Azores Geography Tour
School Geography Trip to the Azores
The Portuguese archipelago of the Azores are a collection of remote volcanic islands approximately two hours flying time from Lisbon. Due to their westerly position in the Atlantic, they are the western-most part of Europe and in fact so far west that it can even be quicker to fly there from North America than from the UK. This has meant that the islands see far fewer visitors than some other popular geography destinations such as Iceland. For those that make the journey the rewards include spectacular verdant scenery, numerous geothermal sites and dramatic volcanic caldera. There is wild and rocky coastline and agriculture which includes Pineapples and Europe's only remaining tea estate. Opportunities abound to immerse yourself in warm geothermal waters and in the summer months the islands lie on the migratory route for whales and other cetaceans, making whale-watching tours a staple of the tourist economy.
The itinerary featured here is intended to give you inspiration and an idea of what you could do on your tour. Your trip will be created individually by one of our travel advisors to match your requirements and budget.
Flight to the Azores. San Miguel Tour and Pineapple Farm
Flight to the Azores: On arrival on the island of San Miguel you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
San Miguel Tour: The island was first settled in the 1400’s having been discovered by sailors returning from India. It quickly became a Portuguese trading port and the Azores themselves became a key producer of sugar, tea, and oranges for the European market. Many of the unusual native fruits can still be found in the local fruit markets.
Pineapple Farm: This afternoon you visit a Pineapple Farm where the unique Azorean pineapples are grown under glass. Dinner this evening is at your hotel.
Gorreana Tea Factory, Terra Nostra and Furnas Geothermal Area
Tea Factory Visit: This morning you visit a tea plantation and factory. The Azores are the only place in Europe where tea is grown and many of the machines are British and date from the mid twentieth century.
Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens: You then continue to the attractive Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens which has a large, artificial geothermal lake where you can bathe in the pleasant warm waters. The brown colour of the water is due to iron oxides produced by the volcanic rocks and not mud. There are several smaller ‘hot pots’ where the temperatures are a little higher. Take time here to explore the beautiful botanical gardens which have been created from plants imported from around the world.
Furnas Geothermal Area: After lunch you explore the volcanic region of Furnas in the east of the island. Lagoa das Furnas is one of the island’s three massive volcanic lakes and this huge caldera has a town situated in the bottom of it. While there has not been any major volcanic or seismic activity in the crater over the last few decades, the volcanic system is still active today. There are numerous fumaroles, hot springs and small, bubbling geysers. You return to your hotel in Ponta Delgada for dinner.
Lagoa do Fogo Volcanic Lake, Caldeira Velha, Geothermal Power and Waterfall Hike
Lagoa do Fogo: This morning you drive towards the volcanic lake of Lagoa do Fogo. You stop at the viewpoint known as Pico da Barrosa to admire the magnificent view over the lake. On a clear day you can also see across the whole island to its north and south shores, one of the few places on the island where you can do this.
Caldeira Velha: Your next stop is at the hot springs of Caldeira Velha which has a real Jurassic Park feel about it and where there is also a waterfall. The small visitor centre provides information about the unusual biodiversity and geo-diversity of the caldera. As well as visit the fascinating biosphere reserve with its unique microclimate and many exotic species, you may also be able to bathe in the hot springs.
Geothermal Power Station: You visit the geothermal power station close to the town of Ribeira Grande. The tour includes the control room where one of the staff will explain how the power station produces electricity, and you can then visit the perimeter of the plant where various explanatory notice boards give further information.
Waterfall Hike: You continue this afternoon with a short but scenic hike to the waterfall at Salto do Cabrito. The linear route takes about an hour to complete and along the way you will see a small hydro-electricty project. In the evening you return to your hotel for dinner.
Sete Cidades Caldera and Coastal Geography at Mosteiros
Sete Cidades: This morning you hike to the beautiful Sete Cidades volcanic lake situated in a prominent volcanic caldera. The easy, downhill route starts at the classic Mirador viewpoint which gives a spectacular panorama across the lake before descending through pleasant forests into the remains of the caldera.
Coastal Geography at Mosteiros: You continue along the rugged south coast of the island to Mosteiros where you can spend some time studying the impressive coastal geology and landforms including arches, stacks and blow-holes.
Lava Cave, Free Time and Flight Home
Lava Cave: This morning you visit the Gruta do Carvao Lava cave. This was formed many thousands of years ago by a lava flow. Countless stalactites can be seen on the ceiling of the cave: some are conical in shape with a smooth surface, resulting from the solidification of drops of lava; others are irregular in shape, with a whitish colour and very fragile, resulting from the sedimentation of water which has infiltrated into the cave. Other features include structures known as gas bubbles which correspond to sections of the cave wall that burst under the action of the accumulated gases, or otherwise from the presence of cracks in the walls and ceiling, resulting from the cooling of the lava flow.
Flight home: You have free time for last minute souvenir shopping before you travel to Ponta Delgada Airport for your flight home.
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