Azores Horseback Riding Tour

About the Experience

The landscape of Faial Island shifts from volcanic craters to mirror-surfaced rock pools, beech forest and roadside blooms of wild blue hydrangeas. Feel the hug of nature on our Azores Horseback Riding Tour. 

The island’s volcanic origin leaves unmistakable marks on the landscape–right down to the rich soil that produces the coveted Verdelho grape varietal.

In the company of passionate marine biologists, we’ll learn all about the behaviour and antics of the local whale species and possibly have the lucky opportunity to observe wild dolphins too!

We’ll take a ferry to the neighbouring island of Pico to sample the century-old wine culture and vineyards of the “cookie lands”–so rare that they have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll poke around old whaling villages, enjoy a classic saddlebag picnic and experience a traditional alcatra dinner. 

On our Azores Horseback Riding Tour, we can split the group into beginners and advanced riders to ensure everyone is challenged and rewarded. Please note that this trip is suitable for confident beginners with some experience but not advised for non-riders.

The Lusitano horses are a majestic Portuguese breed thought to be one of the oldest in the world and their stoic nature is a peaceful presence.

If you’re looking for a balance of hiking, pastoral horseback riding, epicurean indulgence and killer coastal landscapes, Faial is the island you have been longing for.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Azores Horseback Riding Tour

About the Experience

The landscape of Faial Island shifts from volcanic craters to mirror-surfaced rock pools, beech forest and roadside blooms of wild blue hydrangeas. Feel the hug of nature on our Azores Horseback Riding Tour. 

The island’s volcanic origin leaves unmistakable marks on the landscape–right down to the rich soil that produces the coveted Verdelho grape varietal.

In the company of passionate marine biologists, we’ll learn all about the behaviour and antics of the local whale species and possibly have the lucky opportunity to observe wild dolphins too!

We’ll take a ferry to the neighbouring island of Pico to sample the century-old wine culture and vineyards of the “cookie lands”–so rare that they have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll poke around old whaling villages, enjoy a classic saddlebag picnic and experience a traditional alcatra dinner. 

On our Azores Horseback Riding Tour, we can split the group into beginners and advanced riders to ensure everyone is challenged and rewarded. Please note that this trip is suitable for confident beginners with some experience but not advised for non-riders.

The Lusitano horses are a majestic Portuguese breed thought to be one of the oldest in the world and their stoic nature is a peaceful presence.

If you’re looking for a balance of hiking, pastoral horseback riding, epicurean indulgence and killer coastal landscapes, Faial is the island you have been longing for.

 

DAY ONE: WELCOME TO AZORES

Plan to arrive at Horta (HOR), Faial Island’s airport, in the afternoon. We’ll pick you up and head to our accommodations for check-in and a recharge after your flight. 

Faial is an integral part of the “triangle islands” that are located in the central group of the Azores archipelago. Together with São Jorge and the neighbouring Island of Pico, they are separated by the narrow Faial Channel, an inlet that is about 8km (5 miles) wide.

Flemish settlers named the isle “Faial” because of the number of beech trees (faias). Cedars, junipers, ferns and spongy moss also carpet and texturize the island in a rapturous way.

There will be time to meet and connect with the trail horses before dinner–-they will be our trusty partners for three transformative days of horseback riding!

We’ll swap travel stories, first impressions and laughs over dinner tonight in the lodge.

Meals Included: Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY TWO: TRAIL RIDES

We’ll start the day with a super healthy locally-sourced breakfast before heading out to the paddock to prepare our horses. As we become better acquainted with our equine companions, we’ll find a natural rhythm and ride for a couple of hours to a popular whale-spotting point. Our talented chef will be patiently waiting for us with an elaborate picnic.

It’s a big sensory day: the relentless briny wind, the thrill of whales pushing through the ocean’s surface, an al fresco picnic and the stoic company of horses. Faial island is just 21 km(13 miles) long and 14 km(9 miles) at its widest point–and we will be able to experience it in an intimate way.

Depending on the group’s skill levels, we can split into two groups of riders and finish our day with trail rides that cater to everyone. Dinner will be at the lodge tonight!

