Pico, the island, has the same name as its mountain. With 2531m, Pico Mountain is the highest mountain in Portugal and one of the biggest European volcanoes. The last eruption has been in 1720. One of the former eruptions created another tiny mountain inside of the caldera (I’m quite sure that geologists would chose different words for this outcome :-), which gives Pico its characteristic appearance. It looks like the mountain would wear a too small party hat. Despite this funny exterior, Pico has a diginfied and wise aura.
This trail was clearly one of our hiking highlights on the Azores. It follows an old water channel (Levada) through dense jungle-like forests and grasslands. As there was a hurricane just some weeks earlier, we had to climb over fallen trees a lot and there was even a bridge which was hit by a tree. On time we had to pass trough a tunnel.
As we have parked our car at the beginning of the trail we had to take a taxi to bring us back to our initial point. I guess it would have been much more exhausting if we hadn’t found one because the climb to the start was rather steep.
Capelinhos on Faial Islands was the latest volcanic eruption of the Azores. It happened in the 1950s over a couple of month. First an undersea volcano erupted and build up a landmass some meters in front of the island. Later, the gap between the new landmass and the island was closed by further eruptions. At the beginning the inhabitants of the island didn’t notice much of it but when the wind turned, and the ashes were spread all over the island, ignoring it wasn’t an option anymore and normal farming wasn’t possible for years.
There is a story about the lighthouse keeper who would have stood in his lighthouse during all the eruptions. He even would have had a long spoon to spoon some Lava out of the stream.
The underground documentation center architecturally is a great building. The museum (8€ pP) itself is ok but not great. The most important part (the eruption) is only documented on one wall, the festivity and marketing of 60 years of eruption is a huge room.
We started the hike with the intention to make the tour around the caldeira but after the first 1000 meters we turned around. It was already late, the weather was very unstable and above all there were some of those vertigo places and we didn’t know how this would continue.
Unfortunately you can’t make a complete tour around Lagoa do Fogo. We tried to go back another way that we found on our map, but after the first 200 meters it became more and more unpassable so we turned around and walked back the same way we came from.
If it weren’t for the view – definitely the best view of the Azores – the hike itself would be rather dull. We climbed up the steep mountain from the center of the village of Sete Ciudades and made the tour around the craters on country roads (yes, there were even cars).