The Azores Magic Triangle 2014

  • Destination: Açores
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Price: 2500 €

Number of persons: min. 8 max. 12

Soon you will be in the Azores Islands, in the mild ocean air, pulling your
paddle out of the clear, deep blue water and silently floating along sleeping volcanoes, walking luxurious dense trails, and snorkeling with the graceful blue shark.
You’ll have a chance to observe the ocean´s giants which inspired Hermen Melville, swim along with graceful dolphins, and hike some of the most exquisite walking path in the world.

During this adventure, we will explore three of the nine volcanic islands, the triangle islands, on foot and by kayak and boat. At various times our catamaran will pick us up and deliver us to yet another beautiful bay or small harbor in a remote small town. We will also be using fast ribs when deemed more convenient for the activity.
There is so much to explore! Not only are our kayaks designed to propel
you safely and swiftly through the water, but they are also easy to leap off of for
spontaneous snorkeling. Be prepared to venture from the offshore seamounts to the top of the Pico mountain island and eat freshest fish you will ever experience, taken from the water right in to the onboard barbeque. Apart from kayaking there is a lot of walking, and snorkeling to be done.

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The Azores magic triangle

For this unusual way to explore the magic triangle Islands we have procured a combination of the ideal motor vessel and ribs to get us to all of the most special spots. Traditional houses, improved to meet modern comfort standards and yet allow for a cultural experience, await you. Since we are a small group we will have an intimate experience, there’s just no better way to visit the Azores, ratted the second best island destination for sustainable tourism by National Geographic Traveler

Day 1

Ponta Delgada Faial or Lisbon Faial

Meet driver at airport and transfer to hotel in Horta. Sightseeing on your own in Horta, meet the teams and the group at world known peter´s café, for the traditional welcome gin. Short stroll around the port and marina areas, then we will try the geer, meet the kayaks and the Catamaran. Dinner at Peter´s.

Day 2

Capelinhos and S. Jorge

After a breakfast in the hotel, the transfer will take us to the Capelinhos volcano interpretation center for a couple of hour’s visit where you will learn about this and other volcanoes, its impact on the islands and the origin of the archipelago.

We will then walk to the old Capelinhos ramp, where the traditional whaling canoes use to be launched to search of their bounty. Here we will have picnic and prepare for the first kayaking trip. This trip will take us around the Capelinhos volcano, a volcano which rose from the ocean, to enjoy the magnificent and unique landscape of black and fire red cliffs where hundreds of seabirds find shelter. Once we get to the, otherwise inaccessible Capelinhos beach, we can beach the kayaks and enjoy the calm for a while, before we return. There, two ribs will take us back to Horta, along the south shore, where the catamaran is waiting to take us to São Jorge island. The catamaran will take us to Calheta, a small town in the south shore, in less than two hours. Keep your eyes on the ocean for the thriving marine life, particularly the sperm whale blow on the horizon, loggerhead sea turtles, dolphins and marine birds.

Dinner will be prepared and served on board before the transfer takes us to Quinta de São Pedro traditional houses.

Day 3

Rosais, fajãs do Ouvidor, Cubres e Sto. Cristo

(fajã is a platform originated by a massive land slide from the steep cliffs, latter colonized by a handful of local farmers and fishermen due to its easy access to the water, fertile soil and microclimate. Access is usually very difficult and sometimes only possible by small boats)  

Early in the morning, the catamaran will take us along the south shore towards the western most tip of the island, the ponta dos Rorais, where we will be face to face with the dramatic cliffs and islets, painted in tones of fire red and black, plunging in to the deep blue water. Here we will have a chance to snorkel and potentially encounter large predator fish, such as barracuda, jacks, blue fish and others, which usually prefer the tips of the islands for hunting.

Then we will continue our trip along the north shore until we get to the fajã do Ouvidor. Here we will come to shore and find the most extraordinary natural swimming pool, the Simão Dias pool, where the crystal clear water body is limited on one side by five story high black walls and basalt columns shaped by nature, on the ocean side.

Following a refreshing swim we will get our strength back while enjoying traditional cosine at a local restaurant. After a shot of coffee, the catamaran will take us to the fajã dos Cubres, from where we will paddle to the fajã de Sto. Cristo, where it´s handful of villagers and the interior lagoon wait for us. Here we can enjoy the peace and quiet for a while before we leave the kayaks behind to walk up the cliff, the only way out is to walk or boat. There, the transfer waits to take us the Calheta village to enjoy skipper´s catch of the day. The night will be spent at local traditional houses.

Day 4

Fajã dos Vimes, Topo islet

In the early morning, we will be driven to the remote fajã dos Vimes, the only place in Europe where coffee beans are grown, for a 3 1/2 hours hike, to the fajã de São João. The trail connecting the two fajãs is luxurious, with dense bush vegetation on both sides most of the way. The fajã de São João is inhabited since 1560, despite the multiple earthquakes driven landslides, the most destructive of which was in 1757. We will have a picnic at the fajã de São João before we are driven to the Topo village, the eastern tip of the island, where the famous São Jorge spicy cheese is produced. We will make sure it is on the menu.

The kayaks will be waiting for us at the Topo village, from where we will leave to explore Topo islet, one of the most important nesting grounds for many migratory marine birds. Here you may also find some “amphibious” cattle grazing next to the nests. These cows actually have to swim the ocean to get to the grazing land on the islet. After paddling back to the Topo, we will wave the Dragon Island goodbye as the catamaran sails off to the mighty Mountain island, Pico.

On our first night in Pico we will sleep on the “tip of the island” at the rustic house farm, escala do Atlântico (Atlantic stopover).

