A hiking holiday in the Azores rewards with postcard vistas of mountains and sea, lush, almost Jurassic forests.
THE FEBRUARY CHILL of the Azores mountains vanished as we started ascending the rim of the dormant Furnas volcano. Sweat drained out of our pores. We could feel our own breath, hear our hearts beat. We slowed down. The silence of the walk gave to meditation amidst the lush foliage of the subtropical cloud forest.
A hiking holiday in the Azores rewards with postcard vistas of mountains and sea, lush, almost Jurassic forests full of ferns and mosses, and the omnipresent feeling that you really are somewhere special. Exploring the Azores islands through hiking is easy. São Miguel, the main island, is criss-crossed with hiking trails offering paths to secret beaches, waterfalls and mountaintops.
In the Furnas area, hiking trails lead to a well-deserved soak in volcanic thermal waters. In Maia, it can mean a soak in the ocean mid-hike and at Salto do Cabrito you can jump into a deep pond at the bottom of a picturesque waterfall.
WHEN TO GO The best times to hit the trails is in the off-season, between October and May. December and January may be a bit rainy / muddy. February to May are amazing, as are October and generally November. Keep in mind weather in the Azores is so dynamic and you're coming here for the nature, not the weather. More on that on our earlier post: "Top Three Questions on the Azores".
WHERE TO HIKE There are official trails listed on Trails Azores which has great trail info and maintains the trails regularly. Each conselho (municipality) has it's own municipal trail, which we often lead hikes on to avoid the beaten path in busier times.
WHAT TO KNOW Trails are as dynamic as the island, some over mountains and volcanic crater rims, some through old irrigation and hydropower routes. You can't just do one. Many of the trails are full of edible and exotic plants. Some are native or endemic but there are also many invasive species with our lush climate.