Max Cousins

I love to travel and experience landscapes and places through activity and have spent many of my holidays hiking, cycle touring and mountain biking in Europe and North Africa.  Living in Keswick in the Lake District is perfect for me – the human scale of the area makes the place easy to live in and accessible to explore, which I do mainly via mountain bike and on foot. Mountain biking here often involves plenty of walking!

The Atlantic Islands touched by Portugal’s presence are fascinating to explore. It would be easier to call them ‘Portugal’s islands’ but of course both Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe are independent countries. I love their volcanic nature, so obvious for example on Sao Miguel in the Azores where the hot springs of Poca Dona Beja are my favourite place to head to, to get directly in touch with the volcanically-heated waters! Pico mountain is another favourite, its upper crater an amazing place to be awestruck at nature’s power. In Cape Verde it’s impossible to ignore stark and arresting Fogo, a huge stratovolcano visiting which is one of the highlights of my travel life so far.

Each country, archipelago, island has its own distinct character which I have been lucky enough to have discovered by visiting and touring with locals we work with. You can have this too – exploring in the company of the people we work with on the islands whether Madeira, tropical Sao Tome, the Azores or Cape Verde gives you a much more authentic and in depth experience in a way that scratching the surface by yourself cannot achieve.

My work life has had plenty of variety, the central theme being working with people to understand what they want, and then help them get it, something that helps me when putting together holidays for our clients.


Max Cousins
Destination Specialist
01768 721040

My favourite part of Azores

A holiday on Flores feels like an escape from the rest of the world.

Flores is arguably the most beautiful island of the Azores archipelago – a flourishing, verdant landscape of rolling hills and crater lakes; of magnificent waterfalls and monolithic seacliffs; of isolated whitewashed fishing villages dashed with Atlantic seaspray.

Unlike the other islands of the Azores, there are no recorded volcanic eruptions on the island and her calderas are generally considered to be extinct. Flores (and her smaller neighbour Corvo) sit on the western-side of the tectonic plate boundary between the North Atlantic plate and the Eurasian plate (with the Azores Microplate squeezed in-between). The plates are slowly moving apart – increasing the distance between Flores and the main island of Sao Miguel by around 25mm each year (a whole 15 metres since the first settlers arrived).

Our favourite places to stay are all in-or-around Faja Grande: a wonderfully easy-going and welcoming little hamlet which has the honour of being the most westerly village in Europe. It’s the ideal place to escape the 21st century and unwind. One of our most popular Flores holidays is our Sao Miguel, Flores and Faial island hopping holiday, closely followed by our Flores Activity Holiday.


My favourite activity in Azores

Cycling in the Azores has really taken off in recent years, making it one of Portugal’s most popular biking destinations.

The larger islands of Sao Miguel, Terceira and Pico are great for road biking. Whether you’re looking to tour an island riding hotel-to-hotel, or if you’d prefer one base and a selection of rides during your stay, or if you’d just like to include a hire bike and a few self-guided rides during your family holiday – anything’s possible.

If you’re a mountain biker, there’s a vast network of enduro trails criss-crossing the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria. Our resident guides will lead you around a seemingly endless variety of trails: dusty singletrack routes that flow through forests of Japanese cedar, vertigo-inducing trails hugging steep-sided river valleys, and full-on downhill tracks and gap jumps for anyone who likes to fly a bike.

We’re bikers ourselves – call us for a chat and we can help you to create the perfect cycling holiday to the Azores.

My favourite accommodation in Azores

Casa das Palmeiras, the House of the Palm Trees is an elegantly restored 19th century townhouse in the centre of Ponta Delgada.

This local landmark was originally built as a home by the 1st Count of Cuba for his philanthropic wife Maria in 1901 – a keen importer of precious metals, silks and porcelains from the Americas and across Europe, Maria and her architect Jose Luis Monteiro (designer of Rossio Railway Station in Lisbon) combined the grandiose style of the palaces of Oeiras with late 1800s nouveau touches to create one of the city’s most-instantly recognisable buildings.

The building lay abandoned for over thirty years, before being lovingly brought back to life by brothers João Pedro and Joaquim Amaral. They’ve renovated and preserved many of the original architectural features, and uncovered the original timbers and tiles which were once thought lost. There are ten en-suites rooms in all: seven doubles on the first floor and three on the second, with interconnecting rooms for families.

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