Macaronesia Tour

Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands & Cape Verde
TOURCODE: JHMA

Duration:
21 Days

Activity Level:
2

When To Go:
May

Countries Visited:
3

Arrive In / Depart From:
Ponta Delgada / Praia

Max Group Size:
18

Tour Style:
Cultural

Price From:

  Overnight in: Ponta Delgada, Horta, Angra do Heroísmo, Furnas, Funchal, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Praia, Sao Filipe

Discover the country's true culture with the help of experienced local guides.

  • Small group sizes to help escape the beaten path.
  • All-inclusive with top-rated restaurants and hotels.
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Tour Overview
Tour Overview
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Countries Visited: 3 Activity Level: 2 Tour Style: Cultural

A group of islands jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, our Macaronesia explores a group of four archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean belonging to three countries: Portugal, Spain, and Cape/Cabo Verde. The name is derived from the Greek words for "islands of the fortunate," a term used by Ancient Greek geographers for islands to the west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Apart from the Azores and Madeira, which are considered mainly as part of Europe, the other islands on our tour are closer to Africa. Each island is different but all share a wealth of spectacular volcanic landscapes, varied cultures, climates, and natural history.

Our tour starts in the Azores, where trading ports from the 18th and 19th centuries greet travellers with a graceful centre of cobbled streets in its historical centre filled with squares, well-tended gardens, and handsome monuments. Beyond the fishing villages are scenic vistas and incredible mountain scenery with sweeping coastal views. Each island boasts postcard perfect beaches, with world class whale watching never far away from the islands. Inland, volcanic landscapes create blue and green crater lakes and calderas that are as vivid as they are awe inspiring.

Historically, the Azores contain two of Portugal's 15 UNESCO monuments. Much of the scenic landscape inspires part of the culture such as the UNESCO listed vineyards of Pico that are sheltered from the volcanic stone walls.

After the Azores, but still within Portugal, our tour takes us to Madeira, considered a floating garden. The rich volcanic soil promotes an astonishingly verdant array of flowers, plants, and trees, both in the wild and in some beautifully-cultivated gardens. Here we discover a lush and vertical landscape with a wild, terraced terrain. This 36 mile by 14 mile island (70% is national park) packs more into its chaotic terrain than most areas 5 times its size.

After Madeira, we continue to the Canary Islands. Made up of 13 islands, these islands have become a fun in the sun hot spot for some, yet still boast a historical element that makes a cultural tour here worthwhile. Whether in small fishing villages or the colourful capital, it is easy to spot panoramic views. Explore the national parks with us, with unique flora and fauna special to these islands. For the historically inclined, we'll also pause with a stop at Christopher Columbus's house.

Finishing our tour, we at last reach the sovereign nation of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), located just 500 km off the African coast. Its culture has been very strongly influenced by West Africa due to its geographical position and the fact it was the centre for the international slave trade with the neighbouring continent for many years. Music styles, such as funana and batuco, which one hears everywhere, are a potent reminder of this fact.

Expect stunning views on this island nation as well - craggy peaks stand as a backdrop of green valleys and fertile plateaus. Fine sandy beaches give way to dry steppe grasslands. Diversity in the landscape is apparent from the first day.

The exotic islands with their dramatic coastline and individual cultures make for an exciting itinerary that is far from ordinary.

 


 

Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices

 

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to below Prices & Dates table. For general information on flights to/from the tour, click here.

 

Select a date below to reserve your spot:

 

The tour price includes all internal airfares & taxes. Due to the nature of internal flights, this tour requires a $1000 per person deposit.

Optional Single Supplement: $1840 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $1840 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.

 


 

Full Itinerary
Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in the Azores, Portugal
Arrival in Ponta Delgada, Azores (PDL), located on San Miguel Island, the largest in the archipelago.*

Welcome to Macaronesia, a collection of four archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean belonging to three countries: Portugal, Spain, and Cape Verde. Apart from the Azores and Madeira, which are considered mainly as part of Europe, the other islands of Macaronesia are closer to Africa. The name is derived from the Greek words for "islands of the fortunate," a term used by Ancient Greek geographers for islands to the west of the Straits of Gibraltar. Macaronesia is occasionally misspelled "Macronesia" in false analogy with Micronesia, an unrelated Pacific archipelago.

Ponta Delgada is a graceful centre with cobbled streets meandering down to a marina lined with restaurants. As most flights from North America land in the morning, we recommend that you spend some time exploring its historical centre where you will discover the squares, well-tended gardens, and handsome monuments built when Ponta Delgada was an important trading port in the 18th and early 19th centuries. For a pleasant overview of Ponta Delgada, stroll along the town’s harbourfront promenade.

This evening we assemble for our welcome dinner and trip orientation.

* As many flights arrive in Ponta Delgada in the early morning, we have requested early check-in at our hotel. Hopefully we will be able to confirm closer to departure.

Overnight in Ponta Delgada.

Included Meal(s): Dinner



Day 2 Sao Miguel: West Island Exploration
Today’s excursion takes us through the heart of the island and out to the western end of it. As we leave Ponta Delgada we will stop at Ponta de Ferraria and Ponta do Escalvado. At Miradouro do Escalvado we will have a superb view over the fishing village of Mosteiros, with it’s beautiful summer homes, beaches, and natural pools.

