In the middle of nowhere–the Azores

The 9 little islands of the Azores are quite obviously in the middle of nowhere. Just in between the shipping route from Europe to North America they are silently existing there as rocky volcanic outcrops to be discovered. For us nowadays their existence is mainly associated with the weather pattern which was named after them – the “Azores High Pressure System”, which technically is not starting or produced here, but due to lack of any other land for some 1,500 km around that was the closest spot to name it for Smiley.

Our journey started on the 7th with a flight via Lisboa to the biggest island San Miguel. After arrival it was rather soon obvious that the latitude of the islands will have a huge impact on our hiking activities – it is cloudy (almost always), it is humid (very), it warm (quite…9 and the sun is brutal… To have a UV index between 7 and 10 is normal und the temperature is between 19 and 26°. Yet combined with 70 – 90% humidity this is a real tropics feeling…

Out hotel is very nicely arranged on top of a bay and has gorgeous sea-views


It must be rather frightening to see the see on a stormy day…


Every bit an piece of land is used for farming and agriculture, so most patches are walled away behind basalt to protect them from the wind


Very typical… Succulent with thorns Smiley


And one of the famous bushes here…


As Mary Ascension is on the 15th August and we are in a rather strong catholic country, all churches outdo themselves to shine and sparkle… The illumination is a bit strong for our liking, but if they wan to have it that way…


Due to the exceptional good weather we headed to the highest peak of the island (which is nearly always in clouds…) to make a small afternoon stroll. The road there got rather patchy and driving on basalt is fun (it’s quite soft and has extreme grip – yet if you need to break it’s sloshing…)


The island beneath our feet…


And some less inhabited parts


A fellow hiker…


It is rather cloudy, a bit wet, chilly when the wind gusts, and scorching if it dies… All climates within 5 min… So you rather need loads of layers to compensate that


As the clouds here on the islands usually only extend to 1,500 m altitude they are caught at the highest point where we are now at 1,100 m


The original forest which used to be mid-sized laurel and juniper trees were cut down but the old settlers for most parts and in the lower ranges replaced with imported species. So around the only places to discover the original vegetation would be around here


A laurel in bloom


One species who likes the climate for sure is the moss Smiley


Different forms, different sizes


But all beautiful and marvellous


Everything is based on old lava which makes it quite slippery


When lava is fluffy (basalt) and erodes it becomes a clay like substance which sticks to anything, everywhere and doesn’t go away anymore Smiley


A beauty at the roadside


Reaching the top it’s a contemplative process… Will the clouds open or not Zwinkerndes Smiley


As you can see you can’t see a lot…


But it is peaceful and very interesting to look at the swirling clouds


As they just suddenly open up and you have the most astounding views


Getting brighter by the second a get covered again when the next fluffy white thing rushes over you


We made it Zwinkerndes Smiley



On the way downhill you see another intrusive species of the islands – ginger…


grows like mad, loves the climate and is everywhere


At the end of the day we went down to the see on a rather steep path which caused us some deliberate headache afterwards as our nice little car simply did not have enough power to get the engine into enough motion for the upward drive… It took us quite some time to make it to the top again and Ursula even had to walk – so be warned… Small cars with small engines have their limits…


The valley was an old volcanic outflow



with a nice basin and waterfall at the top


In the very end they tried to extend it – to no avail… Smiley


Tomorrow afternoon we are heading to Flores – our next island…


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