Walking in the Azores

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Landscapes of the AZORES: walks and car tours

by Andreas Stieglitz

Good old Sunflowers, those slim blue books that walkers on the Continent trust like seasoned friends from Sicily to the Azores — they never fail to find you a really good walk. Christopher Somerville, Weekend Telegraph

Once again, my wife and I have had a superb holiday using one of your guide books, on this occasion walking in the Azores. Please would you congratulate Mr. Stieglitz on his directions, which are clear, detailed and accurate. We quickly gained confidence in this author. (PS, Poole)

We are just heading home from a marvellous holiday on São Miguel having used your book. It has proved invaluable. (UF, Cambridge)

I found this guide fantastic… its maps and details were far better than the items my tour company had given me. (GH, Amazon)

Click below to read walker’s reviews and use the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon.co.uk (RRP £12.99)

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Description

AzoresThe Azores, nine islands in the Atlantic halfway between the Old World and the New, rise above sea level from a depth of several thousand metres. They are all volcanic in origin and all are covered in this guide book. They are not the remains of the legendary continent of Atlantis, which is said to have sunk in the ocean once upon a time. Nonetheless, there is an aura of mystery about this lush green archipelago … awe-inspiring mountains and peaceful valleys with abundant exotic plants, enchanting lakes of stunning beauty amidst extinct craters, charming hill country with fields and meadows, and magnificent coasts lined by picturesque villages and historic towns. This thoroughly revised sixth edition is a must for anyone planning a walking holiday in the Azores, and a useful companion for anyone planning to explore the Azores by car.

The best time for walking in the Azores is May to October.

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Where to stay

Your choice of where to look for accommodation will be governed by several factors. For instance, if you intend to hire a car you will benefit from a much wider choice. On the other hand if you plan to rely on public transport, you will need to choose a centre offering good access to the walk routes or excursions you plan to do. There is also the factor of what type of accommodation you plan to use, for example whether you plan to stay in a hotel or in a self-catering apartment or villa. The author provides useful advice on the various options in the Where to Stay chapter which will be found in the introductory pages of the book.

Edition/contents etc

5 car tours (on São Miguel, Terceira and Faial), 30+ long and short walks, 21 picnic suggestions
136 pages + two touring maps; plans ofPonta Delgada (São Miguel), Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira) and Horta (Faial), large-scale (1:50,000) topo maps
7th ed, 2015; ISBN 978-1-85691-454-3; UK retail price £12.99 / USA retail price $18.00

Table of contents:

Foreword 5
Some words of thanks; Useful books; Useful addresses;
Web sites focussing on the Azores
Introduction 7
How to get there 7
Getting about on the islands 7
Where to stay 8
Climate and weather 9
Language 10
Geology and vulcanology 11
Vegetation 12
The islands in detail 13
Picnicking 20
Picnic suggestions 21

TOURING
TOUR 1: WESTERN SÃO MIGUEL (with plan of Ponta Delgada) 27
TOUR 2: CENTRAL SÃO MIGUEL 32
TOUR 3: EASTERN SÃO MIGUEL 36
TOUR 4: TERCEIRA 38
TOUR 5: FAIAL (with plan of Horta) 42

WALKING 46
Waymarking, maps 46
Weather 46
What to take 47
Walkers’ checklist 48
Country code 48
Organisation of the walks 49

WALKS
SÃO MIGUEL
1 Mosteiros · Ponta do Escalvado · Ginetes · Rabo do Asno 50
2 Sete Cidades · Lagoa Verde · Vista do Rei · João Bom 55
3 João Bom · Caldeira das Sete Cidades · Remédios 57
4 Água d’Alto · Lagoa do Fogo · Ribeira da Praia · Hotel Bahia Palace 59
5 Furnas · Lagoa das Furnas · Parque Terra Nostra · Caldeiras das Furnas · Furnas 62

SANTA MARIA
6 Paul de Baixo · Paul de Cima · Barreiro Faneco · Chã de João Tomé · Parque Florestal · Ribeira do Engenho ·
Paul de Baixo 65
7 Santa Bárbara · Norte · Lagos · Santa Bárbara 69
8 Santa Bárbara · Cruz dos Picos · Pico Alto · Fornos de Baixo · Santa Bárbara 71
9 Santo Espírito · Calheta · Glória · Cruz · Santo Espírito 73
10 Parque Florestal das Fontinhas · Fornos de Cima · Cruz de São Mor · Malbusca · Parque Florestal das Fontinhas 75

TERCEIRA
11 A city walk through Angra (with plan of Angra do Heroísmo) 77
12 Serreta · Miradouro do Raminho · Cabo do Raminho · Ribeira do Veiga · Serreta 82

