Spring in the Azores brings a host of wildlife opportunities and this 7 night special interest tour to seek out migrating Blue whales, European migrating birds and endemic plants.
Our fully guided natural history tour of the Azores takes us to the islands of Sao Miguel and Terceira. The trip will be led by an experienced naturalist from the UK with extensive knowledge of the islands.
To enhance the trip, we will also be drawing on the valuable experience of some local experts in flora and geology. The trip’s aims are quite diverse, but we hope to see migrating blue whales and dolphin, American waders, ancient laurel forest (which once covered much of Europe and can now only be found in Macaronesia) and some local bird species including Goldcrest, Chaffinch and the Azores Bullfinch.
Highlights: – Volcanic crater of Sete Cidades on Sao Miguel, Whales and birds of Terceira, endemic flora of Terceira and the Azores bullfinch (Priolo) project of Sao Miguel.
Evening meal arrangements: – Evenings are free, however your guide will make a reservation each night at a local restaurant for those wishing to come along. The evenings are relaxed and informal, with an average 3 course meal with wine costing around £15-£25pp.
This year’s Natural History Tour of the Azores trip starts on 1st July 2017.
Your Azores Nature leader will meet you at London Gatwick at the SATA check-in desk 2hrs before the flight departure time. On arriving on São Miguel Island we shall take the 15 minute transfer to our hotel in Ponta Delgada. Once checked in to our rooms, we shall take the short walk to the marina where we will eat at a local restaurant. En route to the restaurant we should see our first Azores Gulls as well as any waders and terns that may be present.
Today we shall take a jeep safari of the western side of the island with our expert volcanologist. The day will give a basic introduction to the geology of São Miguel and an excellent overview of the island's stunning landscape, its geological formations and its relevance to the many aspects of the Azorean wildlife that we will be looking for during the week. We shall take a restaurant lunch in the coastal town of Mosteiros and then spend the afternoon taking in the wonderful scenery of probably the most famous of all Sao Miguel’s volcano craters, Sete Cidades as we drive around the edge of the crater!
This morning we shall take the drive to the Priolo Centre. Priolo is the local name for the endemic Azores Bullfinch. We shall spend the morning learning about the hard work that is being done to protect this vulnerable species and the Laurel Forest in which it lives.
Laurissilva (Laurel Forest) is a suite of species from an ancient assemblage that once covered large areas of Europe but is now confined to the Macronesian islands. Typical shrub species include Azorean Holly, Azorean Blueberry, Azorean Cherry, Azorean Heather, Azorean Juniper and Azorean Laurel.
We will spend some time exploring the area looking for the Azores Bullfinch and the endemic races of Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Buzzard as well as the many endemic plants which make up this important habitat. We shall also climb up into the mountains where we shall look for the endemic Azores Grayling butterfly.
This morning we shall take an early breakfast before taking the short transfer to the airport and an internal flight of around 40 minutes to the island of Terceira. On arrival we shall be met by our expert botanist, Cecília Melo and then travel to Santa Barbara National Park. for an introduction to some of the endemic plants that occur here. The reserve here is located at around 1,000 metres above sea level and gives a fantastic view around the island. However, the weather here can sometimes be unpredictable, so if the weather does prevent us from visiting this site, we shall explore some coastal habitat nearer sea level.
The islands around the Azores are simply teeming with marine life and during the next two days we shall be taking boat trips to explore this wonderful environment. Our itinerary shall to an extent be dictated by the weather and needs to be flexible but during the three and a half days that we have on Terceira, we intend to provide up to five boat trips. These will be made up of three short morning whale and dolphin watching trips before returning to land for lunch followed by two longer afternoon trips returning at dusk more focused on seabirds. Our target species shall be as many whale and dolphin species as possible including Common, Bottlenose, Atlantic Spotted and Striped Dolphins as well as Sperm Whale and Fin Whale and possibly some of the rarer Beaked Whales and even Blue Whale. We shall also be searching for Loggerhead Turtle and Blue Shark. Bird targets include the endemic Monteiro's Storm Petrel, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Sooty Tern and maybe some of the rarer seabirds.
Our Natural History Tour of the Azores visits two of the most impressive islands scenically, but also with the largest areas of endemic vegetation. For more information on Terceira and Sao Miguel, see below.
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.
Brilliant holiday organised by an excellent company!
Friendly, helpful, professional and completely geared to us as individuals.
John and Janice
Very helpful staff, and the trips they organised for us were excellent with knowledgeable guides.
A really wonderful holiday!
We normally travel independently, but I am go glad that we used Archipelago Choice – their insider knowledge was really helpful in making the most of our time.
Valerie – Brighton
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