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Azores - Relaxed Ride
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Azores - Relaxed Ride

The Azores are a stunning archipelago of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean, almost midway between Portugal and North America. Discovered in the 15th Century, they became an important stop-over point for early explorers and travellers between the old and new worlds.

São Miguel is the largest island in the Azores and measures 81kms long and 15kms wide at its maximum points, however the roads wind up and around many hills and so the island feels much larger than these distances suggest.

The islands are volcanic in origin and this volcanic activity has created a spectacular natural beauty of vast craters, glistening blue lakes, black cliffs along the shore, lush green rolling valleys, rugged mountains and hot mineral springs and geysers.

The fertile terrain is uneven and rocky, making for small, intensely green fields divided by stone walls and edged with vibrantly blooming flowers. The flower most associated with the Azores is the hydrangea, which flowers riotously throughout the islands, lining the roads and fields with shades of blue, purple and pink. Other abundant flowers are arum lilies, wild ginger, rhododendrons, gladioli and sweet peas.

Your base for this wonderful riding holiday is Quinta da Terça on the south of the island not far from the main town of Ponta Delgada. The historic house of the Quinta (farm) is one of the oldest homes on the island and dates from the 17th Century. There are five lovely guest rooms, each with en suite facilities as well as a comfortable dining room and lounge.

The riding centre has some 20 much loved horses. They are all well-schooled and a pleasure to ride, whether in the arena or out on the trail.

The Azores are one of the best places in the world to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment and boat trips out onto the ocean usually give wonderful sightings. Among the most sighted species are the sperm whale, the fin whale, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and Atlantic spotted dolphin.

On the Relaxed Ride it is possible to plan for just ten hours riding over the week, which leaves lots of time to explore the island. You would need a rental car and this option is on a bed and breakfast basis at the Quinta to give you optimum flexibility.

An array of seasonal fruit and vegetables appear in the wonderful breakfasts, lunches and dinners available at the Quinta. The food is delicious and a real highlight of the holiday.

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Portuguese Riding Specialist  Claire Douglas

Claire says:

This is a really lovely riding holiday. The island of São Miguel is beautiful with exotic flowers and lush vegetation. It's also steeped in history, since it was a stopping point for all the ships which sailed from Portugal to the "new world".

My top tip:

The whale watching trip is a great adventure. There is a 90% chance of seeing dolphins and a 50% chance of seeing whales.

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