A Travellerspoint blog

Dolphins, whales and trail ride to Ribeihinia


View Azores - on horseback on bejjan's travel map.

Up in time for breakfast at 7.30 am. Two of the four British ladies were booked for a dolphin and whale safari this the morning, so I took the opportunity to join them. Safari out on the ocean is something you should really take the opportunity to do here in the Azores. Our transfer departed at 8.20 am from Quinta da Terça down to the harbor in Ponta Delgada. It was about 15 people who gathered for the briefing and from what I could see from the attendee list there were two other Swedes participating. At the briefing we were informed about which species we might see at this time of year. Now, in November, the chances of seeing whales and dolphins are limited, but the weather was predicted to be good and the waves out on the ocean were relatively calm. Equipped with a rain coat (in case of rain or high waves) and life jacket each we walked down to the boat, a larger rubber boat (RIB boat?).

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In the harbor it was calm but once outside the breakwaters the waves got higher. On shore they had people looking out over the sea localizing possible whales and dolphins. The radio was quiet for a long while before we got the directive where to steer the boat.

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Once in place, we saw both dolphins and whales (sperm whales and pilot whales) in groups showing themselves with their cubs, so our guides were very satisfied with the day considering the small chances of seeing any animals at all. And after being out on the ocean for about 2 hours you were just about that seasick. After the whale and dolphin safari we were picked up by car for return trip to Quinta da Terça and lunch.

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On the way back we made a stop at Alto da Mãe de Deus, one of the earliest settlements in Ponta Delgada. During erection in 1567, the building was a chapel and was so until First World War. Due to its superior location on top of a hill with perfect view over Ponta Delgada and the ocean, the chapel was turned into a military fortress with heavy artillery to defend the city against attackers.

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Today, the chapel swaggers on top of the hill with its white colored facade and thorough stone work. The view from up here is magnificent and it’s easy to understand why the place was of great importance during the world wars to defend Ponta Delgada.

Once back at the estate we had lunch and thereafter it was time for my first ride together with the ladies from the UK. Just after 1.40 pm, the horses were loaded in the lorry and we riders were given a ride in a car to Ribeihinia, on the north coast of São Miguel. When we had arrived it took about 10 more minutes for the lorry with the horses to get there, so we riders had a few minutes to enjoy the fascinating view. The edgy lava rocks ended abruptly out in the ocean and despite the Azorean autumn, the contrast between the distinct green grasses, dark lava rocks and deep blue ocean were stunning. Temperature was about +20 °C and the wind was tepid. The sun was warming, but not too much. The lorry showed up and the horses stood calm and quiet in the lorry and waited for their turn. Two of the ladies rode off first with Rodrigo, on a slower ride. Then it was time for the rest of us to bridle our horses and ride off with Lara.

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My horse for the day was Dita, an energetic chestnut mare that was a mixed breed between Lusitano and some draft horse. I was asked to ride last, but Dita didn’t agree to that at all. As long as Dita and I were last, anything that moved was terrifying (according to Dita). After half of the ride we switched places and we rode second last. Dita liked that better and became o totally different horse.

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The ride started along the rocky coastline before we rode towards the centre of the island and started a long ascent up towards a viewpoint.

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Once up at the viewpoint, the view was amazing with the city on one side and the rocky ocean side on the other. On the way down we had to walk the horses down. And furthermore a little muddy so both riders and horses partially slid downhill. Now we continued further towards the island center and in more lush areas with more canters and trotting.

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While walking along a road with a lot of bushes, Dita saw the perfect opportunity to scratch her butt. She was a little clever though and made it during half-pass with her hind towards the bushes, which meant that she never stopped but continued walking forward though side sideways. We all started to laugh, me included. For one could really see how Dita enjoyed getting scratched. Ha ha!!
After almost 3 hours in the saddle we spotted the lorry further ahead. When we arrived, Rodrigo and the other two were already there and had loaded their horses. We unbridled our horses and haltered them. Then we just led the horses, one at the time, to the ramp and let go of the rope and the horses went up in the lorry on their own. Totally amazing! Of course, a guy inside the lorry received the horses and tied them up, but the thing that the horses didn’t took their chance and run away…

Well back on the estate Quinta da Terça it was nice with a shower and some rest before dinner at 7.30 pm. Today the Italian chef was there and cooked. First course was seafood mix (Linguine), main course was tuna and broccoli and as dessert fruit salad was served.
That evening, as every evening, we discussed about everything. One thing I remember talking about was that it still is ongoing seismic activity on São Miguel. Not that it’s about any big quakes, but still as disturbing that some people do wake up from their sleep at night

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Portugal Tagged azores horseback_riding

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