Fun fact: It’s known as the “Blue Island” due to an abundance of hydrangeas. They spill out of windows and wildly flourish between fields and roads.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY THREE: HIKE THE CALDEIRA

After breakfast, we’ll drive to the tiptop of the island to the rim of Faial’s volcano, Caldeira do Faial. It sits 1,043 m (3,421 ft) above sea level and is the largest geomorphological structure that forms the island.

Our energetic Wild Women guide will lead us around the top of the mighty volcano–it’s a dramatic 400 m (1,312 ft) drop into its belly but we’ll safely hug the rim! Expect to be floored by the ribbons of waterfalls, sluicing rivers, steep canyons, heather trees and 6-foot high grass during this walk through the diverse volcanic environment. If the weather is inclement, the mossy rocks can be slippery so be sure to rely on your Spidey senses.

Later, we’ll have an en plein air backpacker picnic and burn a few calories as we descend towards the twee village of our lodge. We’ll arrive in the late afternoon after a rewarding 6 hour push of hiking, walking and scrambling.

After a reboot in a hot shower, we’ll gather for dinner on the closed terrace of the lodge.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY FOUR: CAPELINHOS VOLCANO

After breakfast and some punchy coffee, we’ll drive to the Jungle Horse Camp to meet our horses. Slicing through the appropriately jungle-like “Mystery Zone of Faial,” the serpentine trail will lead us along the western cape to the Volcano of Capelinhos. The views are non-stop: the shimmer of the Atlantic coastline, tidy rows of vineyards and countless adegas (wine cellars).

Quietude awaits in the old whaling village blanketed in volcanic ash. The last eruption was 1957 and the haunting scene of a partially buried lighthouse and displaced villagers is soul stirring.

We’ll stop at the Volcano Visitor Center and spread out for a classic saddlebag picnic. After an afternoon of riding we’ll be welcomed by the vistas of the serene bay of Varadero. The mirror-like rock pools beg for a dip! It’s time to rejuvenate with a bracing Atlantic swim.

Dinner will be a casual picnic at the seafront with authentic snacks from the Azores.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY FIVE: JUNGLE HORSE CAMP

After breakfast, we’ll return to the Jungle Horse Camp to reunite with our horses waiting to continue the familiar trail back home towards the north coast. For lunch, we’ll take five and have a celebratory picnic at a panoramic small canyon viewpoint. 

Today we will experience cantering on safe paths, testing our skills and confidence in our horse (and ourselves!). In the afternoon, we’ll return to the lodge and have time to simply relax and stretch. Feel free to meditate, journal, doodle, yoga, cat nap or take close-ups of blooming hydrangeas.

In the evening, our chefs will spoil us with a traditional thematic dinner: “Night of Alcatra.” The alcatra is a stoneware bowl designed for cooking and an integral part of religious “Espirito Santo” celebrations. The first Portuguese settlers introduced the clay pot and the alcatra can be used to prepare Atlantic fish, veal or root vegetables. This ain’t your mother’s crockpot! Unless you’re Portuguese, of course!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY SIX: THE ISLAND OF PICO

Rising before dawn and with a hearty early bird brown bag breakfast in hand, we’ll make a beeline for the Faial ferry boat harbour. A scenic 30 minute passage will take us to the neighbouring triangle island of Pico.

Pico’s mineral-dense lava soil and black stone mosaics–the currais (plots) is the secret behind (below?) Verdelho grapes, a varietal that is finding its way to tables around the world.

We’ll drive to the highest point of Pico that we can in our shuttle van: Mountain’s House. The views over the central islands of the archipelago of the Azores are heart-thumping.

The Mountain’s House provides a front row seat that embraces the entire west coast of Pico and Faial islands. Here, we’ll have a crash course in geology, biology, history and climate of the Pico Mountain Nature Reserve.

Later, we’ll stop at a volcanic cave, and get kitted out with headlamps and helmets. An expert nature park guide will lead the way and tell us about all that goes bump in the dark!

After our mini spelunking experience, we’ll have a seaside picnic and live as the locals do. We’ll taste Pico cheese, homemade bread and, a selection of wines (for those so inclined)! Pack your swimsuit and towel if you fancy a dip after our alfresco lunch!

