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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Trek the Volcanic Islands of the Azores


3. What to Do

Hike to Salta do Prego's waterfall in scenic São Miguel.   

Follow a local naturalist on a four-hour trek along São Miguel’s dirt roads, lined with Japanese cedars and hydrangeas (Country Walkers offers Azores tours starting September 4). The hike includes a plunge in the hot geothermal tidal pools at Ponta da Ferraria, a visit to the Goreanna Tea Plantation, and a swim under the cool Salto do Prego waterfall.

Set off on a three-hour hike from the nineteenth-century town of Furnas to the Lagoa das Furnas, the highest lake above sea level, where locals pot-cook traditional meat dishes called cozido das furnas over the geothermal steam rising from cracks in the earth. Follow the rim of the lake until you reach the late Gothic-style Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, an ornate, seventeenth-century chapel. Afterward, reward yourself with a steamed corncob from one of the Furnas street vendors.

Conquer the 2,351-meter, eight-hour round-trip trek to Mount Pico, an active volcano and the tallest mountain in Portugal (Futurismo, $167/day; guides are mandatory). Climb past acacia, laurel, and Australian cheesewood forests before funneling into Prainha Forest Park, surrounded by moss-covered lava walls. The trail empties out at Baía de Canas, a small basalt rock beach ideal for a post-hike swim.

Published on Aug 26, 2010 as a web exclusive.

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