Day 5

Manhenha, Calheta and the whales

In the morning we plan to paddle from the Manhenha village to the Calheta do Nesquim village, along a remote stretch of coast, from where we observe the green patches of graze land, vineyards and dense native bush forest. Up above, our kayaks will probably capture the whale vigias´s (lookouts) attention while they scout the ocean these giants. The catamaran will be waiting for us at our destination to take us to the whaling village, Lajes. There we will visit the whaling museum, maybe do some shopping and have lunch. When we are done, the skipper will radio the vigias, which have been searching the ocean for the marine giants, to let us know which heading to take. The south of Pico island is considered one of best whale watching spots in the world, particularly rich in passing sperm whales and many dolphin species. In the Spring, in addition to the sperm whales, we can usually find baleen whales feasting on the spring plankton bloom. With some luck we might see the largest animal in the planet, the blue whale. Common whales, the second largest animal, and the whales are also frequent in this time of the year. The whale watching trip will end in São Caetano village, where we will have dinner at Norbert´s summer house and then spend the night at seaside B&B, facing the whale sanctuary.

Day 6

Snorkeling with Dolphins

Since we are in whale and dolphin country, we will start the day by greeting the rib skipper waiting for us at the small São Caetano´s harbor to take us on, an unforgettable, swimming with dolphins adventure. On this trip you will find yourself snorkeling in over three thousand feet of blue water. Here you will understand the true meaning of “deep blue”. Once the skipper gives the order, gently slide in the water and enjoy the graceful underwater ballet. The area is famous for the abundance of bottlenose, common and spotted dolphins. Other species such as risso and stripped dolphin are common but are difficult to swim with. It is not unusual to take the opportunity to swim with sea turtles, moonfish and other pelagic marine life. The Coris shearwaters and the Terns will be flying around, scouting the ocean for food and giving away the presence of tuna and dolphin to local fishermen. Back to São Caetano village, we will have lunch and spend the afternoon snorkeling of the house, walking around the village and vineyards, but most of all, relaxing and getting ready for the next adventure early nest morning.

Day 7

Snorkeling with Dolphins

The day starts very early, around 3 am, for a strong cup of coffee, and to pack water and some snacks before we meet the mountain guide. We will be driven to the base of the Pico mountain where we will check in the mountain and start walking up the steep slope before the sun is up. We plan to be way up in the mountain to witness a breath taking sunrise. You will find that although the trail is not technical, in some stretches it may be easier to use both your legs and hands. Depending on how many stops we have to make it should take us between 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours to get to the top. Once on the top, we will find a massive platform, the sleeping volcano crater, centered by another rising cone, the little Pico on top of Pico.

If you still have the strength to climb the little Pico, you’ll be able to feel the earth’s warm breath coming out of deep crevices, while enjoying the unique landscape below. From there you are able to see the “dragon” São Jorge Island and “Turtle” Faial, the “graceful” Graciosa island and the Treceira island, more than half of the islands in the archipelago. After we´ve enjoyed the view and a bit of rest we start walking down which takes as much time as the way up.

After we return to São Caetano the fatigue will start kick in so the rest of the day can be spent as you which, either snorkeling, strolling the village and vineyards, visiting the whale lookouts and the traditional wine and spirit sellers, or simply just relaxing.

Day 8

Hiking the vineyards and paddling to Faial

For the last day in Pico we saved the 8 km, easy but exclusive, hiking on the UNESCO world heritage landscape, the Pico vineyards, one of the most unique walking paths in the world according to bootsnall (http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/11-10/8-of-the-most-unique-walking-paths-in-the-world.html). Here, early Azoreans planted the vineyards in lava soil, delimited by tight loose stone walls named “curraletas” protecting the vineyards from the sea wind, but letting the sunlight in, necessary for wine maturing process. Seen from afar, these vineyards show how hard the life of these men and women used to be in ancient times.

The hiking will end at the calhau small harbor where a light lunch will be served and we can rest our legs for a few moments, before we set out to paddle the 5 mile channel between the Faial and Pico islands. This will probably be most challenging paddling adventure as the currents can be fairly strong. Don’t worry we will have a rib with us at all times so we can all fell more confident. While paddling keep your eyes open for marine life, particularly marine birds, sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins. We should arrive at Faial just in time for diner and then a transfer will take us to the “Quinta da meia eira” where we will find very comfortable traditional housing facilities with all the commodities you need to relax and recover from a long and exiting day.

Day 9

Snorkeling with sharks

We get up early, have breakfast and head down to the Varadouro bay where the rib, loaded with tuna bait, is waiting to take us to the ultimate adrenaline rushing experience, snorkeling with the blue sharks. Before we leave, the guide and marine biologist will brief us about this adventure and what we should do in order to keep risk as low as possible and make the most of this adventure. Once we get to the Condor seamount, off Faial island, the skipper will start chumming the water hoping that o few molecules of fish odor are captured by the hyper sensitive olfactory organs in the sharks “nose”. We wait for the guide´s signal, then, in small groups, we gently slide into the water and start enjoying this overwhelming experience. You will find that the blue shark is probably the most beautiful and elegant creature you have ever seen, and this adventure will win a special place on your book of memories.

The shark snorkeling trip will end at Feteira picnic park, where we will have a light lunch before we paddle, 3 miles, along the “ponta furada” fantastic coastline, and explore the many caves and basalt arches. The final destination is the porto Pim bay where we will end this adventure as we walk the sands of the Pim beach up to the seaside tavern, for cold drinks while enjoying the sun set. Dinner will be served at the “canto da doca” restaurant, where all the food is grilled on the table on individual hot stones. After dinning, the transfer will take us to the “Quinta da meia eira”.

Day 10

Return Home

We will have a couple of hours o free time in the mornig  before the flight which you can use as you see fit. We bid farewell to our crew and local guide. We transfer to the airport and fly home.