Azores Horses Whales and Volcanos 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 Horses, Whales And Volcanos Tour. 

We’ll experience the landscape in an intimate way and climb right into the belly of a volcano! 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 have the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in their big swimming pool–the Atlantic! 

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, visit the famed Whalers’ Museum, enjoy  a classic saddlebag picnic and experience a traditional alcatra dinner. 

On our Azores Horses, Whales And Volcanos 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 volcanic hiking, pastoral horseback riding, epicurean indulgence and killer coastal landscapes, Faial is the island you have been longing for.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Azores Horses Whales and Volcanos 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 Horses, Whales And Volcanos Tour. 

We’ll experience the landscape in an intimate way and climb right into the belly of a volcano! 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 have the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in their big swimming pool–the Atlantic! 

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, visit the famed Whalers’ Museum, enjoy  a classic saddlebag picnic and experience a traditional alcatra dinner. 

On our Azores Horses, Whales And Volcanos 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 volcanic hiking, pastoral horseback riding, epicurean indulgence and killer coastal landscapes, Faial is the island you have been longing for.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

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.

 

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 21km(13 miles) and 14km(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.

 

DAY THREE: DESCENT INTO CALDEIRA

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

Our energetic Wild Women guide will guide us down the 400m (1,312ft) deep descent into the belly of the volcano. Expect to be floored by the ribbons of waterfalls, sluicing rivers, steep canyons, heather trees and 6-foot high grass of this diverse volcanic environment. 

Later, we’ll have an en plein air backpacker picnic on the bottom of the Caldeira–like, who gets to do that everyday? We’ll burn a few calories as we climb back to the top and descend towards the twee village of our lodge. We’ll arrive in the late afternoon after a rewarding push of 6 hours hiking and reaching an elevation of 1,600m (5,249ft).

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

 

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!

 

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 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 (and bar) 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, of course, a selection of wines! It’s a prerequisite for the island, really. Pack your swimsuit and towel if you fancy a dip after our alfresco lunch!

Afterwards, we’ll visit Lajes, and 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.

 

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 most of the 20 species of whales and dolphins that inhabit the biodiverse waters around Faial. 

Encounters with whales and dolphins are unpredictable and unforgettable! If conditions are favourable, we’ll jump into the indigo Atlantic with diving goggles and a wetsuit to join the wild dolphins in their natural element for a once in a lifetime moment.

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. After swimming with dolphins, it might not be the same though…

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.

 

DAY EIGHT: ONWARDS

After breakfast, we’ll pack our bags with heavy hearts for transfer to the airport. Expect big sighs, bigger hugs and the pressing question, where next?

 

 

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