The westernmost part of the island is where the mountains and lakes of Sete Cidades ('Seven Cities') are situated. The southwest road takes us along the coast through green pastures, and we will stop at the Vista do Rei (King’s View), one of the most stunning panorama spots of the island. From here the blue and green crater lakes can be seen. The volcanic caldera lake of Lagoa das Sete Cidades is one of the great natural wonders of the Azores archipelago, and absolutely mesmerizing in its beauty. Nearly five km long and 2 km wide, this is the largest freshwater lake in the Azores and, in fact, consists of two lagoons – the Green Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon. An emerald mantle of rolling hills and lush vegetation frames both, and in some places the cliffs drop 500 metres in to the mirror-like waters. We will enjoy a short walk to the viewpoint of Boca do Inferno, where we admire the view over the crater of Sete Cidades. Later we will visit the farming village of Sete Cidades, situated right on the crater floor.

We will stop at Pico do Carvao where the north and south coasts of the island can be seen. From here we head to the north coast and along to the town of Ribeira Grande where we will see the historical centre and some of the islands most beautiful cliffs. We rise to the Fogo Lake, the most isolated and untouched lake of Sao Miguel. Driving down from the north coast our next stop is at Caldeira Velha where we discover a waterfall located on the north slope of the Fogo Volcano. Our next stop is a the Lake of Fire, another breathtaking caldera with a lake at the bottom. Its remote setting, more or less in the middle of Sao Miguel Island, makes this impressive volcanic crater especially appealing. There are no settlements here as the entire area is a protected nature reserve, and the crater’s walls are studded with a number of endemic plant species. Our last views of the day will be from the top of the volcano of Pico da Barrosa (947 metres).

Overnight in Ponta Delgada.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 3 Ponta Delgada - Faial Island: Capelinhos Volcano & Horta
This morning we fly to Faial Island (+/- 30 minutes). Immediately upon arrival, we'll begin our sightseeing program, starting in the main town of Horta.

Faial is the third most populous island of the Archipelago with a population of 15,000 (2011 data). The island is part of the Central Group and is the westernmost corner of the so-called "Triangle Islands," which also include São Jorge and Pico, the latter of which we will visit tomorrow. One delightful aspect of the Azores, is the differences (some subtle, some not so much) between them -- from vegetation and climate, topography and history, to matters economic and political, mythology, sports affiliations, accent, and cusines.

In the 18th century the development of whale hunting brought the early whaling fleets to Horta. By 19th century, Horta had become an important sea port, and a stopping point for a large number of yachts crossing the Atlantic. The island is located on the edge of the tectonic divide between the North American Plate and the European Plate, making it one of the most western points of Europe (the farthest is the tiny Azorean island of Corvo, located to the northwest). The island's scenery offers sandy beaches, green hills, and crystal blue ocean views. The volcanic origin of Faial can be easily observed on the island due to numerous calderas, craters, cones, lava fields, and natural boiling water springs.

Our first stop on Faial is the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre, dedicated to the underwater volcano that erupted in spectacular fashion off the island of Faial in 1957. This event afforded scientists a unique opportunity to study a rare geological phenomenon from the moment of its birth to the day it fell dormant. The centre's displays and exhibits tell the story not just of this volcano, whose 13-month-long eruption prompted half of the island's population to emigrate to North America, but also of the tectonic forces shaping the Azores' extraordinary landscape.

Afterwards we will visit a local cheese production and taste some delicious cheeses.

We continue with a visit to the Scrimshaw Museum (while baggage is delivered at the hotel), located above one of the waterfront's best-known restaurants and watering holes. The museum contains a magnificent set of pieces carved from the teeth of sperm whales, engraved with beautiful sailing boats, mermaids, images of whale-hunting, among many others. This is a private collection belonging to the owners of the Peter Sports Café next door, a famous meeting place for seafarers from all over the world.

Overnight in Horta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 4 Faial & Pico Islands
This morning we take the local ferry the short crossing to Pico Island (+/- 30 minutes) for a full day tour of this unique and beautiful island.

Our first stop involves an easy walk through a good example of the vineyards for which Pico is renown. The wine, salt spray, and rocky volcanic landscape have combined to create a unique way of growing grape vines, sheltered by complex volcanic stone walls that keep heat in and winds at bay. This unique cultivation method and attendant wine cultural tradition has earned Pico's vinyards Unesco World Patrimony since 2004.

We then head up to the unique landscape comprised of craters and lagoons that form the Achada Plateau of Pico Island. To make the day even more exciting we will don helmets and grab flashlights for a stroll through the largest lava tube in Portugal, with amazing geological formations in an unforgettable underground experience (there is a main flight of stairs at the entrance/exit; the walk through the tube itself is level but uneven with some stooping required. Not for the clausterphobic!).

Our journey across the island takes us back down to sea level and a break for lunch,* included today. Our meal features local dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients; you will also have a chance to sample the wines for which Pico is famous.

Then we will visit the Whalers' Museum in Lajes do Pico, known as the Whaler’s village, to learn about the story of whaling activity in the Azores. Dedicated to the socio-economic influence of the whaling industry in the region, the museum was established in the abandoned whaling factory used for many years in the processing of whale blubber into oil. Whaling in the Azores ended in the 1980's, but pride in whaling tradition and history is still very much alive, just like the whales that these days are worth far more alive, comprising an important aspect of local tourism.

Our (roughly) circular route takes us along the coast where we can stop to enjoy coastal views and to admire the attractive and striking local construction from lava stone and colourful trim. Prior to catching our ferry back to Faial (time-permitting!), we can stop at Cella Bar, named the "most beautiful in Europe" for its unique design and stunning seaside location. Enjoy a refreshing drink on the patio before getting dropped at the port for our return journey to Faial.

Due to our substantial lunch today, we do not include dinner this evening. If you still have an appetite, an interesting choice is Canto da Doca, where you can cook your own dinner on a super-heated slab of lava rock, or, of course, Pete's Sports Café.

