Geographers explore the Azores

Stockport Grammar School’s geography department turned up the heat this summer with an exciting trip to the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 1500 miles west of Portugal.

The islands, all formed by volcanic activity along the mid-ocean ridge, are awash with hot pools and lakes, waterfalls and green areas that our group explored throughout their journeys. After a quick visit to the local geothermal power station and Lagoa de Fogo Lake, the pupils enjoyed an other-worldly swim in a hot pool (approx. 35 degrees C) under a waterfall, to their great excitement.

Next, they admired the Baroque architecture in the town of Ribeira Grande, followed by an afternoon on Santa Barbara black sand beach, where unfortunately the sea was much too powerful to swim in, but a lovely day was still enjoyed by all.

The visiting party learned about the geological activity in the area by visiting Furnas Valley which is full of hot springs, sulphuric lakes and the smell of sulphur from the active undergrounds.
In Terra Nostra botanical gardens, the pupils enjoyed a swim in a 40 degrees bright yellow/brown swimming pool that is discoloured by the iron in the water (a very surreal experience), followed by a visit to Gorreana tea plantation – the only place in Europe that grows tea, where there was the opportunity to try lots of tropical and unusual varieties of tea.

The next day was filled with a magical journey on the sea, whale and dolphin spotting. A whole pod of dolphins swam gleefully beside the boat, and to everyone’s excitement a Sperm Whale was even spotted, despite their elusiveness.

On the last day the group visited a lava tube that formed during a previous volcanic eruption in the area, walking through 2 miles of underground tunnels.

Every night the group ate at a local restaurant, experiencing local food from an Azorean buffet that featured a lot of meat and fish. There was even time to watch the England v Sweden game!

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