In Lajes, if time permits and the group is interested (this is one jam-packed day!), we will visit the Whalers Museum in the harbour town. The museum includes three original 19th century boathouses, restored ironworks and an impressive library of reference books and documents fundamental to whaling research. It’s impossible to believe that in 1987, the last Sperm whale was caught in the Azores using the traditional hand harpoon and lance.

On our way back to the ferry boat, we’ll pass the Vineyards of Pico and have time to explore this historically significant area. The extensive lava fields which locals call “lajidos” or “cookie lands” form the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004.

After the passage back to Faial Island, we’ll drive back to our lodge and enjoy dinner and laughs together.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY SEVEN: OCEAN EXPERIENCE

We’ll be up bright and early for breakfast for a transfer to Horta Town. The Azores are known as one of the primo destinations in Europe for whale watching.

In the harbour, a marine biologist team will join us on a scientific whale watching tour. We’ll spend around 3 hours on a powerful RIB on the Atlantic Ocean and hopefully be introduced to some of the 20 species of whales and dolphins that inhabit the biodiverse waters around Faial. Encounters with whales and dolphins are unpredictable and unforgettable–let’s cross our fingers!

Back in Horta, our faces slapped with big grins, we’ll take seats at the famous sailors’ bar–Peter Café Sporta and enjoy a light lunch with a punch! Peter’s is a rite of passage. It’s an institution–and one that serves gin! Since 1918, Brits employed by the submarine cable companies that operated in Horta drank steadily at Peter’s. One of their go-to drinks was a gin + tonic. In 2000, José Henrique Azevedo (3rd generation of Peter) tested a blend of gin and the prestigious “Licor de Maracujá” and Gin Do Mar, the most famous gin of the Atlantic was born.

Today is a free afternoon with lots of time to meander around the town, sample gin or to go swimming at the beach. At the lodge tonight, we’ll organize an incredible farewell barbecue, Azorean-style!

Note: Depending on when the whale watching tour is booked, the day’s itinerary may be reversed. There will be free time in the morning to meander the town followed by lunch (at a different restaurant than Peter’s), the whale watching tour and then a cocktail at Peter’s before returning to the lodge.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Tonight’s Sweet Sleep: Patio Lodge

 

DAY EIGHT: ONWARDS

After breakfast, we’ll pack our bags with heavy hearts for transfer to the Faial Island Airport Horta (HOR). Expect big sighs, bigger hugs and the pressing question, where next?

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!

Wild Women Expeditions and our local partners intend to adhere to the described itinerary. This is only a general guide to follow on your tour of the region. Our itineraries are subject to change, as we cannot predict the weather or other environmental conditions. We are continually striving to make improvements to all our trips based on feedback from Wild Women members, guides, partners, and other research. We reserve the right to alter itineraries based on the above at any time.

Arrival into Horta, Faial IslandThere are several options to fly to Horta:Option 1: Boston – Ponta Delgada Airport (PDL) on Sao Miguel island and then flight from PDL to Horta (HOR)Option 2: Boston – Terceira (TER) and then flight to HOROption 3: US, Canada or international departure to Lisbon and then directly from LIS to HOR

 

Group Rendezvous Point

 

  • Date: Day 1
  • Time: Early afternoon (TBC closer to departure)
  • Location: Faial Island Airport Horta (HOR), or your hotel in Horta

 

 

Notes about Pick-Up

 

  • Arrive in the afternoon at Faial Island Airport Horta (HOR), where we’ll pick you up and drive you to the Lodge. Please let us know your flight details in the Travel Details Form.
  • If you arrive earlier than Day 1, we will pick you up at (or near, depending on location) your hotel in Horta on Day 1.
  • Pick-up times will be determined depending on flight times, and we’ll let you know once we have all the details. Please ensure your travel details form clearly indicates Airport Codes (where you’re coming from and flying to), Flight Carrier and Number, Date, Arrival Time.

 


If you plan on arriving in Horta before the start of your trip, we recommend staying at Azoris Faial Garden.

Departure from Faial IslandDrop-Off Point:

  • Date: Day 8
  • Time: After breakfast
  • Location: Faial Island Airport Horta (HOR) or your hotel in Horta if you are staying on after the trip

If you plan on leaving at a later date from Horta, we recommend staying at Azoris Faial Garden.