GRACIOSA
13 Ribeirinha · Manuel Gaspar · Caldeirinha/Serra Branca · Canada Velha · Lagoa · Praia 85
14 Canada Longa · Furna do Abel · Furna Maria Encantada · Caldeira · Furna do Enxofre · Luz 89
15 Guadalupe · Almas · Beira-Mar · Luz 91

SÃO JORGE
16 Parque Sete Fontes · Farol de Rosais · Ponta de Rosais · Parque Sete Fontes 93
17 Fajã do João Dias 96
18 Velas · Portal do Cedro · Pico das Caldeirinhas · Santo António 97
19 Pico das Caldeirinhas · Pico da Esperança · Norte Grande · Fajã do Ouvidor 100
20 Serra do Topo · Caldeira de Cima · Fajã da Caldeira de SantoCristo · Fajã dos Tijolos · Fajã do Belo · Fajã dos Cubres 102
21 Serra do Topo · Loural · Fajã de Além · Fajã de São João · São Tomé 105

PICO
22 Furna de Frei Matias · Quinta das Rosas · Madalena 108
23 The ascent of Pico 112

FAIAL
24 Horta · Alto da Cruz · Praia do Almoxarife 115
25 Caldeira · Cabeço Gordo · Cabeço do Trinta · Parque Florestal · Capelo 119

FLORES
26 Ponta Ruiva · Cedros · Porto da Lagoa · Parque Florestal da Fazenda · Santa Cruz 121
27 Lajes · Parque de Lazer · Fajã de Lopo Vaz · Parque de Lazer · Porto das Lajes 124
28 Lajedo · Mosteiro · Fajãzinha · Fajã Grande · Porto da Fajã Grande 126
29 Fajã Grande · Ponta da Fajã · Fora da Rocha · Ponta Delgada 129

CORVO
30 Vila Nova · Caldeirão · Vila Nova 132

Bus and ferry timetables 134
Index (by island) 135
Fold-out touring maps inside back cover

Guidebook index

Albandeira, Praia de (Pry-ah deh Ahl-bahn-day-rah) 11, 86, 88
Albufeira (Ahl-boo-fay-rah) 32, 129, cover
Alcoutim (Ahl-koo-teeng) 41
Alferce (Ahl-fayr-suh) 24
Aljezur (Ahl-jay-zur) 18, 20
Almodôvar (Ahl-moh-doh-vahr) 39
Alte (Ahlt-eh) 11, 26, 31, 94, 95, 96-97
Alvor (Ahl-vohr) 18
Amendoeira (Eh-men-doy-ay-rah) 26, 28
Arneiro (Ahr-nay-roh) 108-109, 110
Asseiceira (mountain, Ah-say-say-rah) 123, 124
Azenhal (Ah-zeen-yahl) 98, 101

Barragem (Bah-rah-jeng)
da Bravura (dah Brah-vuh-rah) 12, 19
do Arade (doh Ah-rah-deh) 13, 23

Barranco do Velho (Bah-rahn-koh doh Vehl-yoh) 33, 36
Barreiras Brancas (Bah-reh-rahs Brahn-kahs) 12, 13, 30
Barrier islands 33, 37
Barrocal (Bahr-roh-kahl) 26-32, 90, 106
Benafim (Bay-nay-feen) 31
Benagil (Bay-nah-jeel) 86, 87
Boca do Rio (Bok-ah doh Ree-oh) 11, 60-61, 63, 66-67
Bordeira (Bohr-day-rah)
near Estói 26, 113
near Sagres 20

Bouliqueime (Boh-lee-came) 26, 32
Budens (Boo-denghs) 19, 60-61, 66-67
Burgau (Bour-gaung) 10, 11, 19, 21, 53, 54, 58, 60-61, 62, 64, 129
Cabo de São Vicente (Kah-boh day Saoung Vee-ceen-teh) 20
Cachopo (Kah-show-poh) 33, 35, 36, 41
Caldas de Monchique (Kahl-dahs day Moan-shee-kuh) 13, 21, 23, 24, 129
Camilo (Kah-mee-loh) 54-55, 57
Carrapateira (Kah-rah-pah-tay-rah) 20
Casais (Kah-zaish) 21, 22
Castro Marim (Kas-troh Mah-reem) 12, 33, 34, 39, 41, 125, 127, 128
Catraia (Kat-ray-ah) 36
Cerro (Say-roh) 90, 91, 96-97
Chilrão (Sheel-raoung) 21, 70, 72-73
Cruz (Kruj)
de Portugal (deh Pohr-too-gahl) 23, 84-85
dos Madeiros (dohs Mah-day-rosh) 72-73, 77

