here a special meal will be served. Afterwards, we will visit the Whalers’ Museum that tells the story of whaling activity in the Azores. We visit an old whaling station converted into a museum. Enroute to our hotel, we visit a local community where a group of artisans gather and welcome visitors eager to hear about their lives in 'olden times' and about their passion for the island.
Day 8: Day Trip to São Jorge
This morning we take a ferry to São Jorge Island for the day. Separated from its nearest neighbors (Pico and Faial islands) by a 15 km strait, the three islands are sometimes referred to colloquially as the "Triangulo" (Triangle) group. The island is long and thin, with tall cliffs resulting in the seashore forming volcanic or erosion formations called “Fajãs”. We visit some of the “fajãs” where very good quality coffee grows. We visit the cheese factory and learn about the” king” of cheeses in all of Portugal – São Jorge Cheese.
Day 9: To Terceira Island, Walking Tour of Angra do Heroísmo
We will have a morning flight to Terceira Island. Upon arrival we check into our hotel and meet up for lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we discover the peculiar traditions of Terceira Island and the UNESCO patrimony city of Angra do Heroísmo. At Monte Brasil we will enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the city that was once the most important trading port of the Atlantic. As we walk through the beautiful streets with traditional Portuguese sidewalks, we see many of the noble manor houses, and recount the glorious times of the past. Once in the city center, it’s time for a sweet! We will taste the traditional and delicious sweets of Terceira with recipes that date back for over 100 years.
Day 10: Explore Terceira Island
It’s time to discover the Island of Terceira, the second most important in the Azores. You will explore the coast, with its colonial churches and traditional "impérios", colorful small chapels dedicated to the worship of the Holy Spirit. Along the way you will pass an immense extension of small breeding green fields separated by the traditional lava rock walls, known as fields’ patchwork. The experience that follows is a unique walk inside an extinct volcano whose chimney remains intact. Known as Algar do Carvão ("coal cave"), the black colors of the interior give visitors a unique opportunity to see the interworkings of a volcano. Lunch will be served in a traditional restaurant.
Day 11: Jeep Safari on São Miguel Island
This morning we fly to São Miguel Island where we will board our jeeps and begin our jeep safari up the north coast. Our first stop is the natural reserve of Fire Lake, an amazing pristine blue lake in a volcanic crater. The lake is one of the most beautiful in the Azores and one of the best naturally preserved throughout the years. We will pass through streams and an amazing waterfall called “Salto do Cabrito”. We make a stop at the only tea plantation in Europe where we will be able to visit the working tea factory and have a lovely break to taste the tea. Returning to our hotel, we will have time to enjoy the botanical garden and it outdoor thermal tank.
Day 12: Cooking in Volcanic Ovens and Discovering Furnas
Today we will feel and experience the volcanic origins of the Island in Furnas, a magical place. In the morning we will have a special leader joining us – the “Cozido” Chef. He will walk us through the village where we will buy all the items we need to cook dinner in the local providers. Afterwards we will head to the lake where we will discover many endemic plants before stopping at Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas (Furnas Lake Calderas), the place where we cook the famous “cozido das Furnas”. Here we have a cooking class with all the ingredients purchased and where we will prepare our dinner. We will prepare the special “cozido meal” which will cook underground for 6 hours using only the steam of the earth. While dinner is in the oven we will enjoy a picnic lunch in Terra Nostra Botanical Garden. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a visit to the most impressive botanical garden of the Azores where there will be an opportunity to participate in some gardening activities. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the garden of the hotel or take a swim in the hot thermal tanks.
Day 13: Full Day Visit to Povoação and Nordeste.
We continue our trip to the Priolo Environmental Center to visit the interactive exposition where we can learn about Serra da Tronqueira, its fauna and flora, and more specifically about the Priolo bird - Scientific name: Pyrrhula Murina, which is endemic to São Miguel Island. Interesting tip: Nordeste is the home of an endangered endemic bird called Priolo – Azores Bullfinch. Since 2003 the project Life Priolo has managed to increase the Priolo population to 1200 individuals!
Day 14: Santa Bárbara Beach
You will also get the opportunity to experience Praia de Santa Bárbara (Santa Bárbara Beach), an amazing black sand beach where the group will have a light lunch with beautiful views over the beach and coast.
Day 15: Depart
It’s time to say goodbye…Até à vista! Transfer to the airport and international flights homeward.
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