Volcanoes & Calderas
Welcome to the Azores!
These remote islands offer an array of natural wonders from towering volcanoes and verdant calderas to lush forests and dazzling lakes. Everywhere you go the scenery is eye-drenchingly lovely, the hiking fabulous and the people friendly. Visit Sete Cidades with its sunken landscape drawn almost from science fiction, Lagoa do Fogo with its wild beaches and impression of solitude and Furnas with its belching mudpots and steaming vents. Seize the opportunity to kayak, cycle, whale watch, snorkel with dolphins, walk through a 10,000-year-old lava tunnel, abseil down rock faces or jump off waterfalls into pools of rainbow trout. Finally relax in one of the many hot springs before settling down to platefuls of tapas.
- Flights: Direct return flights from UK regional airports to Sao Miguel Airport (PDL)
- Transport: Car hire from airport pick-up to airport drop-off
- Accommodation: 7 nights in characterful hotels, villas or quintas.
- Meals: Breakfasts where stated
- Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat and fun facts.
- Visit the seven cities of ‘Setes Cidades’
- Marvel at the bubbling mudpots, steaming vents and underground ovens of Furnas
- Hike to Lagoa do Fogo – one of the most scenic spots on the planet!
- Meander down the east coast with its tea plantations, lighthouses and viewpoints
- Swim in natural hot springs pools in the forest or the sea
- Seize the opportunity to kayak, cycle, swim with dolphins, go whale-watching, canyoning or horse-riding
- When can we go? April to October
- What type of tour is it? Self-drive - based in the same accommodation for the whole 7 nights.
- Who is it suitable for? For active families that enjoy nature, ocean wildlife, mountains and lakes. This is not really a holiday for beach lovers.
- What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 5 years due to the active nature of the trip. Please check the recommended activities as the minimum ages will differ.
We publish ‘guideline prices’ for both the high and low season to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children). To get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly.
Guide Price: Apr, May & Oct - £698pp
Guide Price: Jun to Sept - £858pp
After your direct flight from the UK, pick-up your car from the airport and transfer to your accommodation. It’s time to relax by the pool and get settled in to island life.
This day trip takes in the western edge of São Miguel. Lagoa das Sete Cidades or Lake of the Seven Cities is perhaps the most famous Azorean vista. Admire the breath taking 360 degree view which reveals the seven craters contained within this conical mothership. Follow the road down into the crater and bring a picnic to have by the lake. You can opt to turn up the activity notch in the afternoon by mountain biking, kayaking or horse riding. There’s nothing quite like blowing the cobwebs away by venturing across the caldera of a semi-extinct volcano (gulp!).
Afterwards, head to the west coast for a totally therapeutic experience. Here you will find geothermally heated ocean water in a small cove surrounded by gigantic lava rock cliffs. In the evening experience a beautiful sunset and enjoy some local seafood.
Fun Facts: The Legend of Setes Cidades has it that once upon a time a Princess and a shepherd fell in love. The King forbade the two to marry and to ever see each other again. As they bade farewell they wept so much that the two lakes were formed from their tears.
Optional Activities: Lake kayaking, mountain biking or horse riding.
Your morning is free to explore Ponta Delgada or take an optional whale-watching trip. Ponta Delgada has narrow streets emblazoned with tiled mosaics and extravagant murals. Street bars offer African jazz and sizzling plates of grilled limpets. You could easily while away an hour or two here. The Azores also provide an amazing opportunity to watch the majestic whale in their natural habitat. There is the opportunity to see over 25 species of whale and dolphin including sperm whales, pilot whales, blue whales or bottlenose dolphins (depending on the time of year). A turtle or two might also sneak into view.
In the afternoon jump in the car and head to Vila Franca do Campo. From here you can take the boat to the spectacular Vila Franca Islet. Formed from a shallow volcanic crater the interior lagoon is an almost full-circle natural reserve perfect for swimming or snorkelling. The water is shallow and warm and provides the opportunity to see species such as Ornate Wrasse, Parrotfish and Yellowmouth Barracuda.
If you have time afterwards try to visit the nearby lake which isn’t on the tourist maps but is a favourite amongst the locals. It is a 10 minute hike from the car park through a mini-Amazon forest to the ridiculously vibrant green lake.
Fun Facts: The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Championships were held at the islet of Vila Franca do Campo in 2012.