Daroeira (Dah-roh-aye-rah) 122, 123, 124

Espiche (Esh-pish) 19, 60-61
Estói (Esh-toy) 26, 27, 33, 112, 113, 116, 129

Falacho (Fah-lah-show) 81, 84-85
Faro (Fah-roh) 26, 33, 39, 129
Feiteira (Fay-tay-rah) 36
Fialho (Fee-ahl-yoh) 112, 113, 116
Figueira (village and beach, Fee-gay-rah) 19, 65, 66-67, 69
Foia (mountain, Foy-ah) 23, 25, 72-3, 74-5, 76, 77
Fonte (Foia road, Fohn-teh) 70, 72-73
de Benémola (deh Ben-nay-moh-lah) 13, 28-29
Fonte (cont’d)
Grande (in Alte) 11, 31, 96-97

Gomes Aires (Goh-mesh Ay-resh) 39
Guilhim (mountain and village, Gee-lim) 112, 113, 114-115

Hortas de Tabual (Hor-tash day Tah-boo-ahl) 66-67

Ilha do Rosário (Eel-yah doh Roh-sah-ree-oh) 80, 84-85
Ingrina, Praia da (Pry-ah dah Een-gree-nah) 13, 19, 65, 66-67, 68

Lagoa (Lah-go-ah) 18, 23, 129
Lagos (Lah-gohs) 18, 19, 25, 53, 54-55, 57, 129
Loulé (Low-lay) 30
Luz (Loose) 9, 19, 53, 54-55, 58, 60-61, 129
Luz de Tavira (Loose day Tah-vee-rah) 33

Madrinha (Meh-dreen-yah) 66, 67, 72-3
Malhada do Peres (Mehl-ya(Phonetic pronunciation is shown in parentheses)
Individual island names appear in capitals, with index (for that island) following in alphabetical order

CORVO (korvoh) 19, 121, 132-133, 133
Caldeirão (kaldayraungh) 132, 133
Vila Nova (veela nova) 132

FAIAL (fyal) 1, 18, 42-45, 115-120
Alto da Cruz 115, 117, 118
Cabeço do Trinta 118-119, 120
Cabeço Gordo 118-119, 120
Caldeira (kaldayra) 42, 44, 118-119, 119, 120
Capelo (kapeloh) 42, 118-119, 120
Castelo Branco (kahshtayloh brankoh) 42
Cruzeiro (kruzayroh) 42, 118-119, 120
Fajã (fashaoungh) 42, 43
Flamengos (flamengoosh) 42, 45
Horta (orta) 25, 42, 45, 115, 116, 117, 134
town plan 43
Jardim Botânico (Quinta de São Lourenço) (jardeengh bohtanikoh) 42, 45
Miradouro dos Cedros 44
Norte Pequeno (nort paykaynoh) 42, 43, 118-119
Parque Florestal do Capelo (parkay floreshtal do kapeloh) 118-119, 120
Ponta dos Capelinhos (ponta dohs kapayleenyoosh) 42
Porto Pim (portoh pengh) 43, 117
Praia (prya)
da Ribeira das Cabras 45
do Almoxarife (doh almohsharif) 25, 115, 117, 118, 134
do Norte (doh nort) 42, 44

Ribeira Funda (reebayra foonda) 44
Varadouro (varadoroh) 42
Vulcão dos Capelinhos (voolkaoungh dohs kapayleenyoosh) 44

FLORES (floraysh) 19, 121-131, 125, 133
Caldeira (kaldayra) 127, 128
Cedros (saydrosh) 121, 122
Fajã de Lopo Vaz (fashaoungh day lopoh vaash) 124, 125
Fajã Grande (fashaoungh grandeh) 126, 128, 129, 130-1
Fajãzinha (fashaounghseenya) 126, 128
Fazenda (fasenda) 122
Fora da Rocha (fohra dah rosha) 129, 130-131
Ladeira do Portal 127, 128
Lagoa (lagoah) 122
Lajedo (lajaydoh) 126, 128
Lajes (lahjaysh) 124, 125
Miradouro da Fajãzinha 127, 128
Monte (monteh) 122
Mosteiro (mostayroh) 126, 128
Parque (parkeh)
de Lazer (day Lahzair) 124, 125
Florestal da Fazenda (floraystal dah fahzaynda) 121, 122, 123
Ponta da Fajã 129, 130-131
Ponta Delgada (ponta delgahda) 129, 130-131
Ponta Ruiva (ponta rooeeva) 121, 122
Porto (portoh)
da Fajã Grande 126, 128
da Lagoa 121, 122
das Lajes 124, 125

Ribeira das Casas 18, 21, 129
Rocha dos Bordões 125, 128
Santa Cruz (santa kroosh) 121, 122, 123

