Travel Matters Ltd

25th June 2021

Portugal – The Azores, São Miguel Island Experience from £940 per person

The Azores, or the Autonomous Region of the Azores, are a set of nine volcanic islands that rest in the mid-Atlantic. This Portuguese archipelago is the full package and has everything that a lover of nature, adventure and sustainability might want from an unforgettable holiday experience.

As the archipelago is situated at a junction of the Eurasian, North American and African tectonic plates, these islands have a bizarre micro climate. You won’t experience temperatures of more than 22 degrees celsius, even in the summer months between June and September/October, but do expect in an ordinary day to be soaked by passing rainclouds and then dried off by the warming glow of the sun (repeat 3 to 4 times!). This is a part of the world you should never set foot into without a pair of hiking boots, sunglasses, a rain jacket, a hardy camera and some of these suggested travel essentials!

The island of São Miguel is doused in rugged volcanic countryside, beaches, natural lava rock pools, blue lakes, green pastures and mysterious forests. More importantly, the Azores is home to a host of mesmerising mammals, including the Greater Mouse-eared Bat, Humpback Whale and Killer Whales. These islands are a sanctuary for billions of lives, so tread carefully and detox your soul amongst Mother Nature. Lastly, don’t worry about that mosquito repellent, because there aren’t any pesky midges in the Azores. Brilliant!

If you’re looking for a truly special experience, where accommodation, transfers and daily excursions are planned – please have a look at the 8 day itinerary below.

Itinerary (Departing June 2022)
Day 1:

Arrival to the Azores and Hotel Marina Atlantico –

Your flight will arrive at São Miguel, where you will be picked up by a transfer service and whisked off to Hotel Marina Atlantico. The Hotel has an impressive location, overlooking Ponta Delgada Marina, meaning you are close to many attractions and restaurants. Guests can expect a luxurious stay at Hotel Marina Atlantico and have the use of a health & wellness spa, swimming pool and gym. The hotel also offers Azorean gastronomic delights that can be sampled in the impressive oceanfront Escuna Restaurant. In order to conclude a perfect evening, you will be able to enjoy a few drinks at the Palhabote Bar.

This evening, like others during your stay, you will have free time to familiarise yourself with the immediate area and sample one of the fine restaurants local to the historic centre of Ponta Delgada.

Day 2:

‘Whale & Dolphin Watching’ (when the fun really stats!), 13:30 to 17:00 –

Enjoy a complementary breakfast at Hotel Marina Atlantico and again, have a stroll around Ponta Delgada in the daylight. At 13:30 strap on your life vest, as you will be picked up from the marina by your skipper and biologist who will endeavour to show off the 25 Cetacean species, turtles, seabirds and other marine life in their natural habitat. It is important to remember that nature offers no guarantees, but whales and dolphins are regularly spotted during these day tours. Whilst enjoying the tour, your on-board biologist will give detailed explanations about the marine life, as well as the rules of observation, historical facts of the region and safety principles about the environment.

‘Day 2’ is all about getting to know the sea and marine life conservancy.

(Please note – The weather or sea conditions may restrict the activities therefore the order of the itinerary may be switched so that guests can make the most of their trip.)

Day 3:

‘Whale & Dolphin Watching’, 08:30 to 17:00 or ‘Hiking Tour to Logao de Fogo’, 09:00 or14:00 –

As nature can be somewhat erratic, ‘Day 3’ assumes a similar theme to ‘Day 2’…just a little earlier in the morning. Again, your boat is due to leave the Ponta Delgada Marina at 08:30, with the intention of spotting marine life that is more accustomed to an early riser. This amazing full-day adventure is broken up by a visit to a local restaurant around midday, before you resume your scouting expedition. You will be provided with a raincoat & pants, a life jacket, insurance and most importantly, an unlimited supply of Portuguese tea. The day will be concluded at 17:00, so you will have your chance to return to the hotel and prepare yourself for a joyous evening in Ponta Delgada.

(Please note – The weather or sea conditions may restrict the activities therefore the order of the itinerary may be switched so that guests can make the most of their trip.)

If you feel like you’ve only just regained your sea legs and wish to stay on land, a vigorous hiking tour up to Logao de Fogo could be the perfect alternative. Guests will have the choice of being picked up at either 09:00 or 14:00 start, so please consider how to structure your day. Logao de Fogo, or Lake Fogo, is one of the most iconic parts of São Miguel – with its white sand of pumice stone, you won’t have seen many sights like it. During the hike, a local guide will enlighten you about this mysterious place and its vegetation & conservation projects.

Day 4:

‘Sete Cidades Active Jeep & Lakes Tour’, 09:00 – 17:00

‘Day 4’ is split into two parts – Jeep Tour and Bicycle & Kayak Tour. In the morning, whilst you’re still waking up, guests are taken on a Jeep trip through the wilderness of São Miguel and stopping off at Pico do Carvão, Pico da Cruz and Lomba do Vasco viewpoints. Along the way you will witness natural reserves, volcano typography, waterfall and tropical forests before visiting the village of Sete Cidades. The tour continues along the peninsula where the final checkpoint at Vista do Rei reveals astonishing views, as well as a lunchtime picnic.

