8 days for £2,899 22 May 2021
The Azores are a paradise. Lush vegetation, volcanic craters, lagoons, and picturesque towns are nestled in the rich biodiverse waters of the North Atlantic. Accompanied by a team of marine experts and marine biologust Jon Copley, you will spend time both at sea and on land surrounded by a host of different species. Spot the blue whale, the world’s largest mammal, and the sperm whale, boasting the world’s largest brain. Among others you may also see species such as baleen, pilot, and fin whales, bottlenose, risso, spotted and striped dolphins.
You will spend your days exploring the land and sea, learning about marine life, intelligence and ecosystems through a series of talks, as well as actively take part in whale research, the data of which is used around the world.
In partnership with Intrepid Travel.
DAY 1: ARRIVE SAO MIGUEL AND WELCOME MEETING
Welcome to Azores, nine volcanic islands 1,500km off the coast of Portugal in the North Atlantic. Upon arrival to the airport on Sao Miguel island you will be met and transferred by private vehicle to the four-star Hotel Marina Atlantico in Ponta Delgada. Depending on your arrival time you might have some free time to explore the city to see some of the main sights like the famous Gonçalo Velho Square and Portas da Cidade, the city hall or the Sao Bras fortress. Your tour leader will hold a short welcome meeting in the early evening to go through the plans for the week, then take you for your first dinner with your fellow explorers.
DAY 2: EXPLORE SAO MIGUEL INCLUDING THE SETE CIDARES VOCANIC CRATER AND FURNAS HOT SPRINGS
This morning you will head out for a full day tour of Sao Miguel Island lead by a local guide. At Sete Cidares you will discover Sete Cidares Town, nestled in a 3-mile-wide volcano which is also home to both blue and green crater lakes. After Sete Cidares you will continue to Furnas for lunch where Azoreans cook the famous ‘Cozido das Furnas’, a stew made with vegetables and different kind of meats which takes around 6 hours to be cooked by the volcano steam. You will continue to explore many more areas of the island, including a stop at a tea plantation and various beautiful viewpoints before returning to the hotel for dinner.
DAY 3: TRAVEL TO FAIAL ISLAND AND MEET MARINE BIOLOGIST JON COPLEY
You will then leave Sao Miguel Island behind and catch a domestic flight to Faial Island, which will be your base for the next five nights. After checking in at the four-star Hotel do Canal you will have free time to explore the main city of Horta,
Before dinner, you will be joined by marine biologist Jon Copley who will be accompanying you for the next 3 days. Jon will give an introductory talk on the biodiversity of the Azores and their importance to our global ecosystems, as well as the challenges they face and his experience working with conservation teams around the world.
DAYS 4 AND 5: MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH AT SEA
For the next two days, you will spend the day at sea going behind the scenes with researchers from the University of Lisbon and Azores to spot whales dolphins, turtles and birds. You will learn about global conservation efforts and how data is shared as you help collect and measure microplastics in the ocean as well as acoustic records of the different whales and dolphins in the nearby waters. You will gain an insight into the work critical for our understanding of our impact on the oceans, with the data you collect today forming yet another important piece of the puzzle.
The duration of the expedition will depend on the species location and weather forecast. We are working with a highly pro-active and flexible sea expedition company who will tailor the experience to the prevailing conditions. This might mean that the schedule is arranged on the fly, to ensure you have the best opportunity throughout the tour to see as many species as possible. The end of May however is a fantastic time to see the big migrants in Azores, such as blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales and sperm whales. You should be at sea for between 6 and 7 hours and lunch will served onboard.
In the evenings after dinner, Jon will give two more talks. Firstly, on the current research on the deep sea vents surrounding the Azores. These hydrothermal vents have only been discovered and studied in the last 28 years, and with some organisms surviving purely chemosynthetically and not requiring sunlight for photosynthesis, they are shedding new light on our understanding of life in the oceans. Then on day 5, Jon will talk about about the behavioural ecology of the whale and dolphin species you have encountered over the last few days, including the evolutionary development and evidence of marine intelligence across a host of different species, as well as how other organisms rely on these species for survival.
DAY 6: EXPLORE PICO ISLAND BY DAY AND EXPERIENCE A SEABIRD COLONY AT NIGHT
After a 30-minute ferry ride you will enjoy a full day exploration of Pico Island. Including a vineyard visit and tasting in a UNESCO Protected Landscape, views of lagoons and volcanic cones, and entrance to the Whaler’s Museum.
After dinner back on Faial Island, you will head into a nature reserve with a local biologist. They will take you to an exceptionally large Cory’s Shearwater seabird colony, where you will be able to listen to the vocalizations and distinguish between species and genders. With the breeding season as its peak in May, it will be an unforgettable experience.
DAY 7: CALDEIRA, CAPELINHOS VOLCANO AND AFTERNOON WHALE EXCURSION AT SEA
This morning you will be picked up by private vehicle lead by a local biologist guide to explore Faial with two major stopping locations, central Caldeira and the unique lunar landscape of the Capelinhos volcano, just 61 years old. From volcanoes to endemic forests, breath-taking lookouts and landscapes, enjoy a series of short walks on your final day amidst the nature and culture of the Azores.
Return to Horta for some leisure time before you set out to sea for a further afternoon of whale and dolphin spotting with local experts.
In the evening it’s time to look back and discuss your experiences during your stay in Portugal over a farewell dinner in the hotel.
DAY 8: DEPART AZORES
On the final day of your Azorian adventure, there are no activities are planned. Transfers will be provide to Horta airport where you can return home via Lisbon or our partner Intrepid travel can arrange for a return flight to Sao Miguel for a small charge, where you can travel direct to a range of international destinations.