The Azores | Waterfalls & Views
Rounding up my Azores blog posts, today I'm sharing my photos from the last two days I spent on the island of Sao Miguel. Bar a disappointing phone call cancelling the whale watching trip we had lined up for our final day, I constantly had a grin on my face as the scenery became more and more spectacular with every corner that we drove around. Sao Miguel is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been with its luscious green landscapes.
A storm hit on the Sunday, bringing ridiculously strong winds (see my hair all over the place in the photos below) and the occasional sprinkle of rain. The micro-climates on the island meant that standing on the cliff tops by the coast had me pulling on a jumper while just a 15 minute drive inland had me stripping it back off and basking in the humidity.
Our first stop that day was Che Gorreana, the only tea plantation in Europe! We took a quick tour of the factory, viewing how the islanders still make the tea the traditional way and sampling a cup of both the green and black tea that is made there. Outdoors, I braved the wind to wander among the tea plants. If you visit, ensure that you cross the road to admire the more impressive landscapes that undulate on the hills. Having never visited a tea plantation before, it sparked similarities to photos I'd seen of rice paddies somewhere like Bali.
Heading further east and inland, we sought out Parque Natural da Ribeira dis Caldeiroes not really expecting much. As we drove around the corner and caught a glimpse of this paradise, my jaw dropped. Yes, it was incredibly manicured but the fusion of the greenery and the waterfalls instantly impressed. We spent some time wandering along the little paths, up and down steps, taking photos and admiring the scenery. The big waterfall was easily the most dramatic feature, but we also enjoyed the walking routes on the other side of the road, watching gorge scramblers explore the river below.
The weather not on our side, we decided to drive along the coastal road all the way around the island back to our hotel. The drive was a long one, mainly because we stopped at almost every view point to leap out of the car and admire the dramatic landscapes. The road on the east coast winds and hairpins along the cliff edge, offering views as you drive and occasionally dipping further inland. The low cloud and stormy seas actually contributed to making the views even more spectacular.
On our last day, we headed back towards Caldiera Velha to hike to a waterfall that we hadn't yet visited. It was a short walk down a steep hill that the few other people we encountered seemed to be driving down instead. We preferred to take it slowly and admire the scenery, taking a small detour to climb onto the rocks by the shore of a river. The waterfall itself was relatively small, trickling from the cliffs above, but the walk was worth it!
Finally, watching the cloud on the horizon begin to dissipate, we decided to have one last go at admiring the view of Sete Cicades that the mist had thwarted earlier on the trip. We were rewarded for our efforts by a staggering view of the crater lakes where we could finally make out the shape of the crater itself! It wasn't quite the image we'd seen on the postcards, but it was definitely worth the drive up the mountain!
After five days exploring the small island, it was time to pack up and leave (after one final meal at Tasca, our favourite restaurant in Ponta Delgada). Despite the disappointment of our whale watching trip getting cancelled, Sao Miguel is definitely somewhere that I would recommend travelling to - especially if you're looking to explore part of Europe that is relatively untouched by tourism.
All photos my own