Having just spent three weeks in Portugal the thought was why not continue in the Portuguese vain and hit the islands, beginning in the Azores before heading down to Madeira. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is located around 850 miles from the mainland and total nine volcanic islands, with only the largest island of São Miguel being on our radar for this trip. We had investigated other islands but due to it being the off-season most of the interisland ferries were no longer running and the price of flying between the islands with a mountain bike in tow was prohibitive.
São Miguel was highlighted as the primary island to visit due to it having a bit of everything, from natural hot springs to lake filled calderas to hiking galore, and my favorite; mountain biking. Over the course of our couple week visit this had to be my Cape Epic training ground. It was also good for Andrea as she got to finish work at 9pm, following the AZOT timezone.
Portas da Cidade (City Gates) in the administrative capital of the Azores, Ponta Delgada
Our thirteen night stay was divided up between Furnas in the east of the island, the centrally located capital of Ponta Delgada, and finally to Mosteiros in the far west for the last few days. This self selected itinerary would pretty much cover the islands hot-spots and hopefully allow me to get out and hit the trails with some significant climbing on the mountain bike – I was now down to around eight weeks before the big South African race.
This still relatively undiscovered island chain in the height of winter almost ensured we were some of the very few tourists around, just the way we like it. The weather looked like it was going to be pretty good to us, slightly warmer than the Portuguese mainland, with temperatures ranging from the mid 40’s to the low 60’s Fahrenheit. Worst case was daily, continual, miserable rain, something that the Azores are renowned for – there was good reason that these islands have such lush vegetation.
SIM Card & Coverage
Carrier: MTN, Usage: 16GB, unlimited SMS, unlimited mins
Arrival/ Departure: Lusaka <-> Kigali, Carrier: RwandAIR
Cost: $397.58 pp
January 20th – February 2nd 2018
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