The Azores were formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, and while many of the volcanos are now dead, there is still some activity of its violent geological past still visible today – as our comms Queen Anna discovered when she visited Sao Miguel recently.
The volcanic landscape on the lakeshore of Lagoa das Furnas, on the east of the island is a stark contrast to the lush green seen elsewhere.
The boardwalk takes you round the mish-mash of bubbling mud pools and sulphurous vents; and in case you didn’t realise, there are signs telling you they are hot!
Towards the end of the walk there are the pits where the traditional Cozido das Caldeiras stew is cooked.
Taking advantage of the super hot volcanic solfratas, these pits are like giant slow cookers. Chefs prepare the stew of pork, veal, sausages and vegetables in huge pots, which are then placed in the caldeiras at around 4am.
Its interest to watch the process of the pots being removed at around mid-day and then be whisked off in waiting vans to the restaurant and served for lunch.
This stew is delicious – but make sure you are hungry, they are very generous with the servings!
The walk round the lake is relatively easy – the path is well defined with a few inclines and you’re rewarded with great views across the lake. Birdlife is plentiful, with numerous ducks, herons and egrets and I even spotted the lake’s equivalent of the Loch Ness monster……
Later in the day, after I’d checked into the Terra Nostra hotel, I donned on my dressing gown over my swimming costume and joined several people dressed like Jedi knights walking to the pool for a swim in Furnas’s steaming geothermal swimming pool – after five hours in the saddle the day before, it was divine!
Don’t let the brown water put you off, it really is a great way to end the day – and there are a couple of other pools with water jets to massage your aches away too!
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(And you can see more pictures of what Anna got up to on her week in the Azores in the photo album our Facebook page)