We didn’t walk much yesterday, and we are rested. The weather is cooperating, and we are going to the western part of the island to Sete Cidades trek to the most active volcano of the Azores, which we cancelled on Saturday due to bad weather and reached for a substitute program.
Sete Cidades trek
Sete Cidades (translated as “Seven Cities”) is the name of one of the most active volcanoes in the Azores archipelago. The volcano and its surroundings are part of a nature reserve. The volcano’s summit is capped by a 5 km wide caldera with walls up to 500 m high.
There are two lakes in the caldera:
Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde
The caldera was formed approximately 22,000 years ago, and later another 22 post-caldera eruptions have been documented to have formed numerous trachytic lava domes, lava flows, and pyroclastic deposits located on the northern and western slopes of the caldera.
Lagoa das Sete Cidades
These lakes are also known as Lagoa das Sete Cidades, the Lake of the Seven Cities. Interestingly, two bodies of water of immediately adjacent volcanoes are connected by a narrow neck, over which a portal bridge of stone runs. Although the levels are the same height, each lake is a different colour. With its green tint, the smaller lake, Lagoa Verde, is shallower and has more algae. Lagoa Azul, with blue-tinted water, is more profound and reflects more the colour of the sky.
Lubek’s scientific explanation of this phenomenon suits him, but I am more inclined to the local legend of the grumpy widowed king and his daughter in the Kingdom of the West Sea.
Legend of the West Sea Kingdom
He was an alchemist and sorcerer king who lived only for his daughter Antilia. He would not let the princess speak to anyone except for the old nurse who raised the princess. She was beautiful, isolated, and in her teens (which is always a bad combination, note: Lubko). The nanny occasionally helped her slip away and leave the palace walls for a while. On one of her wanderings, she fell in love with a young shepherd, and he was with her. They didn’t want to put the wedding “on the sly” because the old king might not have been able to stomach it, so the shepherd went to ask his daddy to marry his daughter. Of course, he didn’t, and the king banished him. The lovers grieved so long and hard that their tears formed two lakes. Antilla’s green eyes cried out the green one, and the boy’s blue eyes cried out the blue one.
Miradouro da Boca do Inferno
From the parking, we head to Miradouro da Boca do Inferno. It is one of the most stunning sceneries of Sao Miguel Island. It is located at an altitude of about 1000m. You can see Lagoa do Canário, Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Lagoa Rasa and part of Sete Cidades from here.
There are many possibilities of what kind of trail to do here. The whole caldera can be circumnavigated, and different routes branch off, allowing you to create a track of your length.
We continue along Lagoa do Canario, up the hill to Pico da Cruz. Then back through a group of cows that have cut us off from the car and are territorially claiming the hiking trail. It might be worth a full day’s hike around the whole caldera, but it’s still one scenery, and the best view is still from the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno.
So we go the other way, on the trail that leads from the parking lot and bypasses Lagoa Rasa and Lagoa Santiago.
We liked the circles around the lakes exceptionally much. So we take another trail around Lagoa das Eguas Norte and Eguas Sul.
Vista to Rei
The brochure also advises us to look at the Vista do Rei viewpoint near the ruins of the Monte Palace Hotel.
This hotel was the first five-star hotel on the island. It was considered the best hotel of the year in Portugal in 1990. The hotel had two restaurants, a nightclub, a bar, a hairdressing salon, and a bank. But trips to the Azores were not advertised then, and tourists only discovered their beauty later. Excursions to the Azores
Monte Palace Hotel ruins
The hotel went bankrupt 18 months after opening (someone underestimated the SWOT analysis in the business plan, Lubko note). The hotel was closed for 31 years, and the last 14 were completely abandoned. Supposedly, today’s tourism would tighten it and therefore, it was supposed to be renovated in 2021, but we need to find out if Covid disrupted these plans.
Sete Cidades crater
At the end of the trip, we drive down into the volcano’s crater, to the lakes and the village of Sete Cidades itself. We’ll take a short walk and have a snack here. We are down on the place titled “The most active volcano in the Archipelago”. Being in the crater of a volcano when it erupts is not recommended from a health point of view.
Still, everyone here looks calm, as if they have lava-resistant rubber boots at home.
I want to start slashing and screaming with every native. Please get out and move somewhere else, anywhere else, because he lives here in the crater of a volcano!!!