Riding: No riding.
Arrive on one of the most attractive Azorean islands into Horta airport. You will be transferred by land rover to your accommodation at the lodge. You can meet the horses and have a brief introduction about the trail for the week ahead before enjoying a typical Azorean dinner at the Quinta.
Day 2 - History of Whales
Riding: 20 kilometres
Today starts by learning about whales and their history on the island of Faial. You are then introduced to your horse and your equipment before setting out on the trail. Start on gently rising meadow paths and after a short time, you begin the first trot and canter. Your destination is a whale watching point, where with a little luck and when the sea is calm, you can see whales and dolphins. Return to the lodge along the steep coast where a delicious lunch is waiting for you.
In the afternoon you ride to two small whaling harbours. If the weather is good, you can swim here. Leave the horses for the night in a small hamlet and transfer back to the lodge for a drink at the bar before dinner.
Day 3 - Lighthouse Trail and Horta
Riding: 14 kilometres
Today you can learn about the impact of the 1998 earthquake on Faial. You are transferred to the horses early in the morning and start your trail by riding along the coast through blue hydrangea hedges. Reach the island's former lighthouse, which was destroyed in the earthquake - the nearby village still has a crumbling church that testifies to the power of the earthquake. Around noon you reach the horses rest area where there is time for a saddlebag picnic.
You are then transferred to the town of Horta. In high season (April-October) you will meet a team of marine biologists and set out with them to the ocean in a powerfully motorised zodiac boat. More than 30 different whales and dolphins can be encountered in the ocean surrounding Faial. It is a wonderful experience to be so close to the largest mammals in the world.
If the weather is poor for whale watching, and in low season (Nov-Mar) you will instead discover this colourful and cosmopolitan port town. Walk along the sailing harbour and find secluded spots in the town. Maybe stop for a gin and tonic in the famous Peter Café Sport Bar?
In the evening you are transferred back to the lodge, where dinner is waiting for you.
Day 4 - Caldeira of Faial
Riding: 30 kilometres
Another early start today as you head to one of the top highlights of the Azores, Faial’s crater, the Caldeira. It is located at an altitude of over 1,000m in the centre of the island and is a real challenge for rider and horse. Sometimes you will meet farmers along the way with their cows. The Heather trees along your route look like giant broccoli and the Atlantic Ocean glitters in the sun. You slowly ride up to the crater rim via switchback tracks until eventually reaching the 400m deep and 2,500m wide crater. (If you want to extend your trail vacation, you can descend into the depths of the crater with a nature park guide on a different day and at extra cost).
After the saddlebag picnic you ride through the lonely and wild landscape of the high mountains. Your trail leads over farm roads and down to a small volcano whose inner crater you can reach on foot through a small tunnel. A very special atmosphere awaits you in this tunnel.
In the late afternoon you arrive at the Jungle Camp where you leave the horses. The transfer to the lodge is already waiting for you and you return to well-earned dinner.
Day 5 - Faja Bay
Riding: 17 kilometres
Faja-Bay is a hidden bay where the islanders have grown wine and fruit for 500 years. On your way there you pass small adegas, which are local wine houses with their vineyards. Riding through dense jungle you reach the black lava beach of Fajã Bay - a magical, romantic world of its own. Small lava stone houses, well-tended gardens and a wild sea await you and your saddlebag picnic area is right by the sea.
A wonderful canter takes you back to the jungle camp in the afternoon. Today, like every evening, there is a thematic dinner that allows you to sample the tasty cuisine of the Azores.
Day 6 - Capelinhos Volcano
Riding: 20 kilometres
Today the trail leads through a mystical jungle landscape where you can enjoy fantastic canters close to the coastline. Extensive vineyards, but also small adegas line your way as you follow narrow tracks close to the shore. Eventually you reach another top highlight of the Azores, the volcano of Capelinhos, which erupted in 1957. Desert-like solitude awaits you with an old whaling village covered with the ash from the volcano. Hidden under the buried lighthouse is the modern interpretation centre that reports on the volcanism of the Azores and the eruption of the volcano. You combine your saddlebag picnic with a visit to this attraction.
After lunch you ride over parts of the volcano to reach the Jungle Camp in the late afternoon. The transfer back to the lodge is already waiting here.
Day 7 - Canyon Trail
Riding: 17 kilometres
Today is the last day of the trail as you cross the island from the dry south to the green north with magnificent views over terraced pastures down to the blue ocean. Extended canters lead to the highest village on the island, Ribeira Funda. A typical Azorean picnic is waiting for you directly above the 300m deep canyon. Let the sun warm you, listen to the wind and the wild cries of the buzzards circling over the deep gorge.
In the afternoon the route takes you along yam fields and through a small, wild and romantic valley to return to the lodge. A big farewell dinner with wine tasting heralds the end of this fascinating trail week.
Day 8 - Departure
Riding: No riding.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight. With the early flight from Faial back to Lisbon you should be able to connect with an afternoon flight home. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay on the island to explore further - please ask for details.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.