Azores - Açores
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.
Another scheduled 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.
Climate and Weather
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.