Saturday, 18 June 2016

Azores - A Day Trip Around Faial

Hi everyone,
On Tuesday we rented a scooter and explored the island of Faial.  It was great fun driving around the island.  Very scenic.  Lots of flowers.  Lots of spectacular views.  We finished the day by walking the 8km caldera rim of the island's main volcano.

View of the neighbouring island of Pico with its impressive volcano
Before describing the island here are several photos from around Horta.

Yacht paintings around the periphery of the harbour
and on the sea wall
Horta town hall
From Horta we drove around the island "clockwise".  Our first stop was at Morro do Castelo Branco, an impressive volcanic trachyte dome covered by pyroclastic rocks (so sayeth the brochure!).  We had a nice walk down to the point, past small farming fields separated by tall bamboo hedges.

Morro do Castelo Branco
Our next stop was at Ponta dos Capelinhos, the site of a 1957 volcanic eruption which extended the island westward and "moved" the lighthouse inland.  The whole area is a "moonscape".  A visitor centre has been constructed, buried in the volcanic dust field.

Ponta dos Capelinhos
The old lighthouse
Underground visitor centre
From Ponta dos Capelinhos we drove along the north coast.  By this time the cloud was clearing and we started to see the true colours of the island.  The vegetation is lush to say the least.  Lots of happy cattle grazing.

Typical roadside view
View from the hills above Horta
The drive up to the rim of the caldera was fun.  It was distinctly chillier than at sea level.  At the top we decided to walk right around it.  The walk is described as "difficult" but it's really not.  At 8km it is a good workout, especially considering the ups and downs along the way.  But it is certainly worth the effort - the views are spectacular.

View of the volcano on Pico Island over that on Faial
Typical view down towards the coast
Alpine strawberries just starting to appear
The vegetation around the rim includes cedars, junipers, myrtles, ferns and mosses.

Along the way around the island we stopped at several cafes and a restaurant for lunch.  The local people are very friendly and many speak good English.  Food is extremely cheap.

It was a fun day.  A few blisters but definitely worthwhile!

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