NEW! Azores - Aug
A lovely blend of birds, whales, plants and geology amidst incredible coastal scenery.
NEW! Azores - Aug
The spectacular Azores stretch across the Atlantic almost a thousand miles from the coast of Europe. The climate is mild, the surrounding seas are warm, and the islands shelve steeply into the sea, a combination which makes this one of the best places in the worlds for whale and dolphin watching. The breeding birds include Cory’s Shearwater, Roseate Tern and, of course, the endemic Priôlo or Azores Bullfinch, together with the island races of Buzzard, Chaffinch and Goldcrest. The flora of the islands is very interesting with perhaps 60 endemic species of plant.
We stay on three of the islands, and take two sea trips to watch cetaceans. At this time we hope to see Sperm Whales, perhaps with calves, as well as several dolphin species including Spotted, Common and Risso’s, Beaked Whales and perhaps other marine-life such as flying fish, turtles and sharks. At sea we sometimes encounter Great Shearwater and Bulwer’s Petrel.
The geology of the archipelago provides some of the most dramatic coastal scenery to be found anywhere in the world. Overwhelmingly volcanic, the bedrock provides the habitat for the islands’ wildlife and we’ll explore the uplands of Sao Miguel island searching for the Azores Bullfinch, visit hot springs and fumaroles, walk around a wonderful caldera to find endemic plants, stroll around cliffs for shearwaters and terns and learn about the vigorous geology of the archipelago.
A non-intensive wildlife experience on attractive and unspoilt Atlantic islands, combining a relaxed atmosphere with very interesting natural history and geology.
Day One Sat 24 August
We fly from London to Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel, our base for the next two nights. Our hotel is near some hot springs and geothermal areas and we shall explore this area. We should see our first ‘Azores’ Buzzards as well. Overnight at Furnas on Sao Miguel island
Day Two Sun 25 August
We explore the north eastern part of the island and search for the Azores Bullfinch, one of the world’s rarest birds. We visit magnificent upland country and learn about the measures underway to protect this threatened endemic species, which is confined to a small area in the mountains of eastern Sao Miguel. We’ll walk forest trails in search of this species. We'll also visit the coasts of Sao Miguel.
Overnight at Furnas on Sao Miguel island
Day Three Mon 26 August
We take a morning flight to the island of Pico which will be our base for the next three nights. We stay on the south coast, and we’ll see the Cory’s Shearwaters that will become so familiar to us in the days ahead. Our guesthouse is in a coastal settlement and we often see cetaceans offshore. We’ll take a coastal walk in the area. Overnight at Lajes on Pico Island
Day Four Tues 27 August
We take the first of our whale watching trips this morning using rigid hulled inflatable boats. We have a high chance of encountering Sperm Whale, Risso’s, Common and Spotted Dolphins. The Azores provides some of the best whale watching in the world and on our trips we’ll also look out for seabirds, turtles and sharks. In the afternoon we’ll stroll along the coast and look out for migrant waders including some occasional American rarities. We’ll also do some land based whale watching. Overnight at Lajes on Pico Island
Day Five Wed 28 August
We'll spend the morning strolling along the cliffs west of Lajes looking for whales and dolphins offshore. We hope to find Quail and Buzzard here as well. The botany of the area is interesting and the views are exceptional. In the afternoon we take our second whale watch boat trip. We'll also find time to visit the Lajes whale museum. Overnight at Lajes on Pico Island
Day Six Thurs 29 August
â€¨We cross to the neighbouring island of Faial and we should get good views of Cory’s Shearwater on the way. This crossing often produces some dolphins, too. We visit the enormous caldera in the centre of the island and will no doubt find some of the islands’ endemic plants here. Later we will look out for Roseate Terns near the eruption site of Capelhinos. The volcano erupted in 1957 and the raw landscape tells us a great deal about the geology of the island. Overnight at Horta on Faial Island
Day Seven Fri 30 August
We fly to Sao Miguel in the morning and have a chance to explore the island’s capital, Ponta Delgada. Later we shall visit the dramatic crater of Sete Cidades. We’ll see the Azores subspecies of Common Buzzard here. Botanists will enjoy finding several of the Azores endemic plant species including some tree heathers. The crater lakes are stunningly beautiful and provide a splendid finale for our trip. Overnight at Ponta Delgada on SaÌƒo Miguel Island
Day Eight Sat 31 August
We transfer to the airport to catch our return flight to London.
The holiday includes: accommodation in tourist class hotels in rooms with private facilities. All meals (café or picnic lunches and evening meals from the dish of the day), transportation (by island taxi or minibus and ferry) and the services of your Heatherlea Leader, Andy Jones.
The boat trips can last up to three hours and there is a very high chance of seeing whales. We use sit astride rigid-hulled inflatable boats.
Walking is easy but sometimes over rough ground. Temperatures in August should be around 25°C and humidity may be high in coastal areas. The weather is likely to be sunny but wind and rain are always a possibility on the islands.
There are no specific health requirements. The Azores are a self governing dependency within Portugal and are consequently part of the EU regarding health provision.
Leader Andy Jones.
Andy leads our trips in Iceland and the Faroes and has taken groups of birdwatchers, geologists, whale-watchers and botanists to the Azores for almost twenty years. His all round knowledge of the islands' natural history is highly regarded by travellers.