Overnight in Horta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch



Day 5 Horta, Faial - Terceira Island: Island Touring
This morning we fly the short distance to the island of Terceira.

This is one of the larger islands of the archipelago, with a population of 56,000 in an area of approximately 396.75 square kilometres (153.19 square miles). It is the location of the Azores' oldest city, Angra do Heroísmo, the historical capital of the archipelago and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After landing at the airport, also a United States Air Force detachment, we head off for a leisurely journey across the island, known for expansive views of impossibly green agricultural land with the ubiquitous Azorean volcanic cones littering the landscape. We'll aim for a coffee and/or lunch stop en route prior to our highlight today, a visit to very few places in the world allow you to explore and go inside a volcano. Algar do Carvão, meaning “coal pit” due to the cave walls formed from dark black lava, is the only place on earth where you can see two structures, the chimney and chambers, without being cooked alive. What stands out as unique are the stalactites and stalagmites formed by amorphous silica.

To enter we go down the volcano chimney that is lava free today, uncommon in most volcanoes, and a tunnel and staircases offer access to the caves below. At the bottom there is a crystal clear lake formed by rainwater. Unlike our lava tube experience on Pico, the caves here are large and roomy and open to the sky above; bring a light jacket as it can be chilly inside.

We then head for Angra do Heroísmo, the island's principal city and location of our accommodation. We'll take in a view of the city from, what else, a volcanic cone that dominates the town, and then have a leisurely stroll through its centre and the gardens at its heart. Angra was an obligatory port of call for the fleets of equatorial Africa and of the East and West Indies routes during their voyages to and from Europe from the 15th century until the advent of steamships in the 19th century. According to UNESCO, the port of Angra is also the eminent example of a creation linked to the maritime world: It is directly and tangibly associated with a development of a universal historic significance, the maritime exploration that allowed exchanges between the world’s great civilizations.

This evening we enjoy a traditional meal in an authentic farmhouse environment; if available, a local musical group may perform for us.

Overnight in Angra do Heroísmo.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 6 Terceira - Ponta Delgada: Whale Watching - Furnas
Today (early start!) we fly back to Sao Miguel and, after a break for coffee, enjoy an exciting whale watching excursion from the port of Ponta Delgada.

Our vessel is large and stable and well-appointed, but still nimble enough to respond quickly to the whale spotters positioned on the hills around us; many of these same spotters used to alert hunters back in the day when whaling was a major industry. Our tour is preceded by a briefing in which a biologist explains how the Azoreans have converted whale hunting to whale watching. The briefing also includes information about safety, rules of observation, and respect for the animals, and an overview of what may be sighted during the tour. The excursion is led by nature guides who provide detailed explanations and collect scientific data during the tour. The Azores are a permanent home or point of passage for more than a third of the world's whale and dolphin species; sperm whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and Risso's dolphins are present around the Azores archipelago throughout the year. We'll also be here at the right time for blue and fin whales, the largest and second largest of the cetaceans.

After our excursion, and some free time for lunch in town, we'll head to the eastern side of the island. The village of Furnas, as well as the nearby volcanic complex of geothermal springs, is situated beside the easternmost of the three spectacular caldera lakes -- Lagoa das Furnas. Our hotel is a luxurious spa-style property with a huge thermal pool and adjacent botanical garden. If you choose to soak in the massive pool after our arrival, please note that darker coloured suits are best as the water is rich in iron and might stain light-coloured fabric.

Arrival at the hotel around 3.00pm.

Overnight in Furnas.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 7 Sao Miguel: Furnas & East Island Touring
The Parish of Furnas is located in the middle of a huge volcano, and the “Caldeiras of Furnas” is a place of hot water springs and medicinal mud where visitors come to bathe in the hot pools! While in Furnas, we will spend some time in the centre of the village with its gushing geysers, burping mud, and hot bubbling springs.

We then head to Pico dos Milhos for an overview (mists permitting!) of Furnas valley. Finally we will exit the volcano and head up to a spectacular panorama of the village of Vila Franca and the famous lagoon – the crater of a submarine volcano about 5,000 years old. We will stop in the historical centre of Vila Franca do Campo, the former capital of the island.

As we cross towards the north side of the island, one of our stops will be at Miradouro de Santa Iria, from where we have a dramatic view over the north coast. Weather-permitting we will be able to spot the volcano of Sete Cidades as well as Pico da Vara, the highest point of the island (1105 metres). We will also make a stop at the Gorreana tea plantation, one of the only tea plantations in Europe!

We will visit Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiros where waterfalls and gardens give a special touch to the park. At the Vista dos Barcos viewpoint we will see “Farol do Arnel”, the oldest lighthouse of the Azores dating back to 1876. Ponta do Sossego is a beautiful garden and scenic lookout surrounded by mountains. At the view point of “Pico Longo” we can see the village of Povoacao, where the first settlement was established back in 1432.

With a stop for lunch en route, we plan to be back in Furnas in time for some well-deserved down-time in the pretty spot. We recommend a walk through the botanical gardens located on the hotel property.

Overnight in Furnas.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 8 Sao Miguel: Faial da Terra Hike & Time at Leisure
Today's half-day activity takes us for a light 2-hour hike on a on circular route in Faial da Terra.* Most of our route is flat/undualting on a well-maintained dirt track; however, the first part of the path from the parking area involves an uphill/downhill stretch through a small farming village to a point where the trail enters the forest where it becomes flatter and lighty undulating (if it has rained recently, which is likely, you'll need good walking shoes with a decent tread for the slippery spots). The overrall distance is 4km (2.5 mi) and the duration should be +/- 2 hours depending on our stopping time along the way and at the pretty Salto do Prego waterfall. Our total elevation gain/loss is approximately 200m (656 ft).

