The Azores’ island of Sao Miguel has two inescapable attractions. For some visitors it’s all about the wonderful whales and dolphins , whilst for many others it’s the volcanoes that exert the strongest pull.
I would include myself in that second category; If you’ve ever visited our office here in the Lake District, you’ll know we live in amongst some of the most beautiful peaks and mountains in the UK. But geologically they’re old, and 400 million years of tectonic collisions and erosion have really taken their toll. Sao Miguel’s 15,000 year old volcanoes are babies by comparison and so for us, a four-hour flight to the Azores is also a trip to 399,985,000 years into the past ( just go with me on this for a second … ).
The volcanoes that formed Sao Miguel have not eroded into Lake District-style peaks and valleys – they are all still here for you to walk on and around, and in some cases inside of. Nor are they extinct: as you’ll also discover during your time with our resident guide and geologist, they’re merely dormant. One of Sao Miguel’s most famous spots, the geothermal pools at Furnas , owe their existence to the volcanic activity that’s ever-present just under your feet – and you’ll have plenty of time to relax with a swim in Furnas’ fabulous pools.
Obviously, with the mere mention of geology there’s a danger we’re conjuring up images of dull Geography lessons, nudging igneous rocks around your school desk to highlight the boredom until lunchtime. This is not an intense educational week of studying rocks. Far from it – the scenery is just extraordinary, the people are friendly and welcoming, and the food is fantastic.
Think of it as an island holiday with a ‘geological twist’, and there’s plenty of time to go whale watching, maybe kayaking or biking … as always, we’ll suggest a few of our favourite things to see and do on the island, and you can slot them in your free days.
Price Per Person
We can create a tailor-made holiday to suit your budget.
What's included ? Your accommodation on B&B basis in a shared twin/double room (if you'd prefer a single room, just let us know and we'll confirm the small additional cost), airport transfers, three full day tours with our resident guide (including lunch ), and return flights. With regards to the flight price, there are a few different ways of travelling to the islands - we try to include a realistic guide price and once we've had a chat regarding your holiday, we'll send you a detailed itinerary which includes an exact price based on your preferred flight option. What's not included ? Other than breakfasts and the lunch during your island tours, we don't include any other meals. There are some excellent restaurants with easy walking distance of your hotels, and we'll let you know which are our favourites.
As with all our tailor-made holidays, we can include a stay at any of Ponta Delgada’s excellent hotels. Our recommendation is the Hotel Camoes – named after 16th Century poet Luis de Camoes, considered Portugal’s greatest poet. Camoes is to Portugal as Shakespeare is to us here in the UK – his epic poem 'Os Lusíadas' famously retells the journeys of explore Vasco da Gama; the first sailor to chart the route by sea from Europe to India. The hotel was originally constructed in 19th Century as a private townhouse - it's now one of our favourite four star hotels on the island. It's just a thirty second walk away from our office if you need any advice during your stay - and the Portas do Mar marina is equally close if you'd like to include a trip to sea.
We include three full day tours of the island during your stay - although they're naturally focused on the geology of the island, our guides can't help digressing into the island's social history and ecology, (and everything's inter-connected of course). We also try to strike a nice balance between these active days, whilst still giving you plenty of time to enjoy the relaxing pace of Azorean life.
You'll spend your week on Sao Miguel, the largest and best-connected island in the Azores. There are direct weekly flights from Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester, and you can fly most days via Lisbon from Heathrow. Edinburgh and Birmingham via Lisbon could also be options - we can talk you through all the possible routes to see which fits best. Each Azorean island has something unique, but only Sao Miguel has it all - volcanoes and crater lakes, rugged Atlantic coastlines and the chance to bob-around in a geothermal swimming pool.