Azores small group tour
Description of Azores small group tour
The Azores, an island group boasting hot geysirs, rugged volcanoes and a wild natural beauty just waiting to be explored on this small-group 10-day tour. Explore the most well-known island in the group, Sao Miguel, with visits to Furnas Valley and its thermal springs and sample a meal cooked in traditional Cozida style. Hop over to Terceira Island and enjoy the panoramic vistas from Serra Do Cume viewpoint and visit popular UNESCO-registered Angra do Heroismo.
Crossing to Pico Island embark on a whale and dolphin watching excursion, a real highlight of any trip to the Azores. Cross by boat to Faial Island to explore the island's lively capital at Horta which has a harbour full of colourful yachts. Spend time discovering the history of the Capelhinos volcanic eruption and the moon-like landscape around the volcano itself which stands in stark contrast to the pretty flower-lined lanes of the rest of the island. With the cleanest unpolluted air in the world and a very peaceful, laidback way of life, this Azores holiday will leave you relaxed, refreshed and ready to go.
|Day 1||Today take the flight to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island (via Lisbon). Land and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure before a welcome dinner and folklore concert in a traditional, local restaurant as a group. (D)|
|Day 2||Drive to the Furnas Valley. En-route stop at the ocean viewpoint at Pisão at Água de Pau village before driving on to Vila Franca Do Campo, the first capital of the island. Visit Furnas lagoon and taste traditional cozida nas caldeiras (cooked in the ground using volcanic heat). After this unique lunch explore the botanical garden and see the geysers and mineral water springs: bathe in the waters if you wish (don't forget your swimmers and towel!). Explore the tea plantation and tasting and drive onwards to Lagoa do Fogo, a lake in the interior of a crater in an extinct volcano. Return to the hotel. (B,L)|
|Day 3||Discover the valley of Sete Cidades which comprises two lakes in the centre of a volcanic crater. Stroll along the lakeshore or enjoy a coffee in a local cafe. Stop for a buffet lunch at a typical Azorean restaurant followed by a visit to the Ethnographical Museum in Capelas Continue to Faja de Baixo to visit a pineapple plantation before returning to Ponta Delgada. (B,L)|
|Day 4||Take a short flight to Terceira Island. Enjoy a full day tour of the island which is also known as Lilac Island. Enjoy views from the Serra Do Cume viewpoint and visit UNESCO-registered Angra do Heroismo. Enjoy the natural swimming pools of black volcanic rock in Boscoitos. Overnight in Angro do Heroisma. (B/L)|
|Day 5||This morning enjoy a walking tour of Angra do Heroísmo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the main church of Se Catedral and the City Museum before a stroll through the shopping district and botanical garden. End the tour tasting some delicious local calorie-laden pastries. (B)|
|Day 6||This morning take a short flight across to Pico Island and transfer to the hotel in the tiny capital of Madalena. In the afternoon take a short drive to the picturesque fishing village of Lajes do Pico. After a talk on the marine conservation and history of whale watching, set out for the open seas in the anticipation of seeing dolphins at play and hopefully the wonderful whales. (B)|
|Day 7||Travel north to the village of Cachorro, where wine production has been the main economic activity since 1852. Visit the wine museum, housed in a former vineyard, and taste different local drinks such as verdelho, blackberry liquor or honey rum. Continue to Sao Roque village and stop at the old whale factory before heading towards Lajes village to visit the Whaler’s Museum. After lunch return to Madalena along the south coast and stop at a typical cheese factory to enjoy a taste of some of Pico’s delicious cheeses. (B,L)|
|Day 8||Take a short walk to the harbour for the 4-mile boat crossing to Faial island. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, Genuino, named after the owner’s yacht in which he sailed around the world. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the Azores most eye-catching town - Horta. (B,L)|
|Day 9||Spend today exploring Faial, also known as the Blue Island. Discover the Capelhinos Interpretative Centre to learn about the eruption of this undersea volcano. Enjoy lunch followed by a pass by the highest point on the island to enjoy impressive views. (B/L)|
|Day 10||Return to Faial airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)|
PlanetThe Azores as a destination boasts a wide diversity of opportunities for environmentally friendly leisure and recreation and received the highest sustainability score on the Global Sustainable Tourism Review conducted by Green Destinations, an international sustainability support system used to measure, monitor and improve the sustainability profile of destinations and regions. It recently implemented an innovative governance system of Protected Areas aiming to improve the management of nature and conservation and ensures the ecological structure and connectivity of the archipelago. The archipelago enjoys sustainable practices ranging from a rich and protected marine life, protected nature areas with well regulated hiking trails to an “eco-school” and the renewable energy use on the island. Water management has been improved by the Regional Plan for Water (PRAA), which aims to encourage a rational use of water.
Aware of the geotourism potential of the archipelago and aiming to conserve the Azorean volcanic landscapes, the regional and local authorities adopted a geotourism strategy which included the creation and implementation of a Geopark. With 121 geosites spread over the nine islands and surrounding seafloor, the Azores Geopark has recently been included in the European Geopark Network (EGN), achieving international recognition. The development of geotourism in the Azores has contributed to sustainable tourism, promoting the local economy and minimizing the sociocultural and environmental impacts of tourism.
Our local agents encourage those that work with them and their visitors to embrace responsible tourism in the Azores, making environmentally friendly, sustainable, ethical and respectful choices when travelling.
They are committed to preserving the regions unique environment and a portion of their profits goes towards various conservation projects in Sao Miguel such as Life Priolo. The Priolo (or Azores Bullfinch) is a bird species endemic to Sao Miguel island, specifically to the mountain area of Serra da Tronqueira in the east of the island. Numbers are estimated to be in the region of 775 birds and it is the most threatened passerine bird in Europe and listed as critically endangered.
In our local agents office, in Ponta Delgada, they recycle as much as possible including paper, cardboard, printer toner cartridges and excess holiday brochures. All the hotels featured on the tour subscribe to the now international standard request to guests to re-use towels and bedding, turn off lights and air-conditioning units on leaving rooms and avoid littering in their local environment. As the tour is a group tour this helps reduce vehicle emissions when compared to private trips or fly-drives.
The tour stays in the Hotel Terceira Mar on the island of Terceira which is committed to good environmental practices. They harness rainwater for garden irrigation which in their last review in 2013 amounted to 52% of their total irrigation consumption. The hotel is working to reduce energy consumption through better temperature control in the hotel. They noted a 10% reduction between 2012 and 2013 and 14.8% of the electricity used was produced by renewable sources (wind and hydro production). They also noted a 44.2% decrease of the use of diesel between 2012 and 2013 due to the decrease in boiler temperature and better control of room temperatures during low occupancy periods.
PeopleWe select suppliers whose businesses are owned and managed by local ecologists, biologists and marine biologists who strive to educate visitors and protect the natural landscape of these beautiful islands. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals.
Our local agents are also committed to helping the local community. Rabo de Peixe is a small village situated on the north coast of the island of São Miguel in the Azores. It is known as the poorest village in Portugal due to its high birth rate and problems relating to alcoholism, school absenteeism and general lack of special teaching classes and, in some cases, domestic abuse. The Project “Rabo de Peixe Sabe Sonhar” (Rabo de Peixe dream maker) was created in 2004 by Jesuit priests in collaboration with a group of young university students. Their objective was to provide holidays for the underprivileged children of Rabo de Peixe. Our local agents are supporting the work of this worthy cause.