Visiting Furnas and its surroundings

We are little off schedule this morning as we have learned an important lesson the day before: that when travelling whilst pregnant, it is essential to have provisions ready. So, after buying some bread, jam and fruit that will hold all day in the car, we head off from Ponta Delgada to Furnas.

The journey takes a little under an hour, and brings us to the most risky populated part of the island: like Sete Cidade, Furnas is placed at the bottom of a volcanic crater. The difference is, however, that the volcano in question is dormant and has very active geothermal areas. I am not sure who first thought it was a great idea to settle pretty much on top of steam vents and boiling mud, but clearly someone did.

Furnas is a picturesque little town. We walk around looking at the boiling thermal springs and steam vents with the unmistakingly stench of sulphur in the air.

Steam and hot spring in Furnas

Later, we move on to Lagoa das Furnas where the range of thermal springs continue. Here, however, we come across the local tradition of cooking in the thermal springs: early in the morning they go to the geothermal area and bury a pot with meat and vegetables — then, seven hours later, they return and dig it up. Voila: lunch is ready. Or dinner.

Locals waiting to dig up their buried pots of food

Here comes the volcanic stew!

We try this stew, and all the tastes have blended very nicely after hours in the ground cooking.

Volcanic stew

Furnas also features the Terra Nostra Gardens. Neither of us are that interested in botany, but the garden also has a lage thermal pool with warm and yellow mineral-rich water. It is so big you could row a boat across it.

Thermal pool in Furnas

Finishing by swimming around, we leave Furnas and head back, on the way stopping by Lagoa do Fogo and — more interestingly — Caldeira Velha, which is conveniently placed between Furnas and our return to Ponta Delgada.

Caldeira Velha requires a short walk through tropical vegetation — the path is wide and solid, however. And at its very end, is a hot waterfall that falls nicely into a pool. The area is beautifully placed among lush trees,  mountain walls and a deep rift filled with more lush vegetation.  Having bathed enough in Furnas, we have some fruit and bread and jam at this lovely spot, before returning to the car.

Caldeira Velha

The return journey takes us to the very top of the island, above the tree lines and with a beautiful view to all the lakes and craters and villages scattered around the island.

Furnas and the surrounding areas are definitely a recommendation!

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