Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, Sperm Whales…
Exclusive Small Group Tour
8 – 12 persons 4****
Tour dates 2017: 7 -14 May & 14 – 21 May
Cost from: £990 per person
(Single person supplement £165)
Tour duration: 7 nights
Group size: 12 persons
This comfortable and relaxed exclusive small group tour involves 4 full day trips to sea on a Catamaran (exclusive use) accompanied by resident expert guide/Marine Biologist, Lisa Steiner. You will stay in the harbour front Hotel Do Canal with breath taking views over the bay and to Pico Mountain. Your 4 full days out to sea will be on our large, well equipped Catamaran. This boat is suitable for guests of all ages and has toilet facilities and safety railings and offers a great vantage point from which to see the whales and take great photos. Ideally located, everything is within easy walking distance from where you can explore the delights of this lively harbour town which is an international port of call for transatlantic yachts.
Hotel do Canal is a delightful luxury 4 star hotel about 2 minutes walk from where the boat is moored. The newly refurbished hotel is tastefully decorated in a traditional maritime style which echoes the cultural heritage of the island from land to sea. A sunroom and lounge with comfortable chairs and great views across the harbour and to Pico Mountain. There is a stylish bar and restaurant. Breakfast is served from a buffet, with fresh fruits, breads, hot dishes and cereal. There is a small fitness centre, a jacuzzi and sauna. The hotel is close to the beach at Porto Pim and the famous Peter’s Café Sport which is a haunt of all the transatlantic sailors who stop in Horta on their voyage across the Atlantic. It is a great bar to visit and hear tales of voyages at sea !
After landing in Horta, one of the more remote islands of the Azores, you will be taken to your hotel to relax. Later on you will meet your expert guide/naturalist Lisa Steiner, who is a resident Marine Biologist in the Azores. Lisa shares her extensive whale research here both on board informally and with talks and presentations. Our guests have really enjoyed the fascinating information and wealth of experience that Lisa offers. She has been leading tours for over 30 years and retains a lively enthusiasm and curiosity for the whales, many of whom she recognises. This is a hugely popular escorted tour in first rate accommodation and gives a real taste of the traditions and heritage of the Azores on one of the less populated, more remote islands of the archaepelago. Land tours into the Caldeira (volcanic crater/canyon), to see the volcanic origins of the island are a short distance away. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the dramatic geological formations and the ancient buried city ruins with the Atlantic Ocean crashing on to the cliffs below. Cultural tours to see the vineyards and mountain villages can be combined with guided walks and bird watching.
About our Expert Guide – Lisa Steiner
Lisa first came to the Azores in 1988, after graduating from the University of Miami, as part of the IFAW research team on “Song of the Whale”. She was responsible for the cataloguing and matching of sperm whale fluke identification photographs and for analysing all other sightings. Since then, she has been a naturalist on board whale watching vessels in the Azores, passing on her knowledge to guests. Lisa has published several scientific papers on Azorean cetaceans and presented her work to the Marine Mammal and European Cetacean Societies. She has worked on other research projects involving bottlenose dolphin in Alabama and Miami, humpback whales in Hawaii, minke whales in Scotland, Fin whales in the Cape Verde islands and Northern Right whale search in Bermuda. Lisa is the on-board naturalist during your tour and with 25 years of experience will be able to answer your questions. How your participation in this tour helps fund local research by Lisa and her team. Participating on this tour helps fund Lisa and her team’s research in the Azores. For example, to date they have:
- Doubled the Azores sperm whale photo-ID catalogue to over 3000 individual animals
- Identified the first ever matches of individual whales seen between the Azores, Canaries & Madeira
- Discovered the first matches of male sperm whales between the Azores and Norway
- Discovered 13 females that have made return trips between the Azores and the Canary Islands
- Collected skin samples and photographic data on Azorean sperm whales and 19 other species
Whales and the Boat
Onboard the Catamaran, which takes 12 people, you can enjoy excellent sightings from the high viewing platform and relax on the comfortable decks and loungers. Lunch is served in between exciting sightings on this stable boat. There are toilet facilities onboard with a walkway to board the boat. We have chosen these dates in May to offer you the best chance to see the migrating baleen whales, a unique gathering of huge, ravenous Blue, Fin and Sei Whales who are attracted to these nutrient rich waters by the spring phytoplankton bloom! They stay in the area to feed and our expert land based lookouts can direct our boats to the action!
Location and getting there
Fly to Horta on Faial Island (see our section on getting there) and you will be met at the airport, transferred to your hotel and welcomed by our guide. The town of Horta has a classic ‘maritime feel’ and you will have plenty of time to explore local attractions. A visit to Horta is incomplete without a visit to the famous “Peter’s Bar” frequented by transatlantic yacht crews offering colourful tales of their time at sea! These crews paint momentos of their journey on the harbour walls.
You are free to plan your own free time around the boat schedule – see Other Activities around the islands below this itinerary. Your guide will offer various presentations to fit around the schedule and each evening at 6 pm there will be a talk from a specialist about research projects on the dolphins and whales around the islands.
Arrival in the Azores. Transfers to hotel. Welcome briefing and introductions, complimentary drinks, orientation in the local area. You have time for a rest! Schedule of whale watching boat trips will be discussed and you will have a chance to meet the whole team and your guide, Lisa Steiner, during your complimentary dinner in the evening.
Boat trip to sea 10am to 5pm. Board Catamaran for whale watching with lunch on board. Enjoy an evening meal with our guide in a local restaurant with group. Audio-visual briefing about the whales and dolphins of the Azores, with lots of visuals and information about the history of whaling and whale watching in the Azores. On board guides will provide in depth information about the wildlife and Lisa Steiner will be available to discuss the sightings and compare photos!
Days 3 to 6 inclusive: Overall itinerary of the week will be announced shortly. There will be opportunities to do excursions around the island to fit with your 4 full day trips to sea. Evening meals will be a combination of eating in the hotel restaurant and eating with the group and guide (subject to group preference). There will also be further talks and presentations from the marine biologist giving you a rich understanding of the whales of the Azores, local history and culture.
Departure day. Transfer to airport from hotel.
Tours of the island are available with more details on the guide letter. This is to give you a chance to appreciate the island’s rugged beauty and charm. There is access to swim in the sea from a sheltered sandy beach (temperature permitting ), nearby walks, bird watching, snorkelling and diving. We also offer talks and presentations on marine and land birdlife. There is a whalers museum giving the history of the old whaling culture which stopped 25 years ago. Various tours are explained on the letter from your guide which they will help you arrange when there.
Costs, what’s included and Booking
The prices per person for this tour is £950pp (single person supplement £165). This includes:
- Return airport transfers
- 4 full day trips to sea with lunch onboard
- 7 nights 4* hotel accommodation with breakfast included
- Complimentary welcome drinks
- Group meal with guide at the beginning and the end of the tour
- Full guide services
- Marine biology talks and presentations
Extra activities can be enjoyed include Island tours, the “Caldeira” or canyon, dramatic geological formations, the ancient buried city ruins and vineyards. The guide will accompany the group on trips to local restaurants on a few evenings to contrast eating in the hotel. To book this tour please visit how to book