GRACIOSA (graseeohsa) 16, 85-92, 88
Almas 86-87, 91
Beira-Mar 86-87, 91, 92
Caldeira (kaldayra) 24, 86-87, 89, 90
Caldeirinha 85, 86-87
Canada Longa (kanada longa) 86-87, 89, 90, 134
Canada Velha 85, 86-87
Carapacho (karapashoh) 24, 86-87, 134
Fajã 86-87, 91
Furna (foorna)
do Abel (doh abel) 86-87, 90
do Enxofre (doh enscoohfre) 86-87, 89, 90

Maria Encantada 86-87, 89, 90
Guadalupe 86-87, 91, 134
Lagoa (lagoa) 84, 85, 86-87, 88
Limeira 86-87, 92
Luz (loosh) 24, 86-87, 89, 90, 91, 92, 134
Manuel Gaspar 85, 86-87
Monte d’Ajuda (monte daschooda) 24
Praia (prya) 85, 86-87, 88, 134
Ribeirinha (reebayreenyah) 85, 86-87, 134
Santa Cruz (santa kroosh) 20, 134
Serra Branca 85, 86-87
Serra das Fontes 86-87
Termas do Carapacho (termahs doh karapaschoh) 24, 86-87

PICO (peekoh) 1, 17, 22, 24, 108-114, 114
Furna (foorna) 113, 114
de Frei Matias (day fray mateeash) 108-109
Lajes (lajaysh) 88
Madalena (madalayna) 25, 108-109, 13
Pico Grande 112, 113, 114
Piquino 113
Quinta das Rosas (keenta dahsh rosahsh) 25, 108-109, 110-111

SANTA MARIA (santa mareea) 15, 65-76, 71
Baia (baheeah)
da Praia (da prya) 23, 66-67
do São Lourenço (doh saoungh lohrensoh) 23, 66-67, 72

Barreiro Faneco 65, 66-67
Calheta (kalyayta) 66-67, 73, 74
Chã de João Tomé 65, 66-67, 68
Cruz (kroosh) 66-67, 73, 74
de São Mor 66-67, 75
dos Picos (dohsh peekosh) 69, 73, 74

Feteiras de Baixo (fetayrahsh day byshoh) 66-67, 134
Fonte do Jordão 66-67, 73, 74
Fornos de Baixo (fornohsh day byshoh) 66-67, 71, 72
Fornos de Cima (fornohsh day seema) 66-67, 75, 76
Glória (gloreea) 66-67, 73, 74
Lagoinhas 134
Lagos (lagoosh) 66-67, 69
Lapa de Cima 66-67
Malbusca (malbooska) 66-67, 75, 76
Norte (nort) 66-67, 69, 70
Parque Florestal (parke floreshtal)
da Mata do Alto 65, 66-67, 68
das Fontinhas 23, 66-67, 75, 76

Paul de Baixo (paool day byesho) 65, 66-67, 68
Paul de Cima (paool day seema) 65, 66-67
Pico Alto 65, 66-67, 71, 73
Picos 134
Ribeira do Engenho 65, 66-67, 68, 134
Ribeira do Salto 66-67, 72, 75
Ribeira Grande (reebayra granday) 66-67
Santa Bárbara (santa barbara) 66-67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 134
Santo Espírito (sant schpeereetoh) 23, 66-67, 73, 74, 134
São Pedro (saoungh paydro) 134
Terras do Raposo 66-67, 74
Vila do Porto (veela doh porto) 134

SÃO JORGE (saoungh shorsh) 16, 22, 24, 93-107
Beira 98-99
Caldeira de Cima (kaldayra day seema) 17, 102, 103
Calheta (kalyayta) 134
Fajã (fashaoungh)
da Caldeira de Santo Cristo 102, 104
de Além 105, 106-107
de São João 105, 106-107
do Belo 102, 104
do João Dias 94-95, 96
do Ouvidor (doh ooveedohr) 100-101
dos Cubres (dohsh koobresh) 102, 104
dos Tijolos (dohsh teeshoolohsh) 102

Farol de Rosais 94-95
Loural (loorahl) 105, 106-107
Manadas (manahdas) 105
Morro Grande 25
Norte Grande (nort grandeh) 100-101
Parque Sete Fontes (park set fontsh) 22, 25, 93, 94-95
Pico (peekoh)
da Esperança 100, 100-101
das Caldeirinhas (dahsh kaldayreenyahsh) 97, 98-9, 100-101

Ponta de Rosais (ponta day rozyesh) 25, 93, 94-95, 134
Portal do Cedro 97, 98-99
Rosais (rozysh) 94-95, 134
Santo António (santoh antonyoh) 97, 98-99, 100-101, 134
São Tomé (saoungh tohmay) 105, 106-107
Serra do Topo (sehra doh tohpoh) 102, 105, 106-107
Velas (vaylaash) 25, 97, 98-99, 99, 134

