This trip is filled with stunning beauty and a bit of adventure! Due to the mountainous terrain, participants must have the physical ability to hike more strenuous trails and deal with constantly curving mountain driving. This is a level 4 trip. All participants must be in shape and have no physically limiting issues such as joints, cardio, and asthma. Those with motion sickness need to carefully consider and be prepared for the twisting mountain roads.
Day One, Sunday, June 21st:
We'll be taking the red eye out the day before and having an early morning arrival into the capital of Ponta Delgada today. Our flights will hopefully have included some shuteye so we can wake up with the enjoyment of a local Portuguese breakfast and a hot cup o'joe. After filling our tummies we'll head off to tour a local pineapple plantation (They grow 'em in greenhouses here) and hear the scoop of what makes their growing technique unique in this subtropical environment. If it's a sunny day we will drive to some of the highlight viewpoints for an island "taster" to wet our whistle with excitement. The rest of the day is yours to fill in Ponta Delgada with sightseeing, shopping, nibbling, and maybe napping.
Day Two, Monday, June 22nd:
The first of our three hikes will be taken this morning! Lagoa Do Fogo viewpoint is breathtaking and the hike down to the lake adds even more beauty to the experience. If the weather holds out for us we will carry our picnic lunches and take the rather steep descent down to the sands of the lakeshore. Once at the bottom, it's time to relax, wipe the sweat off our brows, find a secluded spot to meditate and soak in the majestic views, and munch on the yummy treasures we've carried along with us. There will be no rush to make the return trip up. Peace. Quiet. (No swimming...it's protected waters!) Once we've had our fill of nature, we're off to taste the beverages of the island...the rum plantation and the tea plantation offer free samples. Sip away! Meals: B,L
Day Three, Tuesday, June 23rd:
One of the most iconic pictures of the Azores will be taken with your own cameras today. Sete Cidades is both a town and twin lakes poised in the crater of a dormant volcano. The emerald green and turquoise blue of the twin lakes are quite the spectacle. This tiny town of less than 1,000 people holds quite the charm with the Church of Saint Nicolau, buzzing local eateries (make sure you try their Lupins!), the picturesque Sete Cidades lakes, and paddle boards/kayaks for your splashing pleasure. We'll cross our fingers that the weather kisses our visit to Miradouro Vista do Rei for the prime kodak moment of the day. If we have time and energy to forge onward after our visit, we can jump into the van for a visit to Mosteiros and the natural pools along the coast.
Day Four, Wednesday, June 24th:
We begin this day with hike #2 of our trip. This is our personal favorite as it not only takes us to one of the prettiest waterfalls on the island (which you can swim under and cool off) but also traverses through the remote lost village of Sanguinho. The hike is a fairly constant climb, but is well worth the panoramic view over the village of Faial da Terra and the Atlantic ocean towards the end. To reward ourselves after our hike, we'll savor the local specialty of Cozido, view steaming fumaroles, and soak in the volcanic hot springs in the village of Furnas.
Day Five, Thursday, June 25th:
Did you know the Azores is host to 1/3 of the whale species in the world? Today we hope to get the chance to spot a few of them on our whale watching tour. The boat ride will be a bit adventuresome for most of us as we hop into a Zodiac for a speedy ride to locate these majestic creatures. Local spotters will be standing high up on the hillside radioing down to our captain the location of their whale sightings. After a few hours of whale watching, we'll grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant and then hop into a converted old fishing boat to explore the protected offshore nature reserve Islet da Vila Franca with it's bird sanctuary and unique snorkel opportunities.
Day Six, Friday, June 26th:
Today starts with the last of our 3 hikes. This one is a bit less stressful than the other two and is typically walked in quite a bit of fun ghostly fog. The hike will take us past peaceful lakes and marshes while possibly giving us some great panoramic views if we are lucky enough to observe the fog lift and unveil the surrounding beauty. Take it in. Breathe deep. Walk slowly. Cherish the surroundings. This area is also home to another one of Sao Miguel's most photographed viewpoints. We will walk to the overlook both before and after the hike to try to capture the photographers dream shot. The rest of the day we'll retire in Ponta Delgada to have one last day of shopping, eating, and sightseeing in the big city.
Day Seven, Saturday, June 27th
Flights out of our gorgeous island home for the past week. Take a few last pictures, grab a quick breakfast, and we'll likely all head to the airport together to shed a few tears over a trip we don't want to end. Funny how one week can create such strong friendships.
Maximum group size: 8