Azores small group tour, volcanic wonderland

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Azores small group tour, volcanic wonderland

Environment

Whale watching and swimming with dolphins are clear highlights on this trip which are sure to be anticipated and enjoyed by all. It is crucial that any enjoyment is respectful of the ocean environment and its rich marine life. Both activities are overseen by local guides with a profound knowledge of the Atlantic setting. They instruct holidaymakers about responsible swimming and take the tours on non-intrusive routes.

We are in full support of watching cetaceans in their natural environment. It has been well-documented in everything from journals of marine biology to the National Geographic magazine that the confines of captivity can seriously harm the physical and mental health of dolphins – killer whales included in this category. Performance parks in particular can make dolphins dangerously dependent on human support and even lead to neurotic behaviour. In the wild, they are highly intelligent organisms with established social structures. It is this that holidaymakers should see: dolphins (and other cetaceans) as Nature intended. This will inspire them to regard these creatures as impressive wild animals, not theme-park attractions.

Of course, educating visitors about environments is not just limited to the ocean. On land, they will visit places like the Terra Nostra Botanical Garden and the Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park, heading on specially chosen paths to avoid potential damage. At the Priolo Environmental Centre, they will learn about local natural life through an interactive exhibition. They will also be able to find out about the highly necessary conservation work on the Azores bullfinch, which is currently endangered.

Community

The Azores are a small island group that thrive on tourism, which is very much a pillar of their economy. It is well-established that mainland Portuguese destinations pull away significant numbers of tourists – Statistics Portugal (Instituto Nacional de Estatística) has found that the Algarve has almost 25% of total overnight stays, while the Azores does not even have two percent.

We proudly employ Azorean guides and instructors on this holiday, which ensures a local financial benefit. This applies to everyone from those overseeing kayaking on the Sete Cidades lagoon to the biologists which assist with the whale and dolphin tours. Why employ someone from abroad when such valuable expertise is available at the destination?

Clients have a choice between two different hotels on two different parts of the island – São Miguel Park Hotel in Ponta Delgada and the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel in Furnas. Two towns and two communities – with their restaurants and varied shops – can therefore benefit. On the subject of restaurants, it is worth pointing out that this holiday enables visitors to learn about and sample Azorean cuisine, which developed rather distinctly from that of Portugal. Take the ‘Cozido das Furnas’ as an example, which applies a geothermal cooking process to the traditional Portuguese ‘cozido’ stew. ‘Fofas da Povoação’ are another example, showcasing how the village of Povoação has adopted European pastry techniques to make a locally unique delicacy. In both cases, holidaymakers support and learn about a key aspect of Azorean culture: its wonderful gastronomy.

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