Many visitors to São Miguel go hiking in search of some calm and relaxation. Especially suitable for this are the hiking routes around the various lakes, since these are usually less exhausting. The island has many lakes to offer, so we want to introduce you to some of the most beautiful ones here.
Lagoa do Congro
A magical place that feels a little bit like Jurassic Park can be found nor far from Vila Franca do Campo. It is the circular Lagoa do Congro filled with green water. When hiking there with our kids, we followed a small path through a “magical” forest and climbed some tree trunks.
Not long after we reached this idyllic lake, where frogs were croaking and birds were chirping on the bank. This lake is also home to some fish, like carps, that were swimming really close to the surface, which looked to our kids like dinosaurs were circling in the water. But maybe it was just shadows, who knows?
Lagoa das Furnas
One of the first lakes we visited on the Azores was the Lagoa das Furnas. This lake can be found in a former volcanic crater and was used as the title image for this post. You can observe, and especially smell, the volcanic activity at the Caldeiras. There are two starting points from which you can hike around the entire lake, and both of them have a carpark you have to pay for. When starting at the Caldeiras, you will walk counter-clockwise through a beautiful bamboo forest and follow the path.
After a couple of metres, you will reach a wide, easily walkable hiking path. You will pass a visitor information centre where you can find out more about the peculiarities of the Lagoa das Furnas. Close by, you will find one of the tallest monkey puzzle trees in the world, which makes it worth a visit all by itself.
Further on, you will reach a small chapel. This neo-Gothic chapel was built in France around 1884 and shipped to São Miguel.
As far as we know, you’re unfortunately not able to see the inside of the chapel. Later on, you are going to pass a picnic spot which is perfect for a short break. Afterwards, you can follow the lake next to the street to get back to the starting point.
Lagoa do Fogo
An especially beautiful hike starts at the ER 5 at the observation point overlooking the Lagoa do Fogo. If you can’t see the lake from the observation point, you should probably not attempt to climb down to it. We have done this hike three times already.
If you don’t mind getting up early, you should definitely come to watch the sunrise here. Not only is this simply an incredible sight, but you will also most likely be alone here, even during the main holiday season. Especially the way back up is very comfortable in the morning, when temperatures are still a little lower.
Like I said, you start at the observation point situated at the northern edge of the crater, that the Lagoa do Fogo is embedded in. The path to the lake is a firm and solid hiking path. It can, however, get a bit slippery if it has recently rained, so you should make sure to wear proper shoes. When climbing down there will be some larger steps that you should be careful about. The last part of the way down to the lake is a bit of an adventure, since you need to climb down a ladder, which is especially exciting for kids.
After arriving at the lake’s shore, you will have completed a difference of 160m in altitude. Now, you can walk clockwise around about half of the lake. In the summer month, when the lake carries less water, you can easily walk just along the water, otherwise there is a well identifiable separate hiking path. The Lagoa do Fogo has very clear water, that you are also allowed to swim in. The sand at the lake’s shore consists mainly of pumice stone. After having a nice picnic at the shore or simply enjoyed the beauty of nature, you can take the same route back to the observation point. The way back can be a bit more exhausting, but this just means that you will have earned yourself a delicious meal at one of the island’s many great restaurants in the end.