24th to 29th June 2019:
Gardens & landscapes of the island of São Miguel Hosted by David Wheeler, editor of HORTUS and led by Gerald Luckhurst
The Archipelago of the Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal, situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, 950 miles west of Lisbon. Discovered in the 1430s by Henry the Navigator, settlement on the island of São Miguel, began in 1444. Made up of nine volcanic islands divided into three groups, the eastern group includes São Miguel, the largest of all the islands: verdant, volcanic, and very beautiful with giant volcanic crater lakes, sheer sea cliff walls, waterfalls, and hot springs. We stay at The Terra Nostra Garden Hotel set in the famous gardens of that name, and at the new and vibrant Hotel Azor ,with spectacular views of the busy harbour of Ponta Delgada and the great ocean beyond.
Day 1: Monday 24 June
Depart at 10:35 from London Gatwick Airport on flight TP339, arriving in Lisbon Airport at 13:15; depart Lisbon at 16:45 on TP1863 arriving in Ponta Delgada at 18:10. Transfer by coach to the Terra Nostra Hotel with time to settle in before eating together at the hotel restaurant with Portuguese wines included. Furnas, with its luxurious growth and healing springs, has been an attraction to islanders and discerning visitors for many years. There are numerous hot springs, fumaroles and natural warm swimming pools throughout the small town including the Ochre mineral rich thermal lake next to the hotel. The effect of warmth and humidity on vegetation is the reason for the success of the renowned Terra Nostra Gardens.
Day 2: Tuesday 25 June
We walk out of the hotel directly into the Terra Nostra Gardens in the company of the charming and energetic Carina Costa who works side by side with her knowledgeable father to manage their garden to perfection. We find beautifully tended camellias, fine collections of cycads, palms, native flora; bromeliads, orchids, the bluest of hydrangeas and over 300 different species of ferns including an abundance of luxuriating tree ferns. A picnic lunch is included today on the banks of the Lagoa das Furnas followed by a walk around the José do Canto Woodland garden with the great grand-daughter to José do Canto (1820-1898) who also established the botanical garden in Ponta Delgada. A cultured wealthy man and nature lover, he established his Furnas garden in the mid-19th century by planting into the existing woods, creating walkways, a chapel, boathouse and lakeside summerhouse. The most stunning feature is the Fern Glade along with camellia walkways and magnificent trees. Return to Terra Nostra Hotel where we dine together in the restaurant with Portuguese wines included.
Day 3: Wednesday 26 June
Leaving Furnas, we drive to the north coast past tea plantations to a private Quinta that still has the original layout of intricate orange terracing. We lunch in a local café before continuing around the coast to visit Casa del Falésia, the home of Amorita and Luis Filipe Mota, who have invited us to view their flower-filled garden and to share the stunning view in the coastal village of Mosteiros, named after the church shape of the dramatic islets viewed just off the coast. Drive past Caldeira das Sete Cidades (Caldera of the seven towns), where – according to legend – seven towns founded by expelled Spanish bishops, sank. The green and the blue lakes of Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul resulted from a volcanic eruption in 1445. Continue to Ponta Delgada where we check-in at the Azor Hotel before eating together in the hotel restaurant with fine views of the harbour and the ocean beyond.
Day 4: Thursday 27 June
In Ponta Delgada, José do Canto employed a British architect and gardeners create, implement and maintain the gardens. The inheritance is in his surviving trees now matured into magnificent specimens. The Azores comprise an ecosystem of unique features and waters rich in fish: a renowned region for whales. An afternoon whale-spotting trip is optional and subject to local weather conditions. This evening is free to try out one of the local restaurants or to eat at the hotel.
Day 5: Friday 28 June
Quinta do Bom Despacho (House of Good Tidings) sits on the outskirts of Ponta Delgada and is now run as a sustainable guest house. The gardens are managed on the principals of permaculture and the energetic owner will show us around. A delicious picnic lunch is included today before visiting a private garden where the traditional productive enclosures merge with a contemporary designed garden and house that is open to the elements with views across the wide ocean. We return to Azor Hotel for pre-dinner drinks in the roof-top bar before dining together, Portuguese wines included.
Day 6: Saturday 29 June
This morning we visit the gardens of a fine working estate situated on a hill looking down to Ponta Delgada. We return to Ponta Delgada Airport for flight S4540 departing at 14:55, arriving at London Gatwick at 19:40.
HORTUS goes to the Azores
How much & what’s included:
The price per person: £3290
A single supplement of £300 is levied by the hotel.
The price includes: two nights bed & breakfast at Terra Nostra Hotel, Furnas; three nights bed & breakfast at Azor Hotel, Ponta Delgada; plus four evening meals, three lunches and return flights from London Gatwick Airport to Ponta Delgada. The price does not include extras at the hotel or travel insurance. Please note that, due to flight times, we change in Lisbon on the outbound flight with TAP but return direct from Ponta Delgada to London Gatwick with SATA. If you wish to arrange your own flights, please notify at time of booking and telephone to discuss your preferred joining arrangements and we will be happy to deduct £320 per person from the tour price. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate.