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Descovering Island of Terceira

Our trip to Terceira in September 2020 was a real adventure. Despite the trip being planned and booked a long time ago, we were caught in the middle of a pandemic and we feared that it would have to be cancelled. However, it was not necessary to cancel, we just had to carry out the tests for Covid19, which are not very pleasant but, we understand that it is necessary. With the negative result, off we went to this paradise.


We traveled on the company SATA - Air Açores, which makes daily connections to and from mainland Portugal. The trip lasts approximately 2:30h. We had promised our daughter a long time ago that we would make her dream come true, which was to fly, and it was this time. She loved taking off and landing, and walking above the clouds! The first aerial view of the island, with that lush green, is breathtaking.


We stayed in a local accommodation, in Agualva, in the northeast of the island, surrounded by green fields and overlooking the sea. The surrounding tranquility, friendliness and hospitality of the people of the island is something that will be etched in our memories.

The weather was fine, we had a hiking plan, which we were hoping to be able to do with our 5 year old daughter and some tips from our host on the best places to eat and visit. After stocking up at the nearest mini-market, we started to think about what we were going to do the next day.


We chose to take a 4 km walk in the Bays of Agualva, but it was a bit demanding for our daughter, who was exhausted. After the walk, we went to rest and take a dip in the Quatro Ribeiras Natural Pools, formed by volcanic rock. It was a wonderful experience to swim in these mild waters almost all year round, due to the Golfo current, which passes relatively close to the archipelago and keeps the water always at a temperature between 17º and 23º. On that day, we still went to visit the Biscuit Wine Museum.

The Biscoitos area is a place of volcanic formation where the famous vineyards are located, divided by "curraletas" of dry stone masonry. The wines from the Biscoitos vineyards are mostly made from the Verdelho variety.



On the second day, we had scheduled a boat trip to observe cetaceans with the company Atlantiangra. Once again we were lucky with the weather conditions, which were perfect! We went to Angra do Heroísmo to fulfill another family dream: watching whales in their natural habitat. As the vessel moves away from the coast, the view of Monte Brasil imposes itself on the landscape. A whale had been spotted by the lookout and we went looking for it. After some time following her trail, we were able to observe her fin and back, when she came to the surface. It was a sardine whale (Sei whale), which belongs to the baleen whale group. These whales, instead of teeth, have baleen, which are made of a fibrous material and look like a large baleen inside the mouth. Baleen whales feed by ingesting large amounts of water and food such as krill and small fish. The sardine whale belongs to the group of the three largest animals in the world, along with the blue whale and the fin whale.

We still managed to see several groups of dolphins, of three different species: the spotted dolphin, the common dolphin and the porpoise. The group of spotted dolphins was very interactive and swam in the bow of our boat for a long time. The boto, unlike other species of dolphins, does not have a beak and shows a more suspicious behavior towards vessels. It is an experience that we strongly recommend to all nature lovers!

After lunch in Angra do Heroísmo, we went to recognize the route of Monte Brasil. Monte Brasil is an ancient volcano with maritime origin, the best preserved in the Azores. This time only Michael did the hike, as our daughter was very tired and the hike was demanding. The route passes through several viewpoints to the bay of the city of Angra and through forests, where groups of fallow deer live.



The third day was rainy. We took the opportunity to take a shorter walk along the Ribeira de Agualva, a route that promised several waterfalls. It is only 2 km long, but due to its technical level, we classify it as difficult, as in some sections we have to climb with ropes. Canoeing is practiced in this creek, which we were eager to try. The waterfalls of the Agualva stream did not disappoint either.

In the afternoon, we went to visit Algar do Carvão, the Natal Cave and the Sulfur Furnas. It was raining torrentially in the interior of the island.

The Algar do Carvão, is a volcanic cavity 100 meters deep, formed about 2000 years ago due to magma drainage from the main volcanic chimney. Inside, there is a ceiling with silica stalactites and a pond. What we liked the most was being inside the caldera and looking up at the walls covered in vegetation. This image, which we tried to capture with our cameras, took us back to Jules Verne's books. According to our host, there are only two places in the world where you can visit the inside of a volcano, the other is in Indonesia. No wonder this is one of the most sought after attractions on the island.

On our visit to the Natal Cave, we had the opportunity to enter a lava tube 697 m long. Inside the cave, different geological structures and runoffs of different types of lava can be observed.

The Sulfur Furnas are a natural monument that was adapted to receive visitors with the construction of walkways and a visitation circuit, where it is possible to see the "fumaroles", that is, the outlets of volcanic and sulfur gases at high temperatures.

On this day we went for a cheese tasting at the cheese factory that produces Queijo Vaquinha, where you can try several varieties of cheese, produced by hand. We accompany the cheeses with a Biscoitos wine and sit down to relax. From the terrace, if the sky is clear, you can see the islands of S. Jorge and Graciosa. What a nice way to end the day, don't you think?



On the fourth day we had to return to Angra do Heroísmo to carry out the second test for Covid19. That day we did the trail of the Forts of São Sebastião. In São Sebastião, we could observe a beautiful example of the typical churches of the cult of the Holy Spirit, whose festivities take place during Easter week. This cult, as in all the other islands of the archipelago, has a great expression on Terceira Island. The route passes several ruined forts along the coast. Some of them were the scene of important battles on Terceira Island. After walking, we went up by car to the Serra do Cume Viewpoint. With an altitude of 545 meters, this viewpoint offers a panoramic view over Praia da Vitória and the interior plain of the island, which is divided by walls of volcanic stone. This is the "postcard" image of the Azores, also known as "patchwork". The next stop was the Facho Viewpoint, where you can enjoy a view of the city of Praia da Vitória and its bay.



On the fifth day, the last day before returning, it was raining heavily, as a storm was approaching. All that remained to do was the Trail of Mistérios Negros, a spectacular trail in the interior of the island. This trail is part of the Santa Bárbara and Mistérios Negros Nature Reserve and passes through several lagoons, such as Lagoinha do Vale Fundo, an important place for some migratory birds that arrive here. Michael did the reconnaissance alone, equipped with waterproof pants and poncho. That day we still went to visit the Biscuit Natural Pools, which are fantastic, but this time we couldn't go swimming. We bought some cobs and went to eat at a viewpoint over the bays of Agualva. It was the last day we had to explore the island and much remained to be seen. We want to go back there again. Maybe one day, when our daughter is older and can take longer walks...



THE TERCEIRA ISLAND

  • It is the second most inhabited island in the Azores.

  • Together with Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial, form the central group of the Azores Archipelago.

  • Its highest point, with about 1021 meters of altitude, is located in the Serra de Santa Bárbara.

  • As its name suggests, this was the third island to be discovered in the Azores archipelago.

  • Due to its location, it served as a port of call for Portuguese ships at the time of the discoveries of India and America.

  • The first city of the Azores was Angra, nowadays, Angra do Heroísmo.

  • The city of Angra do Heroísmo was declared by UNESCO, in 1983, a world heritage site, due to its architectural, historical and cultural value.

  • The Azores have been recognized as one of the top places for whale watching in the world.




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