Austin Adventures Goes Island-Hopping To Explore Vestigial Volcanoes In Verdant Azores Archipelago

Story by Austin Adventures

Posted: February 19, 2019
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An innovative offering from Austin Adventures invites guests to take a deep dip into one of adventure travel’s newest destinations, the Azores. Here, where warm salt air surrounds exotic foliage and vineyards that thrive in volcanic soils, guests will spend a night on a volcano summit with stars sprinkled above sparkling islands below; contemplate Nature’s power inside a crater lagoon; enjoy a private soak in naturally iron-rich hot springs; and sip local wines while cozido (stew) bubbles in a volcanic oven. 

Austin Adventures is betting that its clients will thrive here while hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, biking and swimming in the mellow, ambient climate of Portugal’s Azores. 

Portugal: Active Azores is a new-for-2019, nine-day exploration of the nine-island archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, just four hours by plane from North America and two hours from Europe. Confirmed departure dates in 2019 are May 11-May 19 and Sept. 7-Sept. 15. The per person double rate is from $4,298 ($980 single supplement). See: www.austinadventures.com/packages/portugal-active-azores/

“An authentic destination like the Azores is a rare bird in today’s world of sometimes-overvisited destinations,” says company founder and president Dan Austin. “We like the fact that direct flights make this destination easy to access and that we can move easily from island to island in search of the best experiences.” 

“Today safety is a consideration,” adds Austin. “Our research affirms that this is one of the most secure places in the world to travel. Luxuries abound in hotels and restaurants and a rhythm of life balances work, pleasure and traditions. Recent investment made in the archipelago’s tourism infrastructure finally allows this gem to grow sustainably and position itself among the top European destinations in terms of active adventure.” 

In the 15th century people fleeing the Portuguese (Spanish) inquisition began settling these islands that today are protected (as is Madeira) by Portugal. The accommodations selected for this itinerary help to tell the archipelago’s cultural and botanical history:

  • Pousada Forte da Horta is a 16th century fort and a National Monument.
  • Hotel do Colégio in the historical center of the capital city, Ponta Delgada, exemplifies 19th century Azorean architecture. This style evolved from the riches that came with the golden age of the orange trade with England. The building was once a manor house, then a private school and the first address of Ponta Delgada's Music Conservatory.
  • Cantinho das Buganvílias Resort, just 200 meters from the sea, offers guests a fantastic view of Pico and Faial Islands and an immersion with nature.
  • Terra Nostra Garden Hotel is often considered to be the best hotel in the Azores, having won many international accolades. Located in Furnas Valley, it is nestled in one of the world’s finest “Green Retreats,” as deemed by Condé Nast Traveler. The hotel’s Art Deco interior also introduces contemporary elements and materials, integrating it with their lush Terra Nostra Garden.
  • Casa da Montanha Camp offers 360-degree views of up to five Azorean islands (weather permitting), cool breezes, and an opportunity to ‘digitally detox’ (no Wi-Fi or cell coverage). 

This region owes its verdant nature to minerals spewed by one-time active volcanoes. Craters formed by erupting mountains are lake-filled visions of blue and green. Oceanic pools heated by volcanic vents and natural thermal pools embrace swimmers. 

A richly populated and diverse array of marine wildlife thrives here. Think up to 25 cetacean species along with turtles, seabirds and other marine life. A biologist shares information with guests who later engage in a whale and dolphin watching excursion to spot, among others, sperm whales and common and bottlenose dolphins. 

Tales of whales and sailors are shared by locals along the way, including over lunch at a typical house, and by guides who point out the salt water lagoon where clams thrive and the area where surfers rock what are considered some of the longest wave breaks in Europe. 

Wines and cheeses mingle on visits to vineyards and cheese factories. On one stop at Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas (Furnas Lake Calderas), guests themselves prepare ingredients purchased earlier at a local market and place cooking pots of cozido das Furnas underground for six hours to simmer in geothermal heat. 

The native-born, English-speaking guides who reveal the Azores to their guests are Maria Inês Pavão and Paulo Medeiros. Maria holds a degree in Marine Biology and a Master in Biotechnology and Plant Biodiversity from the University of the Azores in Ponta Delgada. She works as a guide on both land tours and out on the ocean. Her passion is conservation. Paulo has completed studies in tourism at a local college. He enjoys showing the charms of the islands by jeep, on foot and by bicycle. 

Austin Adventures’ 2019 catalog is available upon request. Please order ONLINE or call 1.800.575.1540 or email [email protected]. For a full roster of 2019 trips that is frequently updated beyond the print catalog please visit http://www.austinadventures.com. 

About Austin Adventures

Based in Billings, Montana, Austin Adventures has spent over 35 years building an international reputation as a top provider of luxury, small group, multisport tours for adults and families to the world’s most captivating destinations. Acknowledged twice by Travel + Leisure Magazine with the prestigious World’s Best Awards along with other national media accolades and distinctions, Austin Adventures has perfected the art of creating itineraries featuring exceptional regional dining, distinctive accommodations, incredible guides and exhilarating activities, all while keeping all-inclusive rates and services the norm. In addition to scheduled group departures on all seven continents, Austin Adventures has developed a reputation as the leader in customized trip planning and execution. All backed by the industry’s best money-back satisfaction guarantee.