Optional Activities: Whale watching, boat to Vila Franca Islet for swimming & snorkelling.
Today is a geological feast for the senses (but it might smell a bit eggy!) Head over towards Furnas on the Eastern side of the island which is the area of São Miguel with the most volcanic activity. A hike to the gothic church on the western shore of Lagoa das Furnas would be a great way to start the day and you can watch the cooking pots being lowered into their underground ovens on the opposite side of the lake. Then drive into town to witness belching steam vents and volcanic fumaroles boiling with the fury of a thousand infernal kettles. For lunch you have the option of experiencing the ground to table ‘Cozido das Furnas’. This Portuguese stew is cooked in volcanic vents for 6 hours. The afternoon is then free for you to enjoy one of the inexpensive hot springs and the emerald world of the local botanical gardens
Fun facts: One of the major gases in a fumarole is sulphur dioxide which is responsible for the eggy smell!
Optional Activities: Hot springs/spa, botanical gardens, Cozido lunch.
Today is a free day for you to choose your own activities. You could decide to simply relax around the pool and enjoy the Azorean sunshine or have a more relentlessly exhilarating experience. Fantastic options for families include swimming with dolphins or canyoning in the National Park. After the success (fingers crossed) of your whale watching trip earlier in the week you could decide to take it one step further and jump into the cetaceans' own swimming pool with the hope of making new friends. Dolphin varieties include Common, Bottlenose, Risso’s and Atlantic Spotted. Make sure you get a snug fitting wetsuit as the Atlantic Ocean can be mighty cold! Alternatively you could decide to rappel down cliffs, slide down rocks, jump off waterfalls and clamour over river boulders on a guided canyoning trip. Ooh decisions, decisions…..
Fun Facts: Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park houses five watermills on its territory which date back to the 16th century.
Optional Activities: Swimming with dolphins, canyoning.
Today is about getting under the skin of the Azores whilst learning about local industry & ways of life. Firstly head to Capelas for a visit to a local museum. The museum is a labour of love by the retired owner and his wife often shows guests around. This is a ‘living museum’ where you can watch weavers and ceramic decorators practising their crafts and then wander 'streets' of replica shops showing traditional Azorean handicrafts.
Your next stop is the local tea plantation, which offers an interesting insight into the tea-making process, as well as the chance to enjoy a fragrant brew. The plantation is in a stunning location overlooking the sea.
Next is all about the lowly pineapple. See them in the various stages of growth and have the opportunity to sample pineapple juice, pineapple liquer, pineapple jam, pineapple mustard, pineapple chutney …. I’m sure you get the picture. You have the option of continuing with the cultural theme of the day and taking a tour of a rural farm or simply enjoying a long, lazy lunch with typical Azorean dishes.
Fun Facts: It takes 2 years for pineapples grown on São Miguel to be ready for harvest. This compares to just six months for Latin American pineapples.
Optional Activities: Azorean Rural Experience – an insightful tour based on a traditional family run farm.
A day of Azorean contrasts to finish off the trip! First take an optional tour of the largest lava tunnel on São Miguel. A great adventure for the kids and educational too (but don’t tell them!). Next to the indisputably beautiful Lagoa do Fogo that has our pick for the best lagoon on São Miguel, amongst fierce competition. On the drive over, stop at the viewpoint to enjoy magnificent island views - landscapes to channel your inner Gandalf.
Lagoa do Fogo lies in São Miguel’s collapsed central caldera and has wild beaches, crystal clear waters and dramatic mountains. There is a short 2km hike from the car park down to the lake (the hike back up is a bit more of a workout). Swirling mists and the sounds of seagulls add to the “lost world” atmosphere of this special place.
For your next stop drive to the nearby hot springs. These have a rustic and natural setting with three pools (26 & 38 degrees) and a warm waterfall. It looks like fairy-tale pools inside a jungle oasis. The perfect time to visit is late afternoon to revitalise your legs after the days hike before heading back to your accommodation for your final night's rest.
Fun Facts: Lava tubes form when there is a river of molten lava. The sides and top start to cool and crust over forming a roof and the lava flowing underneath deepens the tunnel structure.
Optional Activities: Lava tunnel tour, hot springs.
You will have most of today free to relax and enjoy your last leisurely Azorean lunch. Maybe head into Ponta Delgada to do a spot of souvenir shopping and check out the markets. Then time to head back to the airport to drop off the car and catch your direct flight home.
Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.