martes, 11 de septiembre de 2012

The Azores – Sete Cidades And A Full On Day Of Beauty And Wonder

Heading over to the Western end of Sao Miguel, Azores I came to the rim of the Sete Cidades crater. One of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal, I got up there, looked down, and being speechless in my head I screamed WOW! I have seen many many super landscapes and views in my life. This was up there in the ‘you really gotta see this with your own eyes’ group.

A huge and wide and deep almost circular crater about 5km across created through thousands and thousands of years of volcanic activity and collapses, now dormant. The Land of 7 Cities as known the first thing that strikes you is are the lakes especially the large one that stands out way below you. The colours are immense, you can see how the lake has locally been split into blue lake and green lake. The light, greenery and reflection play their parts in creating a stunning prism of a view.

From the highest point on the rim you can stand, one way looking across and down into the beauty of the crater or look East away from the crater and the rest of Sao Miguel lays before you (below). If you was following my live activities and pictures on Twitter then you can now see how I managed to do such a variety of things such as dolphin watching, a hike, a view and a geothermal swim all in one day… These islands have it all… and never far away from each other.

There is a track that runs all around the crater, perfect for escape and views, some even cycle round. If by car then 4×4 is only way. Of course the adventure does not stop up here, get down into the bottom of the crater and the sense of awe does not stop. Picnic on the edge of the lake, wander through the village and see the way of life in here. The abundance of green set against a rich blue sky has you looking around mesmerised.

It is hard to describe how quiet it was. Being on an island you never get the mad mad crowds. The water lapping on the edges inviting us on with our kayaks. My guide Nuno (below), from Futurismo, has a justified passion for this place, he was off and paddling in a flash, calm water kayaking in paradise.

Aside from the main lake there are others to explore. Up in the higher reaches of this area are hidden gems. Below is the Lake of Santiago, describing it as green beauty does not do it justice. Steep tree-lined slopes heading down into the deep green water. Unique feast for the eyes!

Back out on the crater rim and suddenly a traffic jam… goats chilling in the Azores sun

Of course the slopes from the rim outwards are features from the volcanic past, now leading to the ocean. For centuries these areas have been managed to gorgeous green pastures. These cows get a view and a half eh?

On the coast outside of the crater, way on the West of Sao Miguel is a totally theraputic experience to wash away a good hard days walking maybe, Ferraria Thermal and naturally geothermal heated ‘ocean’ water. Backdrop of the sea, set about volcanic rocks, waves lapping warm water over you as you swim….. Truly magical, I didn’t want to get out.

Alas, it was time for dinner, and what a dinner it turned out to be. Eating a wonderfully large and perfect steak at the Caloura Hotel, watching the sun go down on a day I will never forget.

Credits: Baldhiker.
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