Discover the beauty of the Azores!
Azores, Portugal - September 13-22, 2020
The Azores are a collection of 9 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 948 miles from the coast of Portugal. These gorgeous islands are just over 4 1/2 hours from the east coast of the United States. The Azores are often compared to the natural beauty of Hawaii and Iceland. Each island has its own unique characteristics. Experience the magnificent volcanic lakes, hot thermal waters and vineyards planted in black lava fields. It is impossible to see all of the islands in one trip, so we will focus on Sao Miguel and Pico Islands, the 2 largest islands, with a day trip to Faial Island.
Sustainable Tourism in the Azores
While the Azores are starting to become a hot spot for European travelers, they are still considered a well-kept secret. They have become well known, however, for their sustainable tourism. In fact, they were selected by National Geographic as the 2nd best islands in the world for sustainable tourism. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council recently held their 2019 Global Conference in the Azores. As sustainable travelers, we will all do our part to help protect the islands while we are there. We will keep paper usage to a minimum at the villa, reusable lunch bags will be provided, travelers will bring a water bottle, etc.
The beauty of small-group travel is that our itinerary can be flexible (with the exception of days involving air travel). It allows for hiking enthusiasts to truly explore the island and for others to just soak in the beauty. It also allows for changing plans based on weather conditions, which can be rather unpredictable in the Azores. The itinerary will be finalized once we know who is traveling and what activities they are hoping to include. Until then, this is the itinerary we are starting with.
Activity level for this trip: Flexible - you decide how much activity you want, but must be able to climb stairs, get in and out of a van or jeep, and walk up to a half mile. The terrain may be rough at times so women with back problems should consult their physicians.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
Upon arrival, you will be greeted at the airport and transported to our private villa, henceforth referred to as "home" for the next 5 days. (click here for more information about accommodations during the trip.) A hot breakfast will be provided at home when you arrive and the kitchen will be stocked with groceries for lunch. The day will be flexible to give travelers a chance to relax, sleep, adjust to time change (4hrs), or explore Ponta Delgada (the largest city on Sao Miguel Island). We will then gather back at home for a delicious Welcome Dinner, prepared by a local chef. (Meals: B,L,D)
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
Our day will begin with a relaxing breakfast at home at a reasonable hour (I promise, we will not rush you out the door at some ungodly hour.) We will then spend the whole day with one of the best local tour guides on Sao Miguel, starting around 10am. We will explore the west side of the island, the highlight of which will be visiting Lagoa das Sete Cidades, "Lagoon of the Seven Cities," twin lakes found in the crater of a dormant volcano. These lakes are so ecologically different that one appears green and the other blue. We'll also visit the city of Ribeira Grande, with its unique historical center dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
After breakfast, we will head out with our fabulous tour guide once again for another exciting day on the road. We'll head east this time, as we explore the Furnas area, known for its crater lake, thermal pools, and quaint villages. We'll have the opportunity to eat the traditional Azorean stew, Cozido das Furnas, cooked underground with volcanic heat. Our day will include a visit to a traditional pottery factory, as well as a tea plantation (the Azores is the only place in Europe where you can see a tea factory.) (Meals: B,L,D)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
You've got the day to yourself and options are limitless!
swimming with the dolphins
biking, to name a few
If you would like, our tour guide will be happy to help you plan your day. You may decide to just relax at the house or head out on your own. The choice is yours. (Meals: B)
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
We'll reunite with our tour guide and travel along the north coast of the island to Nordeste, boasting mountains, woods, waterfalls, belvederes that rise over the sea, beautiful villages and a multitude of flowers. Nordeste, known for its remoteness, is the least visited part of the island, yet offers magnificent coastlines, and is the oldest geological part of Sao Miguel Island. (Meals: B,L,D)