Our outing will also include a stop at one of the Azores' many pineapple farms, where we explore the traditional greenhouses where the Azorean pineapple has been cultivated for more than 150 years. We'll see the fruit, each one of them in different stages of the cycle, and get to know all the secrets and peculiarities of this extraordinary crop.

We return to our hotel with an afternoon at leisure during which you can take advantage of our hotels spa services, outdoor hot spring pool, and lush gardens.

* If you are uncertain about your suitability, please confer with your Tour Leader who, at this point, will be familiar with your abilities. If you choose to forego and enjoy a break at the hotel, we'll see you at dinnertime.

Overnight in Furnas.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 9 Furnas - Ponta Delgada, Azores - Madeira Island
Early this morning we transfer to the airport to fly to the island of Madeira, also part of Portugal.

With a subtropical climate warmed by the Gulf Stream, this volcanic outcrop off the coast of Africa is Portugal’s own floating garden. The rich volcanic soil promotes an astonishingly verdant array of flowers, plants, and trees, both in the wild and in some beautifully-cultivated gardens. Here we discover a lush and vertical landscape with a wild terraced terrain. This 36 mile by 14 mile island (70% is national park) packs more into its chaotic terrain than most areas 5 times its size.

Funchal, the capital of the Madeira archipelago, was declared a city in the 1500s and became an important point between the old and new worlds. The laid-back city owes much of its historical prominence to the white gold, the Madeiran sugar.

Today we will tour the city of Funchal, including the 'Old Town', one of the most attractive areas of the city. Portuguese settlers colonized the coast in the early 1400's, and over the years the population grew as international trade attracted the attention of much of Europe. Today we discover a modern city with over 110,000 inhabitants. Located right in the center of Funchal is a busy and colourful covered market (Mercado dos Lavradores). Here we discover a great variety of fresh fish, tropical fruits, spices, colourful flowers and some local crafts. This is also the place to find local delicacies such as Madeira wine or honey cake.

The narrow and cobbled Rua de Santa Maria is the oldest street in Funchal, dating back to the 15th century. When the heavy storms of 2010 severely damaged the old town, the municipality launched the project ‘Art Open Doors’ in order to revitalize the area. They invited local artists to paint the doors in the street and the result is a vibrant, colourful, artistic street, full of energy. For the best view of Funchal we will take the cable car (Teleferico do Funchal) to the Monte Village. The 15-minute journey takes us 560 meters above the city, with a 360º panoramic view of Funchal, the dramatic mountain landscape, and the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. Nearby is the Madeira Story Centre, an excellent museum that charts the history and culture of the Madeira archipelago.

Monte Village was built in 1565 as a summer refuge for Funchal’s aristocracy. Constructed in 1741, the Church of Our Lady of the Monte is the resting place of Charles I, the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Those who climb to the bell tower terrace are rewarded with a spectacular view.

Overnight in Funchal.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 10 East Madeira Exploration
Today we explore the eastern side of the island with its dramatic mountain, forest and coastal views. Just a short distance from the capital is the cultural village of Camacha, known as ‘the village of basket makers’, and the center of Madeira's willow craft industry.

Our journey then takes us up to Pico do Arieiro (1818 meters/5,965 ft), one of the island's highest peaks with spectacular views. After visiting the highest (driveable) peak in Madeira, we will head towards Ribeiro Frio, a popular starting point for 'levada' walks. Madeira was once completely covered by laurel 'Laurissilva' forest, a relic from prehistoric times. Laurel forest, also called laurisilva or laurissilva, is a type of subtropical forest found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable, mild temperatures. This region still has much of its original vegetation, and here we will enjoy an easy walk. As UNESCO put it... "an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type. It is the largest surviving area of laurel forest and is believed to be 90% primary forest.". This is one of the best places to really appreciate Madeira's natural heritage.

We then visit Santana, which is famous for its typical A-framed cottages with thatched roofs. As we turn back towards the east coast we will make our way towards Faial where we may stop for lunch. We then make our way to Porto da Cruz, Caniçal, and Ponta de São Lourenço - with some of the best views you can get on the island. From here you can see both coasts as well as Porto Santo and the Dessertas Islands.

We also stop in Curral das Freiras ('Nuns Valley'), a small village nestled between almost perpendicular mountains in the heart of the island.

Overnight in Funchal.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 11 West Madeira Exploration
Today we explore the west, crossing mountain passes and traversing Madeira's highest plateau. Prepare for some spectacular panoramas!

In the morning we first pass through the traditional fishing village of Camara de Lobos, and make a stop at the Pico da Torre viewpoint. Here the port is really just a small creek, with a beach, a harbour and houses heaped up around the bay. We willcontinue up to the lofty sea cliffs of Cabo Girao, the highest sea cliffs in Europe (580m) / the second highest sea cliffs in the world. From here you can enjoy some beautiful views. A glass bottomed skywalk hangs out over the top of the cliff! Sea erosion has led to the formation of caves and terraces along the coastline, and the local population have created small plots for crops, forming an incredible watercolour landscape.

In Ribeira Brava we will see the 16th century mother church. Along the promenade we will pass by the town’s landmark, the fort of São Bento. We then visit what many consider to be the most beautiful village on the island, Ponta do Sol (point of the sun). The town, with its old restored buildings, was once described as a 'quiet and pretty little village shoe-horned into the folds of a steep valley'. We continue to make our way up through the Laurissilva forest, and reach the plateau of Paul da Serra, which translated roughly is "mountain plain". This is Madeira’s biggest and highest plateau, situated at 1400m (4,593 ft), and here we can enjoy another 'Levada walk'. Our next stop is the village of Porto Moniz on the north coast, which is famous for its natural volcanic rock pools. This is Madeira's most north-western valley, and the dramatic village is situated at the foot of the mountain.

