Portugal, Azores - Faial
A volcanic eruption created nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic. - the green peaks of gigantic underwater mountain.
The highest volcano is more than 2000 meters (6,500 ft) tall. The younger earth consists of black lava and the older earth supports a green wilderness. This is a geologically unique place in Europe. The sea is filled with lots of different species, including the world’s largest mammal that often swims just 1600 feet away. In ancient times, the locals were whalers and you can still see remnants of the old whaling harbors, canoes, factories and there are lots of legends around this large mammal.
One of the largest islands in the Azores is Faial, which has about 15,000 inhabitants. Faial offers every shade of green you can find in nature's palette, with tropical wilderness and desert-like landscape. This is where your hosts, Anja and Victor, have their base with its fine accommodation and beloved horses.
You will ride on small paths, over green meadows and through tropical forests – an extraordinary nature experience. Great emphasis is also placed on the food, so your taste buds will also be satisfied.
For the two trail rides, you will stay on the farm every night. During July and August (some dates), there is also a little more adventurous ride where you explore Faial for a week and spend the nights in tents.
You will stay in the new opened Lodge with double- and single-rooms (extra) with private bathroom, lounge and beautiful garden. The house is a real oasis of calm, design and comfort, surrounded by gardens and meadows with horses. The house is built out of black volcanic stones and Japanese cedar wood in a local and traditional style. From all rooms and terrace you have a great view to the Atlantic Ocean and to three neighborhood islands. In the evening you will have dinner in the lounge made by our Azores Chef in front of the open fire place or on the outside terrace.
Singles: It is possible to book a single room (price for single supplement available under Dates & Prices). If there is no one to share a room with, a single supplement will be added.
Safe deposit box: No
Hair Dryer: Yes to borrow
Towels and sheets: Yes
Experience the Azorean winter high. Enjoy the incredible nature in the sub-tropical winter. Relaxed horse-trails on a dreamlike island. Unwind in the cozy horseman's lodge in front of the open fireplace. Experience the firework in the Bay of Horta. The whole variety of the Azores Island Faial you will discover on this special end of the year Horse-Trail. Thousands of miles away from home you can celebrate Happy New Year in the Atlantic.
New Years trail the 27th December - 3rd January. 5 days riding, 4-5 hours per day, 500-900 metres difference in altitude.
1. Day: Traveler defined day of arrival Arrival at Faial (Airport Horta – HOR), transfer to accommodation and first contact with the horses. Communal dinner. Overnight.
2. Day: Trail to the old lighthouse Farol da Ribeirinha Today’s ride passes though deserted countryside. We might pass occasionally farmers on their way to his cattle. The Atlantic Ocean sparkles in the sunlight. We will enjoy to picnic at the Cabouco Forest Park. At the fireplace we do a barbecue and will drink hot punch. After cantering past hedges of hydrangea bushes we reach the old Lighthouse Farol da Ribeirinha with impressive views of the volcano Pico. The day winds down with a delicious supper at the Lodge.
3. Day: Trail to the mystic area of Capelo The trail follows small paths along the coast to the highest village of the island, Ribeira Funda. Beautiful views into the valley with buzzards circling in the wind on the hunt for day bats. At the viewpoint, the picnic is waiting for us. The path leads steep up into the mountains. Great views over the Atlantic. In canter we approach the mystical zone, Zona Mistério do Capelo. In the afternoon we reach the todays paddock - The Jungle Camp - for our horses. We drive back to our lodge where dinner is already waiting for us.
4. Day: Trail to the sleeping volcano of Capelinhos Today’s trail leads us to the impressive and bizarre volcanic desert landscape of Capelinhos. This deserted landscape has already been the set of several science fiction movies. We pass ruins of old houses buried with ash from the volcano’s last eruption in 1957. The highly acclaimed underground Volcano Museum is located underneath the lighthouse, buried with ash from the eruption. We ride over volcanic ash and enjoy a break close to a small volcanic cave. A long canter around the green volcano Cabeço Verde takes us back to our horses’ paddock. The night ends with great food and drinks at our Lodge.
5. Day: Sailors-Town Horta and Happy New Year Today rest our horses. We use the Year End Day for an excursion to Horta Town. A tour of the city shows us the highlights of this picturesque and small harbour town. At the end of the tour we might drink a gin-tonic in the world-famous sailors bar, Peter Café Sport. In the early afternoon we drive back to our lodge. Time to relax. In the evening we go back to town and enjoy in a cozy restaurant a Happy New Year Dinner and later on the firework in the Bay of Horta.
6. Day: Trail to the Fajã Bay Today we arrive at the black beach of Fajã Bay. After a beautiful canter in a wonderful eucalyptus forest we follow the steep trail down to Fajã Bay. This uniquely beautiful location is home of vineyards, gardens and wildly romantic places. Today’s ride is a little bit shorter, and gives us time to relax at the Lodge or to walk along the coast in the afternoon.
7. Day: Trail to the old whale watching point Vigia dos Cedros This is the last day of our trail. We cross the island from the dry south to the green north, enjoying views over terraced meadows down to the blue ocean. At lunchtime we arrive again at Ribeira Funda. We move closer and closer to our final destination. We pass the old whale watching point Vigia dos Cedros and complete our trail, returning to the Lodge with our horses. In the Lounge the Cedar tree is decorated and we enjoy the Azores Christmas dinner.
8. Day: Departure Day After breakfast we offer an airport transfer for departure, or you can decide on an individual extension to your stay.
Price for double room 1389 EUR, single room supplement 228 EUR. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for booking.
Ability description: Trail ride, level 2-3 >>
Included in the price: Transfer, 7 nights, riding according to program, all meals, at lunch mostly picnic or Saddlebag -Picnic incl. selected drinks. At dinner typical Azorean cuisine incl. table wine and water.
Not included: Flights, drinks and extras not mentioned. Entry to the museum and guided tour of the volcano. Insurance.
Travel: Book flight/rental car >>
Fly to Faial (Horta) via Lisbon. Alternatively, with charter flights to Ponta Delgada and domestic flight to Horta.
Transfer: Book in advance with HorseXplore
You will be met at the airport, transfer included in the price.
Season: Low season, January-March, November - December. Middle Season, April - May, September - October. High Season June - August.
The horses: Mainly Lusitanos and Lusitano crosses.
Single room: Can be booked with a supplement. For price click on ”Book on request” under Dates & prices.
Credit card: Yes accepted at riding center, VISA and Master Card.
Tipping: Not required but appreciated, about 20 EUR.
Age limit: Weekly trails 16 years old.
Child discount: Under 12 years old half price on meals, under 3 years old free lodging.
Closest village: The riding center is in the village Cedros, to bigger village 20 minutes by car.
Beach: Normally you bath in rock pools by the sea.
Riding equipment to borrow: No
Saddle bag available: Yes
Special diet: Inform when booking.
November-December, April and May, these months are really best for trail riding. Nice mild temperature (13-20°C). Sun and little showers alternate. The morning might be cloudy and the afternoon is full of sun. On one side of the island the weather is rainy; on the other side the glorious blue sky creates a pure pleasure day. The horses love that kind of weather and they like to show their full power.
The summer arrives in May and last until October. The maximum temperature can be 29ºC. There is very seldom rain and wind. The days are long and at night you listen to the chirp of the cricket and can watch the starlit sky. Best time to travel to the Azores!