Overview

Wildlife and Volcanoes of the Azores – Sat 29 June to Sat 06 July 2019 (one off guided trip)

‘The definitive guided holiday to observe whales, birds, flora and the unique volcanic world of the Azores’

There are some things in life you just must do and although you might not realise it, visiting the Azores should be in everyone’s top 10 places to visit!

This unique and almost pristine world of 9 islands is a nature lovers dream come true. The warm, nutrient rich gulf stream passes through the Azores and helps create the ideal environment for both marine life, mammals and flora to flourish. Combined with a mild year-around climate and rich volcanic soils, you have the perfect setting for an amazing natural world experience.

This balanced guided trip is designed to bring you the best of what the Azores has to offer in 7 nights.  You’ll visit the largest two islands in the archipelago; Sao Miguel and Terceira. On Sao Miguel we explore the volcanoes of Sete Cidades (with its spectacular twin lakes and Atlantic vistas) and Furnas (where the ground is still hot!). When on Terceira you’ll go in search of the unique highland flora of the island, flora that once covered all the islands but now isolated to a few protected regions around the Santa Barbara National Park.

It’s the ocean around the islands that makes the Azores so special; they’re like an oasis in the Atlantic!  Rising from the ocean floor, each island creates a protected environment for marine life and birds to prosper. During your trips out to sea you should encounter the great sperm and fin whales, and their smaller cousins, the spotted, striped and bottlenose dolphins.  As you cruise the ocean you’ll be accompanied by shearwaters, petrels and terns.

If wildlife and natural history are your love and passion, then this natural world holiday to the Azores will not disappoint.

 

