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By Futurismo Azores Adventures

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Exploring Pico Island

TOUR IN

EUROPE

  • 04 Apr
  • -
  • 07 Apr 2022
  • |
  • 5 days

$370

per person

Availability: 8 places

  • Hiking

  • Wine

  • Whale

With an area of 448km2, the Island of Pico is the second largest in the Azores and one that is home to Portugal’s highest mountain, also called Pico, at 2,351m above sea level.

Day 1

Walking UNESCO Heritage Site Santana to Lajido

This trail is taking you through a wide range of landscapes, through a famous area where the liquorous Pico wine was once produced. Lajido is one of the oldest wine production places. Due to the good preservation of the place with its many little adegas (wine cellars), manor houses and evidences related to the golden wine age, we can say that it is an authentic open air museum. After the pick up in Madalena, we are ready to go on this interesting trip which will teach you so much about Pico island and its wine culture. The trail leads through the landscape of the vineyards, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage, but also through dense vegetation, along pastures and over stone paths marked by the constant passage of ox carts. Once in Lajido, we will have the chance to taste the traditional Pico wine. The original wines from Pico are white with a high alcohol graduation (liquorous wines), made from three noble grape varieties: Verdelho, Azorean Arinto and Pico’s Terrantez; Verdelho being the most common one. Due to the volcanic ground and special arrangement of vineyards, we obtain grapes with a high content of sugar and a wine of an equilibrated acidity and high minerality. Pico has been producing wine since the 15th century, some years after the first settlers came. After this cultural hike and delicious wine tasting, we will go back to Madalena to drop you off.
Pico madalena vineyards pico agosto 2019153

Day 2

All About Wine - Full Day

If you like wine and wonder why Pico’s wine culture is so special that its landscape was classified UNESCO Heritage, come with us on this “all about wine” tour. After the pick up in Madalena, we will start with a walk through the vineyards of Criação Velha. There, we cannot only witness the special characteristics and beauty of Pico’s wine landscape, but also understand how much work is involved to create it. Not only the vineyards are part of the patrimony, but also the built centers of typical adegas (wine cellars). Let’s discover one of these apparently abandoned places and taste the local table wine next to the ocean. We will then visit the regional wine laboratory where it is possible to make an analysis of the wine’s physical and chemical composition, as well as a professional wine tasting with their winemaking engineer. This step of our trip is dependent on the laboratory’s availability. But don’t worry, if there is no possibility to visit it, we alternatively might pay a visit to the beautiful wine museum and its impressive garden of dragon trees. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will go to São Roque on the North Coast. On the way, we will pass the former wine production places Cachorro and Lajido, discovering other features that can be referred to the golden wine age that lasted over 200 years, such as little ports, tidal wells, distilleries and much more. We will end the tour in the best possible way in an adega of a local producer, tasting the finest wines from Pico: the famous « liquorous » white wine, a very strong wine, that once brought great economic success to the island. Depending on the availability of the cellars, we will go to Czar or Buraca cellars.

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Day 3

Volcanoes & Lakes - Full Day

On Pico’s central plateau, there are more than 200 volcanic cones and a large number of lakes and ponds that represent rare biotopes. In this rather remote area, we can find a high level of biodiversity and still appreciate the variety of the endemic flora. We will also enjoy the most beautiful views over the ocean and the surrounding islands. There, we will be able to enjoy Pico’s nature at its best and experience the volcanic origin of the island. We will first pick you up in Madalena for this incredible full-day adventure. During the tour, we will discover Pico’s “mysteries", visit beautiful little lakes and several viewpoints. We will pass by Pico da Urze, a volcano offering a wonderful panorama over Pico mountain and by the volcanic complex of the island’s eastern part. In the afternoon, after a picnic lunch the adventure continues. Provided with helmets and flashlights, we will join a guided tour through Portugal’s longest lava tube: Gruta das Torres, being 5,150m long (3,2 miles). This tube exists for about 1,500 years and was created during an eruption coming from Cabeço Bravo. The guided tour to the cave lasts about 1 hour, during which you will be able to observe different geological formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, side benches, lava balls, and so much more. Once back at the surface, we will drop you off back in Madalena after this long day full of wonders

Alvaro pico  lava cave gruta das torres 1

Day 4

Whales & Whaling Heritage - Full Day

Fortunately, whaling was forbidden in 1986 in the Azores. However, it moulded the islands’ History for more than 100 years and nowadays it represents an important part of the local patrimony. The Azorean people used to hunt whales to survive, the hunt was always « manual » and rudimentary. During this tour, you will have the opportunity to discover the deepest secrets of this practice and how it ended. In the morning, we will start with a visit of a former whale factory in São Roque do Pico; a place that allows us to travel back in time and see how and under which conditions the locals have worked to secure their subsistence. Crossing the island to the South Coast, we will visit a traditional whale lookout hut, where we usually have the opportunity to meet a whale spotter, giving directions to the whale watching boats. We will spend the rest of the morning in Lajes do Pico, the Azorean whaling capital, enjoying a walk through this picturesque traditional village with influenced architecture from this period. We will also pass by a monument dedicated to the whalers as well as ancient tryworks replicas. In the famous whalers museum we get to understand the special meaning and importance of the whaling heritage for the local community. After lunch in a local restaurant, let’s go for our whale and dolphin watching experience. Our biologists will give you a briefing to explain which cetacean species can be observed, safety measures aboard, how we respect the animals and rules of observation at sea. During the boat trip, you will have the opportunity to watch some of the 28 cetacean species that can be found in the Azores.

Whale pico mountain