You are responsible for booking your own flights or other transport arrangements to the trip start location. These arrangements and any other independent arrangements that you may make are not a part of the trip booked with Wild Women Expeditions and are entirely at your own risk. Wild Women Expeditions accepts no responsibility, directly or indirectly, for any loss, damage or injury to property or person in connection with such arrangements. Should you require assistance with your travel arrangements, please contact:Megan and Zale | Now Boarding Travel Travel SpecialistEmail: wildwomen@nowboarding.travel 

Note: Now Boarding Travel only provides services of 3-star quality or greater. For budget alternatives, please refer to the Lonely Planet guide for your destination.

 

Important: For international and remote destinations, there is always the risk of flight delays, baggage delays and flight schedule changes which may cause late arrivals, which may, in return, result in you missing the group tour departure. For these reasons, we encourage you to consider arriving a day early, which will also help you overcome any jet lag from traveling!


You are fully responsible for your own visa requirements, permits, and certificates for your trip. It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. It is your responsibility to check with the country’s Consulate and your country’s travel website such as Canada’s for up-to-date information about traveling internationally.

  • Passport

Most countries and airlines recommend passports be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected return to your home country. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

 

  • Visa

Note: As fees and policies can change, we highly recommend that you contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent.


There is no obligation to tip your guides, but many participants do when they feel they were provided great service. We are often asked what an appropriate amount is; most participants who provide a gratuity for the team have each tipped in the range of 10-15 EUR/day, which is shared amongst the whole team (guides, facilitator, kitchen, bar, maintenance, housekeeping). This works out to 70-100 EUR per participant for the trip. Tips can be given to reception or to the group leader at the end of the trip if you chose to do so, without obligation or expectation.

  • Rooming Arrangements

Our trip prices are based on a twin share (minimum two women per room), so we’ll team you up with another solo wild woman to share with if you’re on your own, or of course, you can share with your travel partner.

  • Private Upgrades

Private upgrades may be available upon request (pending availability). To request for this upgrade, please contact support@wildwomenexpeditions.com.

  • Bathrooms

All accommodations have a private bathroom.

  • Potable Water

Potable water is provided. Bottles can be refilled at the lodge, and you can safely drink the water from the tap.

If you would like to join Wild Women Expeditions in its commitment to reducing single-use plastic, you can travel prepared with your own water treatment system!

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  • Patio Lodge

During your whole time on Faial Island you will stay in a family-run 4-star-sustainable awarded lodge. There’s a large garden area, intimate dining room, lounge and bar to welcome you. A thirty minute walk to the coast takes you to a protected rock pool for swimming. All accommodations have a private bathroom, Mini-Bar, fluffy and comfortable beds, free Wifi and a great view to the Atlantic ocean.

PATIO Lodge is officially certified and licensed by the Azores Government as “Clean & Safe” Accommodation, Restaurant and Touristic Animation company. To get more information about the program you can visit https://portugalcleanandsafe.com/en.




The currency in the Azores is the Euro. Wild Women Expeditions recommends that each participant should bring enough cash in local currency or available credit/debit funds to cover their meals during travel to and from their destination. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, meals not included in the trip package, shopping, etc., and we also suggest you have access to emergency funds.

  • Currency Exchange Offices & Banks

Please check online for current exchange rates. Wild Women Expeditions likes XE Currency Converter

We highly suggest you read this article: Where to Exchange Currency Without Paying Huge Fees for more information about this for your trip.

  • Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

You will find ATM bank machines in the city of Horta.

  • Credit Cards

Many Portuguese shops, restaurants, and museums will accept international cards, especially in more touristy areas. American cards like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted in a majority of locations. Smaller shops, taxis and markets may only accept cash.

  • Cash

This is the best way to pay for items in the communities we will be visiting. Cash in € (no exchange at the airport and in the Lodge). We recommend i.e.: 300 € for personal spending, bar or tips. Adjust up or down based on your habits.