Our next stop is at the picturesque village of Seixal where local vegetable gardens and vineyards are surrounded by heather broom. We will see the famous "Brides Vale" falls which plummets directly into the sea. Our scenic coastal route then brings us to the charming fishing village of São Vicente.

Overnight in Funchal.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 12 Madeira, Portugal - Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Today we fly from Madeira to Tenerife (North) in the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands (Islas Canarias), also known as the Canaries (Canarias), are an archipelago and autonomous community of Spain located 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Morocco. The Canaries are among the outermost regions of the European Union proper; it is also one of the eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality recognized as such by the Spanish Government. The Canary Islands are the most southerly region of Spain and the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region.

We land on the largest island and begin (flight time-permitting) a sightseeing program in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a city and capital (jointly with Las Palmas) of the Canary Islands. This good looking and wholly Spanish city is home to evocative, brightly-painted buildings, sophisticated and quirky shops, excellent museums, and a tropical oasis of birdsong, fountains, and greenery in the city park. Our last stop will be the small town of Cristobal de la Laguna (likely a quick stop only), widely considered to be the most beautiful in Tenerife. The historic town centre is a gem, with narrow poker-straight streets flanked by pastel-hued historic mansions, inviting bars, and idiosyncratic small shops. Its layout provided the model for many colonial towns in the Americas and, in 1999, La Laguna was added to the Unesco list of World Heritage sites.

Overnight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 13 Santa Cruz de Tenerife: City Touring
Today we’ll have a city tour of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a beautiful port situated on Tenerife, the largest of the western islands in the Canary archipelago. Around its important port are wide avenues, squares and exotic landscaped areas, and some beautiful examples of modernist architecture. We start at the Museum of Nature and Man (MNH), located in the Old Civil Hospital, an emblematic building in the island's capital and a fine example of the islands' typical neoclassical architecture. The museum offers the chance to learn more about the natural riches of the Canary Islands, and also to discover the most important collection existing on the culture of the "guanches", a native people who inhabited the island of Tenerife before the arrival of the first European settlers.

We’ll walk to the parish mother church of Nuestra Señora de La Concepción, the main Catholic church in the city, built where a chapel used to stand that was erected by the conquerors of Santa Cruz. The tower was raised in 1786 and is one of the most easily recognisable landmarks in the old quarter. Because of the extension work carried out over the years, it is the only church with five naves on the entire archipelago and a fine example of Canarian Baroque architecture.

We’ll also visit the interior the impressive and unique Auditorio de Tenerife. A marvel of the architectural avant-garde, created by Santiago Calatrava, which has become the cultural, social, and symbolic engine for the Canary Islands.

We the head to the Palmetum, a 12-hectare botanical garden that specialises in palm trees and a project unique in the world. It has transformed a municipal rubbish dump into a recreational space for plant lovers, bursting with spectacular plant life brought here through partnerships with institutions from all over the world. The gardens are home to the greatest collection of palms in Europe, thought to be the largest botanical collection of tropical island palms in the world.

Overnight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 14 Tenerife Island Touring
Today we take a panoramic route along Monte Esperanza towards the Teide National Park, including photo stops.*

Teide National Park, located in the centre of the island of Tenerife, is the largest and oldest of the four national parks on the Canary Islands. From its surface area of 190 km2 (18,990 hectares), Mount Teide rises up to a height of 3718 m, which makes it the highest peak in Spain. There are many services organised for visitors so that they can discover and enjoy this area: a convenient road network across the entire park, two visitor centres that reveal some of the park’s secrets, a bar and restaurant area for refreshment, and abundant vantage points to gain a panoramic view of the whole park. Our program today is informal and weather-dependent, but will concentrate on the unique flora, fauna, and landscape of this special place.

We continue to the spectacular Barranco de Masca with a brief stay in the picturesque village before returning to Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

* Please note that we do not include the cable car on our trip, as it is often closed due to weather and takes quite a chunk of time out of our day. Past travellers have also noted that time could be better spent down in the park, rather than removed far above it.

Overnight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 15 Day Trip to La Gomera Island
We have an early morning departure to catch our ferry from Los Cristianos to Gomera Island.


Our visit begins with an ascent up to the mountains to the viewpoint of Mirador de las Carboneras for photos and to enjoy the scenery of the Hermigua Valley. 

Continuing on to the Garajonay National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, we descend through La Palmita arriving at the small village of Las Rosas, where we stop for a typical island lunch and enjoy a demonstration of the unique Gomeran whistling language, El Silbo.

Passing through the beautiful village of Hermigua, we arrive in San Sebastian, where there is free time to visit La Torre del Conde (The Count's Tower), La Casa de Colon (Christopher Columbus's House), the Asuncion Church, and/or simply stroll around the capital, before returning to Tenerife, arriving back at our hotel probably around 8pm.

Due to the length of the day and our hearty lunch, we'll leave the evening meal up to you with a view to retiring at a decent hour tonight.

Overnight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch



Day 16 Tenerife & La Laguna - Ferry to Gran Canaria: Island Touring
This morning we board the ferry to Gran Canaria (approx 3 hours). Our journey to Gran Canaria a logistical move in order to place us for tomorrow's flight to Cape Verde, which departs only from Las Palmas. But why not see a bit of Gran Canaria while we're here?

