Ascending Mount Pico is one of the great European hiking challenges, but for many, it’s the Whales and Wines of Pico which are the biggest draw.
We often comment on the ‘Ilhas Triangulo’ being the perfect Azorean island getaway. Seeing Sao Jorge from Faial for example, or the view across the narrow channel from Faial from Pico – it’s counter intuitive perhaps, but there’s something about these three islands being in close proximity which heightens their remoteness, making you more aware you’re sitting on a tiny island in the middle of the vast Atlantic Ocean.
Pico’s landscape is dominated by the Montanha do Pico: an immense 2351m stratovolcano and one of the Azores’ most visually striking natural monuments. Man’s impact on the island’s landscape is equally dramatic. Pico is covered in a geometric network of rectangular enclosures – these drystone Currais plots are the backbone of the island’s wine industry.
It’s a method of protecting the vines from the fickle winter which evolved over five-hundred years and was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2004. You’ll explore the island’s long history of wine production with our resident guide Joao Xavier, visiting his traditional adega wine cellar to taste his family’s own wines.
The pan-European Great French Wine Blight in the mid-1800s almost wiped-out Pico’s vineyards, and many islanders turned to whaling hunting for their incomes. A corresponding switch occurred when hunting was banned in the 1980s. French naturalist Serge Viallelle offered an alternative to whale hunting – he saw a new future for the hunting infrastructure, combining the islanders’ skills and experience with his own passion for marine conservation. Serge demonstrated that whale watching, rather than whale hunting, was the sustainable way forwards.
Sadly, Serge is no longer with us, but his spirit lives on at Espaco Talassa – you’ll head to sea on three whale and dolphin watching trips with his team, based in the south coast harbour town of Lajes. The waters around the Azores are one of the best places to observe common and Atlantic spotted dolphins, loggerhead turtles, Cory’s shearwaters, and the Azorean sperm whale. Whale tourism is key to the ecology of the Atlantic Ocean, helping to support sea life studies and cetacean conservation.
From £2400 per person
We can create a tailor-made holiday to suit your budget.
INCLUDED: international flights, overnight accommodation ion Sao Miguel in a twin/double en-suite room on a B&B basis, accommodation on Pico in a one-bedroom cottage for two on a self-catering basis, airport transfers, car hire, three whale and dolphin watching trips, a half-day vineyard tour and a one hour wine tasting session.