Itinerary

The Azores islands are closer than you might think and easily accessible from both the UK, Europe and USA. This unique natural history tour starts on the main island of Sao Miguel where you’ll stay for the next 3 nights. It’s a short 15min transfer from the airport to your hotel in Ponta Delgada. Your first night includes a welcome dinner in one of Ponta Delgada’s small local restaurants, where you’ll get chase to me your fellow travellers and find out more about what the week has to offer. Overnight Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel (Bed and Breakfast) Accommodation at Hotel Camoes Meals D
Discovering Sao Miguel’s birds, flowers and insects with local naturalist - The island of Sao Miguel is 84 kms long and on this first morning you’ll head to the most easterly point of Nordeste, in search of the Azores bullfinch (local name, Priolo). This once endangered island endemic is now starting to thrive and is a great example of how determination, hard work and raising awareness of a once endangered species can improve their prospects for survival. During your time in Nordeste we include a visit to the Priolo centre to learn about the hard work being done to protect this vulnerable species and its natural habitat, the Laurel Forest. Part of the day will be spent exploring the area looking for other local endemic birds like Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Buzzard as well as the many endemic plants which make up this important habitat. The island of Sao Miguel rises to over 1000mt above sea level and if time allows there might be opportunities to search for other local species like the Azores Grayling butterfly and Azores Noctule bat (a day time flying bat). Overnight Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel (Bed and Breakfast) Accommodation at Hotel Camoes (B&B) (Meals B,L)
A day exploring the volcanoes of Sao Miguel with local volcanologist - The island of Sao Miguel was formed by the merging of three volcanoes which rise from the ocean floor and locally are known at the Sete Cidades, Agua d’ Pau and Furnas volcanoes. The day starts with a drive to the west of the island to see the Azores most icon volcano, Sete Cidades. This spectacular crater rises from the ocean on three sides and within are two charming lakes and the small village of Sete Cidades. The day will give a basic introduction to the geology of the islands 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 coming week. In the afternoon you’ll head east to the volcanic basin of Furnas. This is an area of hot earth, boiling pools, sulphurous vents and thermal springs. Driving up from the coast takes you through the crater wall and down to the lake of Lagoa do Furnas. From the lake shore you walk along the lake shore to areas of hot earth where locals cook a typical casserole called ‘cozido’ in the ground. Further into the crater is the small spa town of Furnas and the world-famous Terra Nostra botanical gardens. Around the town there are said to be 22 different mineral waters to try, some of which you can taste from the street fountains. However, the highlight of the afternoon will be a visit to the botanical gardens which houses a world class collection of plants from around the world. The gardens were first commission in 1770 now cover an area of 12.5ha which is divided up by paths and canals into various themes which include a thermal pool where you can swim. Overnight Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel (Bed and Breakfast) Accommodation at the Hotel Camoes B&B Meals B,L
An afternoon at see observing whales, dolphins and seabirds - It’s a quick 40-minute flight between Sao Miguel and the island of Terceira, where you’ll spend the next 4 nights. Arriving on Terceira feels like you’ve arrived somewhere very different. It’s less mountainous than Sao Miguel and lacks the impressive craters and lakes, but its capital Angra, has an old-world charm and the island has a wild and untamed interior. Once settled in, you’ll head down to the harbour for the first of two trips out to sea. You never know what you might see, but our target species will include Common, Bottlenose, Atlantic Spotted and Striped Dolphins as well as Sperm Whale and Fin Whale and possibly some of the rarer Beaked Whales. These trips are about more than just whales and you’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles, Blue Shark and a few of the usual bird suspects like Storm Petrel, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Sooty Tern and maybe some of the rarer seabirds. Overnight Terceira (Bed and Breakfast) Accommodation at Hotel Garden Hotel, Angra (B&B) Meals B
In search of Terceira’s unique flora and ancient eco-systems with local botanist - Today is all about delving into the islands botanical past as you head inland to the Santa Barbara National Park. You’ll need to be prepared for a day of short walks on muddy paths and will need walking boots and water proof as it can get a little wet when walking over the higher hills of the island. However, if you’re curious on what the islands looked like before we humans arrived then today will provide you with some answers as you walk through hillsides of juniper, laurel and deep cushions of rain-soaked sphagnum moss. The park is located at around 1,000 metres above sea level and on clear days gives a fantastic view around the island. Overnight Terceira (Bed and Breakfast) Accommodation at Hotel Garden Hotel, Angra (B&B) (Meals B,L)
Searching for the elusive Monteiro’s Storm Petrel and en-route a spot of whale and dolphins watching - A short walk takes you down to the marina for a full day visit to the Bank of Fortune to see Monteiro’s storm petrels. This is a rewarding day but may be reduced to 2 half days if the weather is not suitable for a longer day at sea. There should be time in the late afternoon for a little personal exploration of the islands charming capital and World Heritage site, Angra do Heroisma. Overnight Terceira (Bed and Breakfast) Accommodation at Hotel Garden Hotel, Angra (B&B) (Meals B)
Discovering Terceira birds, flowers and insects with local naturalist - This morning you’ll head over to Praia Vitoria, an area of sandy beaches and wetlands as you go in search of Nearctic water birds. Initially spending a little time in the Cabo Praia quarry area, which is a popular spot for resting waders, ducks and gulls. Later in the morning you’ll explore the wetlands along the coast, where there are several birding sites of potential interest. Later in the day you’ll travel inland to the lakes of Lagoa Ginjal and Junco in search of more local endemics and rarer vagrants. If time allows we’ll also to visit the impressive lava caves of Algar do Carvao with its underground, cathedral like lave dome. Accommodation at Hotel Garden Hotel, Angra Meals B,L
Tour ends - transfer to the airport and fly home

Price Per Person

We can create a tailor-made holiday to suit your budget.

Jan

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Feb

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Mar

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Apr

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May

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Jun

£2234

Jul

£2234

Aug

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Sep

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Oct

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Nov

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Dec

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HIGHLIGHTS: Searching for the Azores Bullfinch (Priolo) - Exploring the volcanoes of Sete Cidades and Furnas - Whales and dolphins of the Azores - Endemic flora of Terceira - Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens - Monteiro's Storm Petrel and other pelagic birds. Fully guided and accompanied by local island specialists on Sao Miguel and Terceira EXCLUDED: Dinners except on your first night, insurance and personal expenses

Accommodation

On your Wildlife and Volcanoes Tour of the Azores you will be staying in two comfortable hotels on Sao Miguel and Terceira.

Activities

In the company of experts, you'll be exploring the islands by jeeps, minibuses and boats to glimpse the prolific natural history of the Azores.

Location

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.

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