The Pico Island is synonymous of whales, volcanic wines, and the highest mountain in Portugal. This guide takes you takes you through to the secrets of the second largest island of the Azores.
This itinerary is part of a trip to the Azores for 10 days and 5 were spent in Faial and Pico and the rest were spent in São Miguel.
The Pico Island has to highest mountain in Portugal. Only this is a reason enough to take a trip to the Azores and climb to the top of Portugal. However its interest not ends with the mountain. There are also vineyards enveloped in walls of volcanic stone and the observation of whales and dolphins, their people and their nature constantly shrouded by a mist that sometimes descends from the mountain, sometimes only there but accompanies us on the horizon throughout the day.
Faial still maintains that aura of wilderness to be discovered, although it is now much easier to reach these islands in the central group and are already much more developed, offering huge options for local accommodation and activities for visitors. However its bucolic silence and its intense colors, made up of various shades of green, the blue of the sea and the black of the rocks, merge into a sweeping voyage of senses.
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Madalena, the observation of whales and dolphins
We arrived at Pico Island by boat at Madalena. We had been here at 7 years and the village now it's more beautiful and developed, but it remains a picturesque. Next to the port of Madelena there are several kiosks where you can rent whale watching.
Any of the companies will provide an interesting tour to see Whales and also Dolphins. At the beginning a presentation is made of what will be found and will be demystified some ideas about what could possibly be visualized. After a few hours in the sea we return to the village of Madalena.
Wine and the village of São Roque do Pico
The afternoon was dedicated to the Unesco Protected Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard. Between Madalena and Areia Larga you can take a walking tour in this natural landscape and can visit the Wine Cooperative of Pico Island. However, we chose to walk along the sea-side roads between Madalena and the village São Roque do Pico, knowing not only the landscape of the Vineyard but also all the small places and the small swimming pools that we found. Near Madalena we pass by the Barca place where is the well known Cella Bar for yours magnificent architecture in wood and its small beach. The road continues with a black rock to surround us, the sea on one side and of course, the vines on the other. The road will pass through several small pools, created in the midst of volcanic rocks, small villages and hamlets. The Dog (cachorro) is one place you need to stop. Here there is a small rock formation that gives the name to this place, but also interesting volcanic formations on the sea. Our tour continues to São Roque, where there are several points of interest and follows to the parish of Prainha where there is one of several forest parks with typical houses, playground, excellent places for snacks, viewpoints overlooking Sao Jorge island and some animals to see.
Lajes do Pico
Our second day in Pico island was dedicated to the other side of the island. We headed towards to Lajes do Pico village. Just near Madalena we stop and visit the "Gruta das Torres" that it's a lava tube with 5150m length where you will find stalactites and stalagmites. After this visit and continuing towards in direction of the Lajes we passed through São Mateus and stopped at the Recreation Forest Reserve of the Mystery of São João. This is another park of snacks located in an area of the island that is more recent. The various "Mysteries" in Pico are areas where the soil has been added in a more recent eruption and the soil is more volcanic and black.
In Lajes do Pico, besides the village that deserves a walking in is streets, the Baleeiros Museum needs a visit. This is the quintessential whaling village and is now also a place where you can rent the tours to see the Whales and Dolphins. To finish the day, you bathe in the swimming pool on the village called Baía do Castelete. In the village there are still some options for dinner.
Ascent to the Pico Mountain and Central Zone of the Island
The third day was reserved to the ascent to the mountain of Pico. Fortunately, the day dawned without clouds, and the mountain remained almost all day (which is rare) without clouds. We choose to make the visit with guides, but we can do without guide. However, the number of people on the mountain is restricted and we were informed that if we had not opted for the guide, by 5:00 am the amount of people who could climb without a guide was hit already. For this reason the Mountain House (where the registers are made and were is given the authorization to start the climb) was full of people waiting for someone descend to start is ascendind.
After making the presentations with the guide and the group, the climb begins with a few steps and from there, it is only a path with a lot of rock and a large accumulated climb. Worth the persistence, the resilience and the landscape that surrounds us. Along the trail, we find 47 posts, which mark the route to avoid getting lost. With increasing altitude the temperature and the weather will vary. We were fortunate to be a clean day that allowed us to enjoy the unspeakable beauty of the mountain and the island of Pico. Arriving at the crater is time to rest, take pictures and climb to Piquinho (highest point).
Returned to Mountain House we drived through the central part of the island. We visited the small lagoons like the Lagoa do Capitão and Lagoa do Caiado. There are more but we did not have the opportunity to visit them.
Ponta da ilha
On this last day we could not miss the other part of the island. From Lajes do Pico to the Lighthouse of Ponta da Ilha there is a small swimming pool that will stay in our memory. You can not pass through this side of the island without going to Calheta do Nesquim and descending to the Pojas das Mujas. In this natural pool you can also enjoy one slide that delights the little ones. The water is so transparent that we easily have the sensation of swimming inside an aquarium full of fish. Here there is also a beach support that will serve meals.
To finish our day we cross the road in the middle of the black lava, to the Lighthouse. Nondescript landscape. It's time to go back, pack up all stuffs and pick up the little SATA planes to São Miguel Island.
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