Crowning an island of tall cliffs to the north and extensive beaches to the south, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a city which offers sun, sea and an exceptional historic legacy. The combination of the aboriginal Guanche culture, its colonial past, and the fact that it is only 90 miles from the coast of Africa create a distinctive character resulting from the mix of Europe, America, and Africa.

We’ll head to the center of the Island: Tejeda is the home of the Nublo rock, the symbol of Gran Canary. The Tejeda depression arose from a volcanic crater, standing over which is a mountain crowned by several rocky promontories, such as the Nublo rock, an enormous chunk of basalt which is the symbol of Gran Canary, and the Bentayga rock, where you will find the Caves of the King, a sacred site in pre-Hispanic times which contains cave paintings. The landscape of the area features forests of Canary Islands pine and almond trees.

Then we’ll head to Artenara. Almost the entire municipality of Artenara forms part of the Tamadaba Nature Reserve. In this setting framed by the massifs of Altavista and Tamada stands the Tejeda Crater, the biggest volcanic basin on the island. Outstanding in the town is the hermitage of the Virgen de La Cuevita and the surrounding area, in which there are major archaeological sites. The inhabitants still make ceramics, which means the local handicrafts are another of the area's tourist attractions.

After a break for lunch, we'll visit Teror, an important centre of religion and pilgrimage. The faithful from the entire Canary Islands archipelago come to this place to worship the patron of the diocese, the Virgen del Pino. The festival in her honour is held every September with a traditional pilgrimage and popular dances. A tour of the historic quarter of the town lets you see religious buildings and ancestral homes which have sprung up around the sanctuary of the Virgin.

Overnight in Las Palmas.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 17 Canary Islands, Spain - Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)
Today we connect with our flight (with one connection) south to Cape Verde (Cabo Verde), a sovereign state and isolated archipelago located off the coast of West Africa. At time of development, we expect to arrive in the mid-afternoon.

With the nation's capital of Cidade de Praia (Praia for short), Santiago Island, the largest of the Cape Verde islands, has had a strong influence on the history of the entire archipelago. More than half of the Cape Verdeans now live on Santiago. With an area of 990 sq. kilometres, Santiago is probably the most diverse island in terms of its landscape, where one can find fine sand beaches, craggy mountains, dry steppe grasslands, as well as fertile valleys and plateaux. Cape Verde has been very strongly influenced by West Africa in terms of its culture; it was the centre for the international slave trade with the neighbouring continent for many years. Music styles, such as funana and batuco, which one hears everywhere, are a potent reminder of this fact.

Overnight in Praia, Santiago Island.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 18 North of Praia Tour
Today’s tour takes us north to see Cidade da Ribeira Grande de Santiago, the former capital of Santiago (previously called Cidade Velha), which was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2009. They city is overlooked by a fortress, Fortaleza Real de Sao Felipe, which serves as a reminder of Portuguese colonial rule. The romantic little houses of Rua Banana also display architecture typical of Portugal, were rebuilt true to the original within the scope of a UNESCO project. The fact the Cidade de Santiago was the centre of the international slave trade during its heyday when it was still called Ribeira Grande, is attested to by the pillory (Pelourinho), an obelisk close to the city centre.

The Nossa Senhora do Rosario church, whose construction began in 1495, is located above the northern part of Rua Banana. With its baptismal of alabaster, it’s the oldest colonial church in the world. The floral motifs in stone in the latticework vault of the chapel are evidence of Moorish influences, as are the numerous azulejos (painted tiles).

Finally, we drive to Tarrafal, a small fishing village in the north of Santiago Island with its own pretty little bay lined with palms. More infamously, Tarrafal was the site of the Campo da Morte Lenta – “Camp of the Slow Death” – a prison camp in the Portuguese colony of Cape Verde, set up by the dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936), where opponents of his right-wing authoritarian regime were sent.

Overnight in Praia.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 19 Praia, Santiago - Fogo Island
With its roughly 100,000 inhabitants, the capital of Praia is the government and economic centre of the country. The core of the old town, built on a plateau, has magnificent houses from the colonial era. This morning we will visit the historical part of the town, the Plateau. We'll also include trip to Sokupira and its local market, and visit the Ethnographic Museum.

Later we transfer to the airport for our flight to Fogo Island and check-in to our hotel.

Fogo was the second island in the archipelago to be populated, after Santiago (then São Tiago). Initially, the island's cash crop was cotton, picked by slaves from Angola. A fiery eruption in 1688 caused a majority of the inhabitants to leave for nearby Brava, another of the Cape Verdean islands. From 1785 on, whaling ships from Brockton and New Bedford, Massachusetts came to replenish their ships and recruit crews. The departure of these Americanos marks the beginning of the Cape Verdean diaspora. Not everyone left Fogo, however. In 1870, the eccentric Count of Montrond (France) stopped on the island en route to Brazil, or so he thought. He stayed, and brought with him the vines that kicked off wine production. Many of the inhabitants of Chã (which we'll visit tomorrow), with their light skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, trace their ancestry back to the biologically prolific Count.

Overnight in Sao Filipe, Fogo Island.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 20 Fogo & Cha das Caldeiras
In the early morning we will start our tour up into the Chã das Caldeiras, where you will have the opportunity to walk on the lava fields and enjoy the stunning view on the majestic Pico Grande. Chã das Caldeiras (“Plain or Plateau of the Calderas”) is actually a small community of approximately 1,000 inhabitants within the crater of the volcano; the entire caldera, some 67 km², is a protected area as part of the Fogo Natural Park (Parque Natural do Fogo), a cooperative effort between the German and Cape Verdean governments.

