A ‘giant long sea monster’ is how the island of São Jorge has been described when viewed from an approaching ship. Like all Azores islands, São Jorge is volcanic in origin, but it is not the typical volcanic cone shape. It is an elongated narrow string of volcanic peaks joined by a high plateau. Half the island is above 300 metres elevation. A big eruption on the island in 1808 produced fresh lava. Dotted at sea level around the island are fajãs, small flatlands formed by lava flows or landslides. No-one lived on the islands until the Portuguese arrived in the 1430s. The Portuguese were joined later by Flemish, Italians, British, and Breton settlers.

On São Jorge, the Flemish exported lichen and the plant woad to Europe for dye. Later, food, including oranges was cultivated for export. Yams were so important as a food crop for residents that they are on Calheta’s Coat-of-Arms. Excellent trekking takes you amongst the dramatic volcanic cones, lush valleys ravines and the high plateau of São Jorge. Forests have native plants such as Azorean Candleberry Tree (Morella), Tree Heath, Pau-branco” (White Wood) and Azores Juniper. Alongside walking trails are colourful introduced plants, especially hydrangeas and yellow ginger-lilies. Seabirds, especially Cory's Shearwater, nest on higher slopes, although these are more easily seen from the ship. Look out for the amazing Azores Noctule, a bat which is the Azores’ only native mammal and one of only a few of the world’s bats that flies by day.


A fajã is a Portuguese term designating geological platform, generally located by the sea, constructed from landslides or lava flows, which are distinct features of the islands of the Azores and Madeira, as well as of the Canary Islands (the equivalent term in Spanish is fajana). Today you will hike the most emblematic fajã of the São Jorge, Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo, situated between the cliffs and the sea. An isolated and inaccessible place: even though there are still a few people who remained there after the 1980 earthquake, unwilling to abandon the fajã, currently less than 10 people are living there year round.

Start your hike at Serra do Topo. Along the way your guide will point out several species of endemic flora such as Azorean Heather (Erica azorica), Azores Juniper (Juniperus brevifolia), and the Azorean Holly (Ilex azorica). Look up for birds like the Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), Goldcrest (Regulus azoricus), and the Buzzard (Buteo rothschildi). Commence the descending stage towards Caldeira de Cima, cross the bridge Tia Julia and take a detour to the Cascata Pequena. In Fajã da Caldeira de Cima it will be possible to observe the built heritage left by the previous inhabitants. The landscape is imposing, with streams that plunge into beautiful waterfalls of clear water. Follow up to the viewpoint of the Fajã for a first view of Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo. Leaving the valley behind and heading towards Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo, you can have a glimpse at the slope on the east of the island and listen to the explanation of our guides about the formation of all Fajãs. Once in Fajã dos Cubres, the finishing point of this hike, visit the lagoon and observe some migratory birds. Leave Fajã dos Cubres in your transfer back to the pier, from here take a ferry for a scenic ride to Horta, where you will rejoin the ship.

Please note: this is a strenuous hike, recommended only for guests with hiking experience, who are able to hike for approximately 10 km (6.2 miles) over natural and at times slippery terrain, Due to the amount of down-hill walking, this hike is only for guests with strong knees. Guests are requested to wear hiking boots, carry a walking stick, sun and rain protection, and plenty of water. A light lunch is provided.

On to Horta, Azores

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