Azores & Madeira: Portugal's Unspoiled Archipelagos

Day 08 - Monday, April 17, 2023 - Lagoa das Setes Cidades; Dairy Cattle Farm

As is our usual routine, we began with breakfast at the hotel. The day was sunny but cool and we could see boats going out of the harbor for a day’s sailing.

We took a bag of laundry to the front desk. Henrique has a connection with a person in town who will do laundry for us for 3 Euros per kilo. Even though we have been washing a few things each night, it is good to get jeans and other heavier pieces done professionally.

At 9:00 our group was divided into three so we could join the Greenzone Tours for a 4x4 Land Rover tour of the north western region of the island. Our driver, Marion gave us a brief history of the island where he has lived for his life. He also explained that the Azores and São Miguel in particular, was an important stop in the Atlantic Ocean for migratory birds.

As we climbed the narrow-paved roads, we saw the famous hydrangea bushes lining the ditches. They will be in full bloom in June, a palette of pinks, purples, and blues. Marion told us that the dairy farmers used the hydrangea bushes as fences because the cattle will not eat the leaves.

Our destination for the morning was the volcanic crater of Sete Cidades and the Blue and Green Lakes. We made several stops along the way to view the valleys below along with the over 200 volcanoes and the geologic triple junction where three tectonic plates intersect.

An incredible discovery were the many aqueducts built in the 1600’s to carry water from the highlands down to the villages of the coast. The vines, moss, and vegetation completely covered the double arched waterway.

Marion reminded us how lucky we were to have such a clear day for our adventure. The temperature was 49 degrees, the humidity was 90%, and the wind was only 12 mph. He thanked us for bringing the sunshine.

After climbing to the top, we actually drove along the rim of the caldera as we traveled to the other side. The rugged off-road trails were only wide enough for one vehicle and the drop off was over 250 feet, scary!

While we were enjoying the Queen’s Overlook, the dense fog began to roll over the crater and within five minutes, the lake and valley below were totally obscured. Back in the Land Rover, Marion explained the specific accents of the people of the Azores Archipelago. He said that even in São Miguel, the northern people speak a different dialect than in the south.

Down into the lake level of the caldera, we stopped at the little village of Lagoa das Sete Cidades. We were able to use the restrooms and walk around the town. We visited the Green Lake and the Blue Lake. There is a legend that says the lakes were formed by the tears of two young lovers, but the science says it is the depth of the lakes that determines the color of blue and green lakes.

We visited several more of the crater lakes, Lake Santiago and then Canary Lake, a marshland area supplying Ponta Delgado with fresh water.

Returning to the city, we arrived at 1:15 and spent a few minutes in our room before meeting the group again at 2:30 for the rest of the afternoon and early evening at a small dairy farm on the island. Gena, João, and their hired hand Erico welcomed us to Amago Wellness Farm, their small family-owned milk production.

Gena gave us an overview of the operation and João explained the challenges of trying to compete with the large dairy conglomerates. A few of our fellow travelers helped João and Erico milk the cows the old-fashioned way and then we observed the modern milking machine process.

It was after 7:00 when we left the farm. On the way back to Ponte Delgado, we stopped at a supermarket and were able to buy a few things for our dinner.

By 8:15 we were back in our room ready to sort through hundreds of photos from our day. As Gennie finished the journal, we had our evening snacks, and were able to spend a little time reflecting on our busy day.

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Azores & Madeira: Portugal's Unspoiled Archipelagos
Henrique da Camara


We went in July when the hydrangeas were in full bloom. Many were taller than the average person!

Mary Kerstein   April 19, 2023 - 6:36pm

The aqueduct picture is so beautiful & reminds me of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Everything sounds enchanting!

Becky Richardson   April 18, 2023 - 10:25pm

Hydrangea bushes instead of barbed wire fencing! The farmers and ranchers in my family would have a hard time believing that!

Susan Phillips   April 18, 2023 - 3:36am

Wow, 200 volcanoes! It certainly is beautiful scenery!

Carol Larson   April 18, 2023 - 2:44am
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1600’s Aqueduct

1600’s Aqueduct

Sete Cidades Overlook

Sete Cidades Overlook

Rim of the Caldera

Rim of the Caldera

Gena and João

Gena and João

Holstein Milk Cows

Holstein Milk Cows

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Day 13: Azores & Madeira: Portugal's Unspoiled Archipelagos

Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.

The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.

Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...

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