We will see the fresh and almost dried-out lava of the eruption of November 2014; after taking some impressive pictures in the countryside we enjoy lunch at a family’s home. After lunch, we will visit a winery and taste the well-known Cha wine. The manager of the “Adega” has a nice garden behind his house that we will visit before travelling back to Sao Filipe.

Overnight in Sao Filipe, Fogo Island.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



Day 21 Fogo - Praia, Santiago - Depart
We have some free time today before flying back to Santiago Island. Your Tour Leader will suggest activities (TBA) as we prepare for our transfer to the airport. In Praia we'll have access to hotel day-rooms to freshen up before your evening flight homeward.

VIAGEM BOA!!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

 


 

Trip Info
Trip Info

Inclusions
Breakfast and most dinners, some lunches as per the tour itinerary.

All land transport, internal air & taxes, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary.

Gratuities for drivers, local guides, restaurant staff, porters.

Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book both their flights AND extra hotel nights through us.

Arrivals into Ponta Delgada and departures from Praia may be early/late respectively; we have requested early check-in and day rooms as appropriate.

Exclusions
International airfare to/from the tour.

Tour Leader gratuities, most lunches, two dinners, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air and air taxes (if applicable), domestic air taxes, visa/entrance fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'.

Airport transfers for Land Only customers.

Optional trip cancellation insurance.

Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, entry fees, and locally-paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather
The Azores have a maritime subtropical climate across all islands. Despite this apparently unstable weather conditions, temperatures are quite moderate throughout the year. The average temperature is a comfortable 17C/63ºF. Madeira is similar - strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream and Canary Current, giving mild year-round temperatures. The Canaries and Cape Verde are generally drier and hotter, from 15-28 C (60-80 F) at the time that we visit.

The key is to be prepared for a WIDE range of conditions. The time of our visit coincides with late spring when temperatures are relatively mild and rain increasingly unlikely as we approach summer. This and fall (Sept/Oct) are the best times to visit overall.

Transport and Travel Conditions
Generally-speaking, land transport will vary from place to place, possibly with a mini- or mid-sized coach depending on ultimate group size and coach availability. All land transport, however, will be air-conditioned.

Our tour rating #2 refers to the overall ambitious nature of the program and the great deal of moving around that we will be doing. Our sightseeing is not strenuous per se, but you must be steady on your feet and able to manage stairs/slopes and tour sites, some of which are large. We will have several walking tours of towns and cities and short walks to dinner. You will also need to be able to endure some full travel days and possibly some heat in some locations.

We have a couple of ferry crossings, though they are short. That said, however, swells can be considerable even in good weather.

Our internal air connections will likely be with Azores Airlines/SATA and Binter Canarias, who operate mostly Brazilian or Canadian-built turboprop aircraft with very limited space for cabin baggage.

Please note that the best way to fly to this tour is via Azores Airlines/Sata from/via either Toronto or Boston; home-bound you're likely looking at TAP via Lisbon. We regret if these isolated places present a challenge to those who are trying to redeem points or those who have very specific airline preferences, but this factor is not our primary consideration when developing this tour.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Accommodation
Our accommodation choices are based on location and are mostly of a 3- or 4-star standard (one is 5*). All are modern, clean, well-appointed, some with views and/or unique local atmosphere. All are air-conditioned and feature private bath, elevators, and baggage handling (though you need to be able to handle your own luggage, especially at airports/ferries).

Please click on "Map & Hotels" tab above for full details.

Staff and Support
Tour leader throughout, local step-on guides, drivers. For our May 2025 departure, senior Tour Leader, Jonathan Hodgson, will provide expert leadership start-to-finish.

Group Size
18 plus Tour Leader. For 2025 this tour has been assigned to senior Tour Leader Jonathan Hodgson.

Please note: Any advance notice/advertising regarding tour leadership assignation was accurate as of tour publishing date. Factors such as unforeseen placement challenges, illness/injury, personal/family obligations, and other logistical considerations may necessitate adjustments without notice or compensation.

 


 

Map & Hotels
Map & Hotels

Regions visited: Western Europe and West Africa
Countries visited: Portugal; Spain and Cabo Verde


*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Azoris Royal Garden
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Ponta Delgada
Country: Portugal
The Azoris Royal Garden is located on the largest island of the Azores, São Miguel, a stunning island where you can enjoy memorable experiences and unparalleled natural beauty. In the city of ... Delgada, a few meters from the historical center, the Azoris Royal Garden has a total of 193 rooms: 1 presidential suite, 3 family suites, 2 suites, 6 triple rooms, 37 executive rooms and 144 standard rooms. It also has 5 venues for meetings and events, offering services such as internet, video conferencing, and video and audio systems.
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São Miguel Park Hotel
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Ponta Delgada
Country: Portugal
This relaxed hotel is a 9-minute walk from the 16th-century Forte de Sao Bras de Ponta Delgada. Warmly furnished come with free Wi-Fi and cable TV, as well as sitting areas and ... most have furnished balconies.
Read More
Azoris Faial Garden
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Horta
Country: Portugal
The Azoris Faial Garden has the perfect concept for those who are looking for a holiday in the purest rest and tranquility of nature. With a stunning and privileged view over the ... and the Pico mountain, the admirable four-star hotel offers comfort and well-being to welcome its guests the best possible way. Located in the city of Horta, Faial Island, a 5-minute walk from the center and the marina, it has a total of 131 rooms in which 4 suites, 2 superior rooms, 26 ocean view executive rooms, and 99 standard rooms.
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Pousada de Angra do Heroísmo
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Angra do Heroísmo
Country: Portugal
The cliff-top hotel Sao Sebastiao in the Azores combines an historical setting with a luxurious modern decor and stunning views. Situated in a military fortress, which dates back to 1555, the Hotel ... Heroísmo is surrounded by high stone walls and although mostly ruins, two sentry posts and a turret of the original fortress still remain. Angra do Heroísmo was classed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.
Read More
Terra Nostra Garden Hotel
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Furnas
Country: Portugal
The Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, in Furnas, has been showing the best of Azorean Hospitality since 1935 and, since then, becamean iconic hotel in the Azores Islands. The hotel is also recognized ... the Garden’s thermal pool, an ex-libris of the Azores.