SÃO MIGUEL (saoungh meegell) 2, 13, 27-37, 50-64
Água de Alto (ahgwa day ahltoh) 59, 61
Caldeira (kaldayra)
das Sete Cidades (daash set seedadaysh) 26, 27, 28, 47, 52-53, 57, 58
Velha 32, 33
Caldeiras
(at Lagoa das Furnas) 22, 35, 62, 63
da Ribeira Grande (da reebayra grand) 22, 23, 32, 33
das Furnas (daash foornaash) 34, 37, 62, 63, 64

Capelas (kapehlaash) 27, 31, 134
Cerrado das Freiras 21, 29
Covoada (kovoahda) 27
Fajã (fashaoungh) day
de Baixo (day byshoh) 27, 31
de Cima (day seema) 27, 31

Fazendas (fasendaash) 52-53, 54
Furnas (foornaash) 22, 32, 34, 36, 37, 62, 64, 134
Ginetes (scheenetsh) 50, 52-53, 54
Gorreana (goreeahna) 32, 34, 36, 37
Hotel Bahia Palace 59, 61
João Bom (jwoungh bo) 30, 50, 52-53, 55, 56, 57, 134
Lagoa (lagoah; lake)
Azul (azool) 21, 28, 52-53, 56, 58, cover
das Furnas (dahsh foornaash) 22, 62, 63
de Canário 27, 28
do Fogo (doh fohgoh) 22, 32, 33, 59, 60, 61

Verde (verd) 21, 28, 52-53, 55, 56, cover
Lagoa (village) 32, 134
Lagoas Empadas 27
Lomba Grande 51, 52-53
Mato dos Lagos 59, 61
Miradouro (meeradohroh )
da Caloura 35
da Lagoa de Santiago 28
da Vista dos Barcos 36
de Algarvia 36
de Santa Iria34
de Santo António 31
do Carvão 27
do Cerrado das Freiras 28
do Pico do Ferro 34
do Pico Longo 37
do Por do Sol 37

Pico do Paul 27
Ponta da Madruga 37
Salto da Farinha 36
Ponta do Sossego 36
Sra da Paz (seenyohra da paash) 34, 35
Mosteiros (mohshtayroosh) 21, 27, 29, 50, 51, 52-53, 55, 134
Nordeste (nordesteh) 36
Parque Terra Nostra (park tera nostra) 32, 35, 62, 63, 64
Pico (peekoh)
da Barrosa 32
das Camarinhas 26, 51, 52-53
do Carvão 27

Pilar (peelaar) 30
Ponta (ponta)
da Ferraria 26, 50, 52-53
do Escalvado 29, 50, 51, 52-53, 54
dos Mosteiros 21

Ponta Delgada (ponta delgada) 14, 27, 31, 32, 35, 134
town plan 28-29
Povoação (povoasaoungh) 36, 37, 134
Praia (prya)
Água de Alto 35, 59, 61
do Pópulo 21, 32
Rabo do Asno (raboh doh ahsnoh) 50, 52-53, 54
Relva (relva) 27, 134
Remédios (remaydiosh) 27, 31, 57, 58
Ribeira da Praia 59, 60, 61
Ribeira dos Caldeirões 36
Ribeira Grande (reebayra grandeh) 22, 32, 33, 134
Santa Bárbara 57
São Roque (saoungh rok) 21, 32
Serra da Tronqueira 36
Sete Cidades (set seedadesh) 21, 27, 28, 29, 52-53, 55, 134
Socorro (sokoroh) 52-53, 54
Várzea (varsaya) 27, 29, 134
Vila Franca do Campo (veela franka doh kampoh) 32, 34, 35, 134
Vista do Rei (vishta doh ray) 27, 28, 52-53, 55, 56, cover
Volta do Salto 21, 29

TERCEIRA (tersayra) 15, 38-41, 77-84, 114
Agualva (agwalva) 38, 41
Algar do Carvão (alshar doh karvaoungh) 38, 40
Angra do Heroísmo (angra doh eroeeshmoh) 23, 38, 40-41, 77, 78-80, 81, 134
town plan 78-79
Biscoitos (bishkoytsch) 38, 41, 134
Cinco Ribeiras (seenkoh reebayrahsh) 38
Doze Ribeiras (dose reebayrahsh) 38
Furnas do Enxofre (foornaash doh enshoofre) 38, 39
Lagoa do Negro 40
Mata da Serreta (mata da serayta) 24, 82, 83
Miradouro do Raminho 82, 83
Monte Brasil (monte brasil) 23, 38, 78-79
Pico (peekoh)
das Cruzinhas 23, 78-79
de Altares 38, 40

