Emma O'Rourke

I have been part of the Archipelago Choice team for five years and in this time have enjoyed fantastic adventures to the Azores ,   Sao Tome and Principe , Namibia and Gabon . Highlights have been whale watching in the Azores, seeing turtles nesting on Sao Tome and Principe, watching leopard in Namibia and spending time with forest elephant and gorilla in Gabon.

I have always had an interest in wildlife and after completing my masters in Wildlife Conservation I spent a year volunteering on Cape mountain zebra and vervet monkey research projects in South Africa.

When I’m working you’ll find me out exploring the lake district fells with my energetic collie. I love to travel and most recently have enjoyed adventures to various countries in Africa, the Peruvian Amazon, Kurdistan, Nepal and South East Asia.


Emma O'Rourke
Destination Specialist
01768 721040

My favourite part of the Azores

Terceira is Portuguese for ‘third’ – as in ‘the third largest island’ and ‘the third island to be populated’ during the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

The island’s home to the Azores’ oldest city Angra do Heroísmo:  a UNESCO world heritage site – testament to the many members of Portuguese nobility who’ve contributed to the landscape of the town through its long history, resulting in some wonderful 17th and 18th century architecture. If you’re looking for Azorean culture and cuisine but without the hustle and bustle of Sao Miguel, Angra’s cobbled streets, historic architecture and friendly population help give the city a wonderfully relaxing, quiet charm.

Inland, Terceira’s sparsely populated, rugged interior provides a glimpse of how the Azores looked when the first settlers arrived in 1450. Just over 20% of the island is classified as a protected Natural Park to conserve the Laurisilva and Juniper forests. It’s also a very volcanic landscape, formed by criss-crossing lava flows which have created spectacular cave systems – most famously at Algar do Carvao: an 80m deep volcanic chimney formed by two major eruptions 1000 years apart. The cave was first explored in 1893 with extremely basic equipment; but it wasn’t until 1963 that organised descents allowed the cave to be explored more extensively, before being opened to the public in 1968.

My favourite activity in the Azores

Walking is one of the best ways to get to know the Azores, and our self-guided walking holidays cover the most stunning parts of the islands. We provide the route notes and walk maps and the rest is up to you.

São Miguel is a great introduction to walking in the Azores and there are some wonderful crater lake and coastal walks.

The other islands also offer a great variety including an ascent of the highest mountain in Portugal (Mt Pico 2351m), a walk along the west coast of Flores and its curtain of spectacular waterfalls, a trail across land that spewed out of the Atlantic just 60 years ago and the famous 3 Fajã walk on São Jorge where you’ll witness secluded lagoons as you stroll between coastal plains.

My favourite accommodation in the Azores

Azor Hotel is a luxurious addition to the Ponta Delgada hotels.

This stunning modern hotel opened in May 2016 and is located in Portas do Mar – the seafront area by the marina – just 15 minutes walk to the very centre of Ponta Delgada on São Miguel. It has 123 sea view rooms comprising 117 standard rooms (30-37m square) and 6 suites (74/92m square) with free high speed internet access, air conditioning, safe, hairdryer, minibar, ipod dock, bathrobe, TV and balcony with sea view.

The Azor Hotel also has a spectacular rooftop outdoor pool and bar, spa, gym, excellent restaurant and a wine and cheese shop.

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