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Merely the very tips of gigantic underwater mountains, each of the Azores’ nine islands are unique, beautiful and brimming with hiking possibilities. Walks in the Azores are simply wonderful. You will never tire of exploring this paradisiacal landscape of vast crater lakes, staggering sea cliffs, giant volcanoes and astonishing flora.
Hikes in the Azores explore a young, dynamic and volcanic land. Experience the traverse of huge, verdant volcanic calderas that cup gorgeous, shimmering lakes. Discover remarkably diverse landscapes, from humid laurel forests and green pastures to startling red deserts and barren igneous moonscapes.
It is a hiker’s dream. Ancient, rugged paths boasting astonishing scenery are everywhere. Water dominates this lush land. Towering waterfalls cascade from vertical cliffs; waves crash against magnificent rock formations. You are never far from the dramatic basalt shoreline or a beguiling grassy path to the heavens.
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Thrust above the junction of the Eurasian, African and North American tectonic plates, the Azores is an infant archipelago formed over the last eight million years. Stretching 850 miles (1,360 km) across the Atlantic from Santa Maria in the east to Flores in the west, each island has its own special character and charm.
São Miguel is the largest island and many of the best hiking trails in the Azores are found here. Discover trails along the rim of green-carpeted calderas that cup turquoise lakes or set out on a coastal adventure to black basalt headlands and towering, forest-topped cliffs. Wherever you roam, São Miguel’s extravagant flora is sure to delight.
Santa Maria is the oldest island in the chain. Experience the shifting hues of the scarlet clays and pyroclastic rocks of Barriero de Faneca, a semi-desert landscape that is sure to enthral. Santa Maria’s coast boasts intriguing cliffs with wonderful columnar igneous formations.
Faial’s spectacular volcanic cone, Caldeira, is a majestic sight, bursting with fascinating flora. Rising (sometimes vertically) from the Atlantic, the long volcanic ridge of São Jorge is hiking perfection, with awe-inspiring ocean views from its trails. Cliffs plunge to flat and fertile lava fields known as fajãs, synonymous with the Azores and São Jorge in particular.
The most strenuous hikes in the Azores are those to the summit of Mount Pico, which at 7,713 feet (2,351 m) is the highest peak in Portugal. Routes on Graciosa are green and peaceful with compelling hillwalking, whilst Terceira is the place to go for a walk in the native laurel forests.
In the far west, tiny Corvo is dominated by Caldirao, a 984-foot (300 m) deep elliptical crater. Nearby Flores is a forgotten paradise of hydrangeas, glistening lakes and sparkling seas. You might even be lucky enough to spot a whale or dolphin off its nutrient-rich shores.
With one of Europe’s mildest winters but summers that remain warm rather than hot, walks in the Azores’ subtropical climate are gorgeous all year round. Rainfall is common and increases markedly from east to west.
To get between the islands you have the option of hopping on a turboprop plane or riding the waves on a ferry. Each island has an airfield, whilst the main airports are on São Miguel, Santa Maria, Faial and Terceira.
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