Ponta do Raminho 82
Porto de Pesca 40
Quatro Ribeiras (kwatroh reebayrahsh) 41
Santa Bárbara (santa barbara) 38
São Bartolomeu (saoungh bartolomayoh) 38
São Mateus (saoungh matayoosh) 38
Serra (sera)
de Santa Bárbara 38, 39
do Cume 38, 41

Serreta (serehta) 24, 82, 83, 84

Current update

AZORES: WALKS AND CAR TOURS, 7th edition (2015), updated 13/08/2015

Updates for walks and car tours (drives) given below supplement those provided in the guidebook. It is vital that this Update is read in conjunction with the text of the book, but note that the Update applies only to the edition stated and not to any earlier editions. (If you have an older edition of this book you can “upgrade” to the latest edition at half price.)

Information has been forwarded to us by users of the book, and Sunflower Books offers the data in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any misleading or inaccurate content in the Update. Unless indicated otherwise, what appears here has not been verified by the author or publisher, so please allow due caution when new or amended routes are suggested. Each piece of information is dated; bear in mind that some of the older observations may have since been overtaken by events or further changes. If, during your holiday, you are using the current edition of the guide and are able to provide any additional updating to add to this page, we will be pleased to hear from you. Please send information, preferably by e-mail, to info@sunflowerbooks.co.uk.

AZORES TOURIST OFFICE: The website is now www.visitazores.com

Sao Miguel, general: Unfortunately, we arrived on the island at the same time as the European Rally – Saturday 30th May. Although the rally proper didn’t start until the following Friday, there were road closures in Ponta Delgada on the preceding Wednesday and various practice runs including on the Caldeira das Sete Cidades. The Caldeira was the scene of the 1st day’s racing and many roads were closed including the main road to Ginetes. Probably due to this, Lagoa da Fogo was rather busy with 2 very large walking groups (22&30+, 2 groups of about 10 and dozens of individual hikers. Apparently, the rally visits the island every year, so unless noise, pollution and clouds of dust are your thing, it would be a good idea to make sure your dates don’t clash. (User, 6/15) [Author comment: The rally usually takes place during the first half of June, the exact dates change from year to year. I agree it should get a mention.The rally only takes places on S. Miguel and only the walks around the Caldeira das Sete Cidades are usually affected.]

Walk 6 (Santa Maria 1): The bus shelter at Paul de Baixo, which no longer has a village sign, is at the road junction and seemed eminently unsuitable as a parking place. We parked in Paul de Cima on the route of the walk just before the recycling bins and being careful not to impede the turning circle. On the route of the main walk, it’s all tarmac until you reach Casa das Fazendas shortly before the desert at about 22 mins. The detour to the whaling lookout is highly recommended. The ruin passed at 40 mins. has had its roof renewed and there are the first spectacular views down the cliff to the sea here. The track is clear all the way at the moment up to the signed turn-off, where there is not even the vestige of a path. We didn’t actually take the exact direction indicated, although that would have worked as well. We actually took a flatter easier line to the left along the wall to begin with and only started climbing in earnest once we had reached the wall corner where there is a red and white left turn sign, where we turned right. After a few minutes the lookout was visible. The best views are obtained some 100 metres before and after the building, which is in a dangerous state of repair. It’s worth continuing along the wall slightly above the lookout until you spot the ruin below on the saddle at the top of a very steep incline. (User, 6/15)

Walk 7 (Santa Maria 2): The walk described is perfectly comfortable and pleasant, but it avoids what would be amongst the highlights of any serious walker’s stay on the island. Sao Lourenco, probably the most picturesque spot on Santa Maria, is mentioned in the text as not being visible from the road. But there is a marked and relatively easy path down to it from the road; there is even a miradouro less than 2 minutes from the road ! I didn’t time our descent and ascent, but it can’t have taken more than an hour. A short distance further along the road, there is a 600 metre long waymarked path to an even better vantage point; this miradouro is actually marked on the Sunflower map, although it isn’t mentioned in the text. Just a moment, I’ve missed out 2 further features, inexplicably absent from the walk, although they’re not in the same league as those already mentioned. One is called Pico Vermelho, a 5 minute diversion from the official PRC3SMA, which affords a 360 degree panorama from its wooden watchtower. Then there’s Poco da Pedreira, the quarry at its foot, now a pond and picnic area. (User, 8/15)  

