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Hike to the waterfalls by Ribeira do Faial da Terra

We would now like to highlight one of our favourite hikes along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra. It starts by the EN 1-1A near a small space for parking and resting and takes you along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra to the town Faial da Terra by the coast.

Path to the Salto do Cagarrão

At the beginning, this path still takes you along the edge of the forest, before then taking a turn into the densely vegetated valley. Especially near the forest you will often find gurbir berries. These Indian berries look deceptively similar to wild strawberries.

Indian gurbir berries
Indian gurbir berries

Unfortunately, their taste is more reminiscent of fresh water rather than strawberries. They really don’t have much taste and if anything are just a little sweet.

Seeing as you’ve only just set off on your walk, it’s more likely that you’re hungry for some sights rather than for food. This path, fortunately, provides many of those. The first part of the path leads you all the way to the first waterfall, the Salto do Cagarrão. This part spans 1,6km, starts at a height of approximately 490m and finished on around 290m. You will be able to see an incredibly large variety of nature.

Trees in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra
Trees in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra

One moment you’ll be seeing large trees with twisted trunks, and the next you find yourself in-between slender trees arranged parallelly, creating an entirely different atmosphere.

Parallelly growing trees in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra
Parallelly growing trees in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra

Only a little further onwards, this amazing tree can be spotted. Its strangely twisted branches seem to be grasping at everything around it.

Trees in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra
Trees in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra

Even the path itself has obviously been steadily changing and battling the forces of nature.

Even the path along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra is constantly changing.
Even the path along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra is constantly changing.

Just as the bridge on the old path has had to yield to nature, the old mill has not been functional for many years.

If you can’t get enough of the different shapes, have a look at the roots and the riverbed. No single area looks alike.

Wurzeln mit besonderen Formen bei der Wanderung entlang des Ribeira do Faial da Terra
Roots in special shapes on the way along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra

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Salto do Cagarrão

After 2.3km you will reach the Salto do Cagarrão. The sign points to the place where you can turn and walk down towards the waterfall.

Sign showing the way to the Salto do Cagarrão
Sign showing the way to the Salto do Cagarrão

This is a good spot to take a break, not only because it is exceptionally pretty, but also because there are typically much fewer people around compared to the Salto do Prego. A lot of the time you’ll even be entirely by yourself.

Once you get going again here, there are two options. You can continue towards Salto do Prego or back to the parking lot. We separated here on our last hike. My wife went on to the next waterfall with the kids and I walked back to the car. Interestingly, walking from here to Salto do Prego takes about the same amount of time as going back to the car, by car to Fajal da Terra and from there in the opposite direction to Salto do Prego. You can park here along the street and just behind the end of the paved street. But anyway, back to the correct order.

The path to the Salto do Prego

The path from the Salto do Cagarrão to the Salto do Prego is approximately 2km long and will take you down another 100m. You will continue to pass small springs flowing towards the Ribeira do Faial da Terra.

Small springs along the path
Small springs along the path

A lot of the fallen trees create some interesting shapes.

Fallen trees on the path along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra
Fallen trees on the path along the Ribeira do Faial da Terra

Maybe this is not a coincidence at all – maybe this is the place where pirates buried their treasure? Why else would you be able to find three trees crossing each other here…?

There has to be a treasure buried somewhere here.
There has to be a treasure buried somewhere here.

In some places, the path takes you along the edge of the forest, which means you have a clear view of the mountains and valleys.

Salto do Prego

Once you reach the Salto do Prego, you can take a bath in the cool and clean river. The amount of people you will encounter here will vary depending on the month and time of day. In the summer, it can be quite busy towards midday, especially since many visitors walk the 2.5km walk to the waterfall from Faial da Terra.

If you visit during a quieter time, you will be able to observe a variety of birds along the path, whenever you walk near the water. This is one of the ones we spotted; he accompanied us across the rocks for a while.

One of the many birds you will be able to spot during your walk
One of the many birds you will be able to spot during your walk

We may have been observing him, but he definitely watched us for a while as well.

The path to Faial da Terra

The last 2.5 km section leads you down to Faial da Terra, which is located directly on the coast. The path is quite steep in some places and can be a little slippery due to the loose dust. Here, you will also meet the “guardians” who gave our name to our article about the waterfalls on São Miguel.

These chickens have been living near the Salto do Prego for many years
These chickens have been living near the Salto do Prego for many years

In the village itself, you can find a small café here. We like to go there for a cup of coffee and some ice cream.

We’d like to talk a little bit more about how we like this hike the most. For us, the simple route is enough. As described above, we usually split up and then re-unit at the Salto do Prego, or we organise a way back to the car park. If we wanted to walk the entire route, we would set off from Faial da Terra, thus walking up-hill at the start rather than at the end of our hike.
But if you want to only walk part of the route, we personally think that the first part leading to the Salto do Cagarrão is the prettier part, but this is probably down to personal taste. If you’re looking for something to eat, check out the port behind Povoação, specifically the restaurant “Cantinho do Churrasco” (except this is maybe not as well-suited if you are vegetarian).

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