Please be sure to provide complete, accurate, and up-to-date information about your health & fitness level and keep us updated if there are changes. Wild Women Expeditions trips travel to remote areas where limited or no sophisticated medical facilities exist.A medical emergency situation is extremely unlikely; however, should it arise we need to be prepared with the necessary information to help you.Important Note: If you choose not to disclose a condition, infirmity, injury, or ailment herein and are subsequently deemed to be unfit for expedition travel due in whole or in part to such condition, infirmity, injury or ailment, Wild Women Expeditions guides, and partners shall have the right to remove you from the trip with no refund or compensation payable. Any evacuation expenses incurred are payable by the evacuee via their Medical Travel Insurance or personal expense. 

Getting Fit

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to enjoy your Wild Women expedition. Not by a long shot! You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with our experienced guides at your side and a little camaraderie.

That said, you’ll definitely enjoy yourself far more if you do some preparation so your body is conditioned and ready to enjoy and make the most of the outdoors.

 

Here are a few ideas to help you get ready:

  • Ride!

You will be spending many hours each day with your bum in a saddle, so please ensure you get some riding in before this trip. While this trip is rated “beginner,” we do recommend that you have some familiarity with horses, being around them and riding, at least a little bit, to make it a more comfortable and enjoyable adventure.

  • Work your Core

Keeping good posture and balance on a horse requires a strong core, especially when going up and down steep trails. Doing pilates, or a balanced (focused on strength as well as flexibility) yoga program, can be a great way to prepare for this trip.

  • Take every opportunity you can to be active.

You can improve your fitness a lot just by adopting some new habits; take the stairs at work, go for a walk at lunchtime, park your car away from work and walk. Aim for 30 minutes a day and keep a diary so you can look back on it and feel proud. These may sound trivial but they’re all building blocks!

  • Rev up your ticker!

Think ‘interval training’, which means doing short bursts of high intensity work with recovery time in between. Depending on how fit you are this can mean strolling with bursts of power walking, or jogging with sprints. Either way the aim is to get your heart rate up.

  • Join a local walking or running group.

This is a great way to get fit and you’ll also see new places, meet great people… and make them all jealous when they find out what you’re about to go on your travels.

  • Hill training.

The most spectacular views aren’t from the bottom of a valley – so the places we go on our trips aren’t flat. A little time training on hills and stairs is an investment that’ll pay off big-time when you’re on your trip, where you may required to walk on steep and uneven terrain. When it comes to hills there’s no hurry – get into a slow steady rhythm and you’ll be at the top before you know it. If you’re able to practice riding a horse up and down steep hills and on trails, that’s great too!

  • Warm up, cool down and stretch.

If you’re doing a workout then make sure you start and finish gently and stretch any tight muscles – this will help you avoid any aches, pains and pulled muscles. If you’re a member of a gym try some yoga, tai chi or pilates classes to build up your flexibility, stability and balance.

  • Break in your riding and/or hiking boots.

Blisters and sore feet are no fun at all! So make sure that while you’re getting yourself ready you’re doing the same for your boots. Start by just wearing them around the house, then down the road, and walking the dog. Then ideally do a couple of decent length weekend hikes or rides to prepare them for what is to come. Remember to wash your boots thoroughly before taking them on a trip.

  • Hydration.

When you suddenly ask your body to walk or be active, it needs a bit more fuel than it needs when, say, sitting at a desk all day! The main thing your body needs is water, so stay hydrated and practice sipping water often. Getting a water bottle or hydration bladder is a great way to make sure you have it on hand at all times. Make a habit out of taking a bottle of water with you wherever you go.

  • Nutrition.

Eating little and often will keep your body well fuelled for outdoor exercise, especially food like nuts, dried fruit and bread. The odd bit of chocolate and a few boiled lollies are good for keeping your blood sugar levels up while you’re hiking as well!

  • Have fun!

The most important point of all! You are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. You’re going to meet some amazing people, see some wonderful places and create memories that will stay with you for life. The more prepared you are to tackle the various challenges, the more fun you will have. Also, with all the endorphins you create from all this training, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear! It’s a great way to boost your happy vibes.

  • For more information on getting fit!

Check out our blog, Getting Fit: For a Horseback Riding Trip, which includes a 20 minute workout video specifically aimed at preparing the muscles you’ll need for riding.

 


For general Wild Women Expeditions FAQs please click here.