Walk 9 (Santa Maria 4): There is ample parking near the church, where a board displays details of the official walk from Santo Espirito to the whaling factory south of Maia, estimated time 3 hours. We only walked to Maia and back. When you reach the road in Maia, a signpost indicates Foz da Ribeira do Aveira 300 metres to the left. This is the must see place of the walk : a pool at the foot of sheer 200-metre high cliffs. It must be amazing after rain, but even with a fairly small flow in the waterfall, it was still spectacular. This isn’t mentioned in the alternative walk details, which only advises going down to the coast, where the fisherfolk hang out. (User, 6/15) + An alternative suggestion by car: We really wanted to walk a circular route via Maia, but without having to undertake the cliff-edge section in both directions (per the longer extension), so we started out from Maia instead, parking on the seafront. We headed south, then followed the waymarkers for the “official” PR4SMA to take us up the cliff-edge west out of Maia, via a super but “hairy” short-cut climb through the vineyards, and headed south again along the main road. At the point where the trail markers send you down again (another possible diversion) towards Ponta Castelo with Gonçalo Velho lighthouse and an old ruined whaling station, we veered right, keeping along the main road until, heading north, we met a turning left up a small metalled road to Vigia. This is dirt track in places and goes through lovely quiet countryside. Ignore turnings off, particularly left, where there are a few street lamps, towards Cardal, and carry on through to Fonte do Jordão, where you meet the main road again (this is the 1hr 35min mark on Walk 9). You can then either continue from here on Walk 9, or go in the opposite direction, following the route backwards, either way to Santo Espirito. From there, follow Walk 9 from its official start until the 50min mark (Lapa de Baixo), where the longer extension (or similar PR4SMA) descends back down to Maia. Note: this route down was quite badly eroded and some real care was needed when we walked it. It should also be mentioned that it is also quite vertiginous in several places and for some distance – although the views are spectacular. Upon meeting the seafront road, it is worth turning left to see the full height of the Ribeiro do Aveiro waterfall, before returning right to the car. (User, 9/13)

Walk 16 (Sao Jorge 1): The track used for most of the outward leg is very popular with hire cars , which makes walking it seem a bit of a waste of effort. Shortly before the lighthouse, there is a sign to the restored whaling lookout (Miradouro Vigia do Baleia), from where you can see Pico, Faial & Graciosa, weather permitting. It’s a moot point whether the highlight of the walk (the spectacular coastal view plus conical stack with arch) is now off limits. Certainly, the turning circle referred to in the notes has been barred to vehicles by an enormous boulder and there are warnings of danger and access prohibited at this point. Soon after the 2Hr55min point, the sharp left turn is now asphalted at the outset; it’s called Canada do Miradouro. Only a few vehicles were encountered on the return leg, but overall we didn’t feel the walk merited inclusion, particularly as  there are several better walks on the island and on Faial for that matter, eg circuit to Praia da Norte, Capelo to Capelinos. (User, 6/15) [Author comment: Only the access road (it is an unsurfaced track, white on the map) to the lighthouse is popular with hire cars (so between the 45min-point and the lighthouse and back to the turn-off at about 1h07min), but certainly not most of the outward leg.]

Walk 17 (Sao Jorge 2): Unsatisfied by Walk 16, we resolved to fit this one in as well, although it was getting on to 4 o’clock. We found safe parking on the grass verge close to the track. At 15 mins, we were surprised to see about a dozen vehicles (mainly pick-up trucks) parked at the end of the track. The iron gate is currently blue and the initial view at the start of the path is the best of the walk. Horses have replaced mules as the preferred form of transport for the locals, of whom we met 4 on the way down. The faja is very neat and tidy and thriving with all cottages in good repair, many tended plots, the little chapel freshly painted and even a toilet block with separate loos for men and women. (User, 6/15) [Author comment:  These pick-ups belong to the locals who are visiting their summer houses down on the Faja. Of course they drive as far as they can, certainly on any track.]

Walk 20 (Sao Jorge 5): After the thoroughly enjoyable visit to Faja do Joao Dias, our expectations for this walk were unrealistically high, no doubt. We started walking along the asphalted road from Faja do Cubres, but when I realised there was ample parking at the start of the track, I nipped back for the car. At the start of the track, we read this notice with dismay : restrictions on motorised vehicles from May 1st to September 30th : not permitted 0900-1100, 1500-1700, 1900-2100. However, like any unenforced regulation, in practice this means that you will have to suffer the infernal invention known as the quad bike at fairly frequent intervals. Prize for biggest stinker went to the guy encountered at about 1600, who had 4 passengers and a trailer with 3 trussed goats (ready for slaughter?). Apart from the noise and noxious fumes, it was the clouds of dust that really got up my nose. Santo Cristo is a very pretty faja, but it was also pretty noisy at the time of our visit with a generator, cement mixer and at least 2 drills punctuated by the comings and goings of the quad bike taxis, which cater for non-walking tourists as well as locals and loads. It was a relief to get on the track out of town and up to the calm of Caldeira de Cima and the waterfall. (User, 6/15) [Author comment: It’s a linear walk, so if the walk is done as described, one does not have the option of parking as described. The user missed the best part of the walk, which is the initial leg from Serra do Topo down to the waterfall. If he had done the whole walk, he would have enjoyed it much more. Otherwise I totally agree with his comments – the locals (like all Mediterraneans) are notoriously ignorant when it comes to respecting traffic restrictions. In their eyes, quads are one of the greatest inventions known to man. Quads have become popular on some of the trails over the last couple of years, causing destruction of the century-old pavement. Noise, fumes, dust … yes, quads are extremely annoying, especially on this walk. I still regard it as one of the best in the Azores but readers should be warned.]