After re-fuelling your body, the second part of your adrenaline-filled day will commence – Biking & Kayaking! A local guide will instruct participants on how to get the best out of their mode of transport, best routes to take and will shed some interesting details about Sete Cidades. You will be taken back to the hotel for 17:00, where you will no doubt collapse in a heap of jubilant exhaustion!

Day 5:

‘Furnas Thematic Tour’, 09:00 to 17:00

What’s on the menu today? Gastronomy, views and a thermal spring…so pack your swimsuit!

You will once again, start your day being picked up from the beautiful Ponta Delgada. The first visit of the day will be to the only remaining Tea Plantation in Europe. Gorreana Tea Factory’s produce is not only Europe’s oldest tea, but is regarded by many as ‘world class’. The Gorreana and Canto Teas’ are perhaps the finest you will ever taste! In order to cleanse your palate, guests are immediately transported through more prepossessing Azorean landscape, before arriving at the Caldeiras das Furnas. Your guide will explain the health benefits of the Fumaroles (openings in the earth’s surface that emit steam and volcanic gases) and how they produce ‘Gasocarbonic Mineral Waters’. You will of course be encouraged to sample what the locals consider to be their Elixir of life!

Finally, it’s lunchtime! At this point, the tour will stop off at Lagoa das Furnas, a local restaurant known for their Cozido. This local dish is unlike any that you would have sampled before, as regional vegetables and meats are gently heated by the geothermal volcanic energy…or the steam of the Earth. After you have allowed your food to settle, guests are set free to explore the Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens, where you will find indigenous flora such as the Azorean Holly, Hawkbit, Azorean Laurustinus, Azorean Dwarf Mistletoe and Picconia Azorica. The final part of the day is devoted to rejuvenation! The Thermal Water Pool of Terra Nostra Gardens is said to have special medicinal properties, so make sure you put time aside for a jolly-good soak.

Day 6:

‘Free Day’ or optional ‘Be a Marine Biologist’*, 08:00 to 17:00

Today you can either be your own tour guide and explore a part of São Miguel that you’ve been itching to see. Alternately, you can become a student for the day and learn about Azores Marine Wildlife. Whatever you decide to do, please put time aside for lunch at one of the local restaurants at 12:30.

If you choose to embark on a day of study, you won’t be disappointed! Guests are invited to the Harbour for 08:00, where they will receive a lecture-type experience about the 3,000 Sperm Whales and 500 Blue Whales that have been identified within the Azores. When class has concluded, you will return to the sea on a Zodiac where you will be able to use your newly founded expertise & photo-identification techniques to assess & collect microplastics within the plankton network. You will then be asked to record acoustic data by using a directional hydrophone, so as to detect frequencies emitted by Cetaceans that wouldn’t usually be heard by the human ear. All the data collected on this day out will be stored and used as valuable information in marine research and sustainability.

*(‘Be a Marine Biologist’ Experience, £90.00 pp)

(Please note – The weather or sea conditions may restrict the activities therefore the order of the itinerary may be switched so that guests can make the most of their trip.)

Day 7:

‘Free Day’ or optional ‘HD Experience Tour’*, 09:30 to 12:30

Again, your last full day can be an optional ‘Free Day’, meaning you make the calls.

If you’re enjoying the organised fun, then you’ll be pleased to know we have one more surprise lined up. Your day will start with a trip to Gruta do Carvão (The Coal Cave), where a lava tunnel stretches over 1,912 metres underground. Erie! Guests are invited to explore this peculiar chamber, which is the longest subterranean tunnel in São Miguel and home to over 250 Scoria Cones and lava flows of basaltic nature that cover the area between Capelas and Ribeira Grande.

You might be glad to know that the second half of the tour will resume above ground. Do you know how pineapples grow? Did you know it takes almost 2 years for a pineapple to fully grow? If not, you will certainly be amazed by the impressive pineapple plantations of Fajã de Baixo. Here you will bear whiteness to the awesome power of this micro-climate’s greenhouse nurturing capacities. And yes, pineapple is on the menu!

In the early afternoon you will return to the hotel and it is up to you how you bid the island of São Miguel farewell.

*(‘Optional ‘HD Experience Tour’, £35.00 pp)

Day 8:

Goodbye São Miguel and the Azores

Breakfast will be provided for the last time, at Hotel Marina Atlantico, before you are greeted by your transfer to the airport.

7 nights accommodation based on two sharing
Airport Transfers
Tour Guides
A tree will be planted by our charity partners Trees for Cities for every participant
Museum and other entrance tickets
Lunch on Days’ 3, 4, 5, 6

Not Included
International Airfares
Tips for Guides, Drivers, Porters and Waiting Staff
Travel Insurance

Places are limited, get in touch to book yours! Email: Tel: 0208 675 7878

By Karen Simmonds
25th June 2021