Plato's research suggested to him that Atlantis was a land of seafarers who fought wars against Mediterranean peoples and came from beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Atlantis was supposed to be a great island with a giant natural harbour and city of concentric circles. The land sank in about 9,400 BC leaving only scattered islands.
The Azores could be the remnants of the lost world of Atlantis. The beautifully located town of Sete Cidades on Sao Miguel island is named after the seven cities of Atlantis. Further credence is added to this theory from more recent history, in 1811 a new volcanic island was formed and claimed by the British. It was named Sabrina after the ship commanded by Captain Tillard. However the British presence in the Azores was short-lived as the island soon thereafter vanished back under the waves.
For most of recent history the islands have been controlled by the Portuguese and only recently have they gained a degree of autonomy. Though varied they are all basically volcanic in character. Volcanoes, craters, some with beautiful lakes, hot springs and high cliffs abound. The maritime climate combined with rich volcanic soils results in a year-round green carpet of forests and meadows. Heathers, hydrangeas, Himalayan ginger and a wide variety of subtropical and some tropical plants cover the hillsides.
There are nine main islands spanning 400 miles of ocean. Furthest west lie the remote and small Corvo and Flores, then Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial lie close together and are conveniently served by ferries. Pico and Sao Jorge are for the nature and wilderness lover the most attractive. This is where our guided trek is located. Just north of these three lies Graciosa and slightly further to the east Terceira. Finally, at the east end of the archipelago, lie Sao Miguel and Santa Maria.
Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, is located on Sao Miguel, the largest of the islands and the most populous. Most visitors fly in here and then take local flights to reach other islands.
There are several excellent walks on the islands, much through unspoilt country, the people are friendly and crime virtually unheard of. Small villages with narrow streets are dotted along the coast and on the hillsides-tops and in almost every direction there are beautiful panoramas of the coastline and the blue Atlantic. At present there are still only a few hotels on the islands and tourism is in its infancy, it is still possible to walk on mountain paths without seeing other people. Many of the paths are not well marked and some older paths have become overgrown by the vigorous growing Himalayan ginger.
In addition to the coastal scenery, mountains and lakes, the town of Furnas on Sao Miguel stands out as a unique location lying at the base of an ancient crater. In the middle of the old town is a magnificent and extensive botanical garden. There are several hot springs and hot bathing pools in and around Furnas, the largest being located at the heart of the botanical gardens.
Climate and Weather
The average coastal temperatures in July and August are about 25°C and in January 15°C. July and August are dry months with little rain and frequently blue skies. During the winter months occasional storms are to be expected. At all times of the year the humidity can be quite high. The ocean temperatures range from 24°C in August and September to 16°C in January and February.
We organise guided and unguided private trips which are all based at high quality hotels. Our guided scheduled trip takes in the best walks on the "Three Islands" and includes an ascent of Pico - at 2351m the highest summit in the Azores and in fact in Portugal. The ascent of Pico involves walking up rough steep paths but is not technically difficult. It is not allowed to make the ascent without a qualified guide.
Another trip combines three of the best walks on São Miguel staying a few days in Furnas and the rest in a luxury hotel at the coast.