Walk 24 (Faial 1) : Last Sunday we set off to do some of this walk in reverse, as we were staying near Praia do Almoxarife. When we got to Pilar, we diverted from the route and made our way back to our start point. On Monday, we took the ferry to Pico and did Walk 22. On Tuesday, we went to pick up our hire car from Horta port and attempted to do the whole of walk 24 in reverse. However, when we got to the turn off the Pedro Miguel road onto the track lined with Spanish reeds, we soon found our way blocked by dozens of reeds, which had been deliberately bent over to prevent access. So we walked up to PM village and then up to the main round the island road to regain the route, but walking on this isn’t much fun. (User, 6/15) [Author comment: I can only assume the “reed track” was blocked off straight away after his first visit. Maybe it was just a coincidence but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were done deliberately.]

Walk 25 (Faial 2): I don’t understand why the complete circuit of the caldeira is not featured. On a half way reasonable day this makes for easily the best walk on the island. The path is now very well defined and there is
little feeling of exposure. We combined the levada/track section in reverse with this, using the road from the transmitters to reach the levada end. (User, 6/15) [Author comment: The complete circuit of the Caldeira wasn’t possible for many years as the rim had become unstable in places after the last earthquake. It has now been reopened officially and I would certainly agree it should be included. The path isn’t way marked but is well defined. For the circuit, keep following the path around the Caldeira, until you come back to the starting point. The circuit takes about 2h30min; distance 8km. Note: The Caldeira is often shrouded in mist.]

Flores general: We are currently on Flores, where we’ve just had our best day so far. Poco da Alagoinha is not to be missed : the most impressive site we’ve visited here and the 2nd best in the Azores after Caldeira das Sete Cidades that we’ve seen. (User, 6/15) [Author comment: I wouldn’t rate it quite so highly, but it is certainly worth visiting.]

Walk 28 (Flores 3): The alternative route noted in the text between Fajazinha and Faja Grande is currently part of the officially waymarked PRFLO2; the distance stated on the sign is 7 km, which seems like an exaggeration… When you reach the main road it is worth visiting the (working for demonstration purposes) water mill diagonally opposite. Between the road bridges over Ribeiro Grande and Ribeiro do Ferreiro is a metal sign to Poco da Alagoinha – 800 metres. A waymarked track at times paved with large flattish rocks leads uphill and in the latter stages is accompanied by a gushing levada. I was hoping we would get a better view of the waterfalls from the little lake, but the reality was far better than expected.  (User, 6/15) [Author comment: I’ll certainly include this detour in the next edition.]

Walk 30 (Corvo): There seemed to be just 2 options available when we arrived in Santa Cruz port this morning : the Atlantico line ferry, which normally must be booked in advance and the more adventurous open dinghy service, which gets up close to the spectacular north-east coast of Flores, including dodging between stacks and entering a sea cave. Price of both is 30 euros per person return. Those taking the Atlantico ferry set off at 9:30 and headed straight for Corvo, where there was no minibus waiting for them ! We set off after 10 and when we eventually hit the open sea, I got drenched, but then I had managed to select the worst possible place to sit. After an interminable white knuckle roller coaster ride in the heavy swell, we arrived in Vila Nova to find a minibus waiting, still 5 euros to the caldeirao. We passed the 3 Atlantico walkers before long and at the end of the road, most of the passengers, deterred by a cold wind, went back down after taking a few snaps. 3 people headed for the mast, but we headed down into the caldeira on the official route PRC2COR. The estimated time for the complete walk : down, around 2 lakes and back up is 2.5 hours, but we had less than 3 hours to be back at the boat, so a little improvisation had to be employed. We were soon rewarded by sunshine and after a very brisk hike around the nearest lake and back up, I’d managed to dry out my underpants. We sauntered back down to the port in high spirits and bright sunshine with 20 minutes to spare. On the way back to Flores the sea was relatively calm and we took a more direct route, stopping only when we encountered a small pod of dolphins : delightful as always. (User, 6/15)