Everywhere in the world has what I call its “postcard picture”: for France it’s the Eiffel Tower, for Peru its Macchu Piccu, for London its Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Well for the Azores it’s Sete Cidades, the famous blue and green lakes on the west side of Sao Miguel:
We visited Sete Cidades on our second to last day and did a five hour trek around the outer ridge with some amazing views. The lakes are stunning and very unusual given one is so blue and one so green. However, there is another less popular lake on the island called Lagoa de Fago, which translates as the Fire Lake, and is called this because the lake sits within the crater of an old volcano. Lagao de Fogo is in the centre of the island and for me personally, this was the view that really made me go “wow!”
We visited Lagao de Fogo on our second day of the holiday. We started our walk north of Agua d’Alto in Pico and walked up to the lake, alongside a reservoir that took us to the southern shore of the lake. The walk felt very secluded and remote and between leaving the car and reaching the lake, we saw only a handful of other walkers.
When we reached the lake, we stopped to take in the incredible view. Then we found a well hidden path that took us down to a beautiful little secluded beach where we went for a dip in the cool, clear waters. The water was pretty nippy and I wasn’t sure initially that we would be brave enough to go in. However eventually we braved it and it certainly cooled us down from the walk! We ate our packed lunch on the beach, took a few photos and then reluctantly began the circular route back to the car. Our morning at Lagao Fogo was definitely a highlight of the trip for me and the true postcard picture that I will remember from the Azores.
After four hours of walking in Lagao de Fogo, we decided to go rest our weary legs in Caldeira Velha, a pair of thermal pools only 20 minutes from the end of the walk on the north edge of Fogo volcano. We arrived to the increasingly familiar sulphur smell and instantly I felt like we were in a scene out of Jurassic Park, minus the terrifying man-eating raptors! Huge green ferns and colourful flowers lined the stoney path that led to two orangey, mineral-rich pools in the depth of the wild forest.
The first pool was up a long path and was set into the rocks with a waterfall at the far end. The lady we bought the tickets from suggested that we started with this one as it was slightly cooler so we followed her recommendation and headed there first. The water was pretty nippy at 27 degrees and as the pool was in the shade it wasn’t really the sort of pool you could sit back and relax in. However it was a beautiful setting so we took a few photos and then headed down to the warmer pool to warm up! In contrast, the second pool was really warm at 38 degrees and much more relaxing to lay in and soak.
As the pools are located near to a lot of popular walking routes and are small, they did feel pretty busy with people coming and going all the time. However the setting made it feel so relaxing and in total we spent a good few hours lazing there in total. A definite must have after any walk in Lagoa do Fogo!
COST: 4/5. Entrance to the pools cost 4 euros and for that you had unlimited time at the pools, plus use of toilets and a cold shower. Apart from the free pool at Ferraria, this was the cheapest thermal spring on the island and felt good value for money.
CLEANLINESS: 4/5 The pools are both fed from a spring from higher up the volcano and the pool at the top is roped off from the public to ensure the water is fresh and clean for people bathing at the bottom. The water was rusty in colour due the iron and minerals in the water but felt clean. The only thing I would say is that they didn’t ask people to shower before getting in which would probably be a good idea given lots of people head there after walking. The toilets and showers were basic but very clean.
IN THREE WORDS: WILD, JUNGLE-Y (is that a word?), GREEN