Gordon:  Like all of the islands in the Azores, Faial is of volcanic origin.  The island is dominated by one large volcano which is referred to as the “caldera”.  The rim of the caldera is at an elevation of 900 to 1050 metres, and much of the time it is shrouded in clouds.

Today’s weather forecast was for the first fully sunny day since our arrival in Faial.  We have been waiting for such an opportunity to visit the caldera.  From our location at the western tip of the island it is 13 kms and 800 metres vertical to the rim of the crater.  Ruth was hurting a bit from yesterday’s exertions, so she was not up for such a challenging climb, though she did accompany me part of the distance.
Surprisingly, the small road I took was paved all the way to the rim.  The second half of the ride was delightful, with a single lane road, mossy from infrequent use, steadily rising through pastures, moors and beautiful parcels of cedar forest.  The views of the west end of the island expanded as I climbed.
There was no mistaking the arrival at the rim of the crater.  The land suddenly dropped away, revealing a crater 400 metres deep with almost vertical sides.  There is an official trail that follows the edge of the crater for its circumference.  It was still before noon so of course I undertook the 2 1/4 hour walk.

The views from the rim of the crater were much better than I expected.  The area could be characterized as a moor, so the vegetation is all low: heather, mosses, ferns, and grasses, none of which interfere with the view.  Walking around the rim allowed a tour of most of the island, as I could see almost every community, farm and forest.  The volcanic history of the island was also apparent, as there was a clearly visible line of volcanic cones stretching from the caldera to Capelinhos.  There is also an obvious rift that runs across the island, which I understand was caused by earthquake activity.

The ride back to Capelinhos was a treat, as I coasted for almost the entire distance.  All in all, it was the sort of day I love: lots of exercise and some remarkable sights, followed by a great dinner (made by Ruth in our little house).  I am hoping for many more like it.

Follow Our Journey

Don't want to miss a post?

Sign-up below to receive notifications whenever we add a new post to our blog.