A Travellerspoint blog

Fire Mountain and Fire Lake


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

Woke up and made myself ready for breakfast at 8.30 am. The four ladies from the UK left the estate during the morning and traveled on home by flight. Bit of shame though because they were very nice company and I got to practice more on my English. That’s why it was only me together with the guide Lara on a half-day ride on horseback during the morning. I was down at the stable at 9.30 am and met up with Lara and Corante, my horse for the day. There was some love at first sight. He was a beautiful brown-white piebald and the story of Corante’s life before arriving at Quinta da Terça is a bit heartbreaking.

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Corante which means the Colorful is an appropriate name for such beautiful horse. He grew up as a stallion in Livramente in the Azores in company of a mare and her foal (not his foal though). The owner fed the horses with only pineapple greens, which is inadequate and under-nourishing for a horse. When Christina and Claude tried to buy all three horses, being in poor shape at the time being, they got a no. But 6 months later, the owner had a visit from the local animal police and Christina and Claude then got an offer to buy Corante. Today, Corante is in good condition and is a happy horse and has gotten the nickname “the Pineapple Horse”.

But how can they do so? Some of you might think. According to Claude it’s kind of a status to have a Lusitano stallion, as well as a house and a car, preferring a nice model. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to take care of a horse or not, there should be a horse in the backyard just for status sake. It’s also popular to buy a horse for their kids.

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Today’s ride started at the estate in Livramente. We rode through smaller villages, rode in a tunnel underneath the highway before coming into more nature. The sun was more absent today and became cloudier as we approached Pico do Fogo, the Fire Mountain. But it never got to rain.

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Despite the cloudy weather it was a nice view from the viewpoint. When we rode back to the estate and was almost at Quinta da Terça, Corante thought it was time to lie down and roll. Though it was in the end of the ride and I was kind of relaxed and didn’t have total focus on Corante, he suddenly folded his legs underneath him and thought “Here I want to roll”. It was really weird and it all went in like slow motion and I had time to think “Don’t get caught with your legs and get your feet out of the stirrups!” After all commotion and Corante was back on all four legs we continued riding to the estate. Since it was my last day of riding tomorrow, Lara asked me which horse I would like to ride. Despite today’s blunder, I still wanted to ride Corante tomorrow. Now I knew what signs to look for and how he behaved when he wanted to roll.

Back at the estate in time for lunch at 1 pm. It was some kind of omelet and salad. Today new guests would arrive; one German woman and a French couple. The German woman arrived at the estate when I had lunch. We had a short moment of getting to know each other before I had to get ready for my excursion to the Fire Lake this afternoon. Soon after 2 pm my guide Paulo picked me up at the estate. He drove a black Mercedes, newer model, that I can bet didn’t have one scratch in the paint. The car was meticulously cleaned inside and looked like it was just driven out from the manufacturer fabric. One of the sites for today was Lagoa do Fogo, Fire Lake, situated in the middle of the island São Miguel.

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The Fire Lake is surrounded by a volcanic crater lined with endemic plants. The clear calm water and the white sandy beaches are a quiet peach and beauty classified as a nature reserve. To reach one of the viewing points overlooking Lagoa do Fogo you must drive uphill a number of altitude meters. The clouds were low around the volcano crates and initially it looked like I wouldn’t get to see anything, once up there. But when we arrived the sun shined and the sky cleared up. Way down below you could spot hikers on their way down to the lake and a few people taking a swim. Up where I was standing, the wind was chilly though so you really didn’t feel for a swim.

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We kept on downhill to Caldeira Velha. Here was several waterfalls and hot springs that during the high season (the summer) is a popular destination for tourists. I walked on a path and the green vegetation with palm trees and various other plants made it feel like the Amazon for a short moment. Pretty soon I had reached the hot springs and the waterfalls.

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It was changing rooms and restroom, also a souvenir shop. When I got back to Paulo and sat down in the car, I noticed he had cleaned the car floor mat up from the little pile of dirt I had accidently left. Wow, is he that caring about the car?

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We kept on north and towards the coast to Ribeira Grande, second largest city on São Miguel. Ribeira Grande means “big river” and the name was given the city due to its location along a big river. It’s a beautiful city with many narrow streets, where they maybe not should allow car traffic because it’s so narrow. The religion plays a big part in the Azorean life which can be noticed in number of churches around the island. A beautiful bridge, Ponte de Oito Arcos, with its eight arches from the 18th Century can be seen in the City Garden.

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As a last stop during the today’s guiding we stopped at the only tea plantation on the island (and Europe); Gorreana Tea Factory. In 1874 Chinese Tea Plantation experts visited São Miguel and learned the Azorean how to grow tea. It takes 6 years before a new plant can be harvested for the first time. Then it can be harvested until it turns 9 years, after that it is consumed. Gorreana Tea Factory is ecological and neither pesticides nor chemicals are used here and the tea factory is one of the most important incomes in the Azores.

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When I arrived back at Quinta da Terça it was almost completely dark outside and soon time for dinner at 7.30 pm. Bean soup as starter, potato gratin as main dish and blackberry pie and ice cream as dessert. For dinner the French couple had also arrived at the estate. They told they had started to learn English just 3 months ago and if that’s true, they had learned very much and many words!

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

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