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 AzoresSao 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 not 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 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.

Terceira’s home to the Azores’ oldest city Angra do Heroísmo. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Azorean culture without the hustle and bustle of Sao Miguel, Angra’s cobbled streets, historic architecture and friendly population give the city a seductive charm. As a protected UNESCO world heritage site, the city’s stately 17th and 18th century architecture bears witness to Angra’s golden age, when the city blossomed economically, culturally and architecturally, and long list of exiled members of the Portuguese nobility called Terceira their home.

Inland, Terceira’s rugged interior provides a glimpse of how the Azorean landscape looked to the first settlers arriving in the 15th Century. Just over 20% of the island is classified as a protected Natural Park, to preserve and protect the last remaining laurisilva and juniper forests. It’s also a very volcanic landscape of criss-crossing lava flows and spectacular cave systems – most famously at Algar do Carvao: a unique 3000-year-old volcanic chimney and one of Portugal’s most-fascinating Natural Monuments.

Our Terceira Family Holiday and Terceira Activity Week are great ways to explore the island, or  include a stay on Sao Jorge for an island hopping adventure.

My favourite activity in Azores

A self-guided walking holiday is one of the best ways to explore the Azores, and we know the islands’ trails like the back of our hands. 

The Azorean walking trail network has blossomed since the first way-marked trails were created by Dutch naturalist and birding guru Gerbrand Michielsen twenty years ago. Sao Miguel is a great introduction to walking in the islands and has arguably the best caldera walk – the Cumeeiras trail at Sete Cidades – and the Sanguinho trail up to the Cascata Salto do Prego waterfall is one of the most popular routes in the Azores.

Sao Miguel’s smaller neighbour Santa Maria has it’s Grande Trilho route – a circumnavigation of one of the Azores’ most peaceful island over four leisurely days, whilst the trails on the island of Terceira offer a glimpse of the eco-system as it was when the first settlers arrived in the 14th Century.

Perhaps most famous amongst walkers is the challenging ascent of Mount Pico – Portugal’s highest peak at 2351m. We have a helpful online guide to climbing the mountain, and Pico (the island itself) has some wonderful, less-extreme walks to suit all abilities. Two of our personal favourites are the islands of Flores and Sao Jorge – Flores for it’s stunning coastal walks which traverse it’s wild west coast, whilst Sao Jorge’s seacliffs and faja trails are an unforgettable hiking adventure.

My favourite accommodation in Azores

The Azor Hotel is a luxurious five-star hotel overlooking Ponta Delgada marina.

This stunning modern hotel opened in May 2016 and is located on the seafront Avenide in Ponta Delgada, capital of the main island of São Miguel. It has 123 sea view rooms comprising 117 standard rooms and 6 suites (74/92m square) with free high speed internet access, air conditioning, safe, hairdryer, minibar, ipod dock, and smart TV. The Hotel also has a spectacular rooftop pool and cocktail bar, a spa, a gym, and excellent restaurant and a wine and cheese shop.

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