More than a hotel and a garden, it is a destination, an icon of São Miguel and the Azores, which provides unique and memorable experiences to those who visit us.
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Pestana Casino Park
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Funchal
Country: Portugal
A wonderful and quiet location for a great hotel with the most fantastic facilities you could wish for on your vacation or business trip. Just a few minutes walk away you will ... downtown Funchal, the various restaurants, bars, museums and different attractions to choose from. The hotel is part of the complex that includes the famous Madeira Casino and an auditorium/conference center.
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Hotel NH Imperial Playa
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Country: Spain
The NH Imperial Playa hotel sits right on the seafront opposite Las Canteras beach. It also puts you in easy reach of the local shops, restaurants and port. Plus Gran Canaria Airport ... only 20 minutes away by taxi. The 162 rooms have a classic-meets-contemporary feel. They come with modern comforts such as air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. All the Superior rooms get striking views across the bay and our Junior Suites have a private sea-view terrace.
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Hotel Colon Rambla
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Country: Spain
A nice hotel just located in the downtown of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, close to the García Sanabria Parc, the Ramblas areas and the Town Hall. Surrounded by a large garden where ... can enjoy our swimming pool in the heart of the city. The hotel has ample rooms provided with air conditioning, minibar, satellite TV, hair-drier, 100 MB free internet connection and terrace.
Read More

 


 

Gallery

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
01. What is the maximum number of participants on a trip?
Most of our tours carry a maximum of 18 participants; some tours (ie hiking tours) top out at 16. In the event that we do not achieve our minimum complement by our 60-day deadline, we may offer group members the option of paying a "small-group surcharge" as an alternative to cancellation. If all group members agree, we will confirm the trip at existing numbers; this surcharge is refundable in the event that we ultimately achieve our regular minimum. If the small group surcharge is not accepted, we will offer a refund of your deposit or a different trip of your choice.
02. Can I extend my tour either at the beginning or end? What about stopovers?
Yes, you can extend your tour either at the beginning or the end and we can book accommodation in our tour hotel. Stopovers are often permitted, depending on air routing. Stopovers usually carry a "stopover" fee levied by the airline.
03. How do I make a reservation? How and when do I pay?
The easiest way to make a reservation is via our website; during office hours, you are also more than welcome to contact us by telephone. A non-refundable deposit is payable at the time of booking; if a reservation is made within 60 days, full payment is required. Some trips require a larger deposit. If international airline bookings require a non-refundable payment in order to secure space or the lowest available fare, we will require an increase in deposit equal to the cost of the ticket(s). Early enrolment is always encouraged as group size is limited and some trips require greater preparation time. Once we have received your deposit, we will confirm your space and send you a confirmation package containing your trip itinerary, any visa/travel permit related documents, invoice, clothing and equipment recommendations, general information on your destination(s), and forms for you to complete, sign and return to us. Your air e-tickets (if applicable), final hotel list, final trip itinerary, and instructions on how to join your tour, will be sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.
04. What about cancellations, refunds, and transfers?
Please review our cancellation policy page for details.
05. I am a single who prefers my own room. What is a single supplement?
All of our tours have a single supplement for those who want to be guaranteed their own room at each location. This supplement is a reflection of the fact that most hotels around the world do not discount the regular twin-share rate for a room by 50% for only one person occupying a room. Most hotels will give a break on the price, but usually in the range of 25-30% of the twin-share rate. This difference, multiplied by each night, amounts to the single supplement. The conventional amount can also vary from country to country and some destinations are more expensive than others for single occupancy. In order to be "single friendly," the supplements we apply are not a profit centre for us and we do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible. On most tours we limit the number of singles available, not to be punitive, but rather because many hotels allow for only a limited number of singles; some smaller hotels at remote locations also have a limited number of single rooms available. Please note that most single rooms around the world are smaller than twin-share rooms and will likely have only one bed.
06. Do you have a shared accommodation program?
Yes! If you are single traveller and are willing to share, we will do our best to pair you with a same-gender roommate. On most of our tours, if we fail to pair you, we will absorb the single supplement fee and you will default to a single room at no extra charge. At some destinations, however, where single rooms are not significantly discounted, or not at all, we may apply a "mandatory" single in the event that we cannot find you a share partner. This is usually 50% of the usual supplement, but can be as much as 100%. If applicable, this proviso will be noted on each tour page on this website, on your invoice, and in our tour date/price book (available for download under "Resources").

 

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Countries Visited: 3

Portugal; Spain; Cabo Verde.
Activity Level: 2

These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.
Tour Style: Cultural

These three- and four-star hotel-based, "soft adventure" trips concentrate on the culture, history, and natural attributes of our destination. Though there are no strenuous activities built into these tours, you need to be prepared for some full days with some early starts, plenty of walking on uneven surfaces through villages, cities and archaeological sites, and not a lot of "down time." Independence, reasonable fitness, and an ability to be steady on one's feet are critical in order for you to get the most out of these programs.
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