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Discover Experience

Sao Jorge, Portugal
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Discover Experience
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MikeKHyde wrote a review 11 Nov
Hyde138 contributions123 helpful votes
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I was on an island-hopping tour of the Azores, trying out some of the walking trails created by the government to attract members of the global hiking community. They are similar to the long-distance walks in the UK like the Pennine Way. However, in the Azores, they seem to be sited quite a distance from the main towns on the islands. So you usually have to make your own way to the start points and back from the finish to your accommodation. And that's where you meet your first major obstacle - how to do this? Public transport is just above primitive, usually rare and early-finishing. If you rent a car that is a significant extra cost to your holiday. Anecdotally, the tourist information office will advise you to arrange for a local taxi service to take you to the start point and advise you to arrange with the driver to pick you up at where you intend to finish and when. If you are hiking here in the Azores for the first time, that is a tremendous "leap of faith". If anything goes wrong with you or your taxi, you are well and truly stranded. Who wants to spend an unexpected night in a bus shelter? It is of little consolation that there are no "wild", dangerous animals on these islands . So what to do? Fortunately, there are many little companies offering their services as hiking guides and on Sao Jorge, "Discovery Experience" is a name you frequently come across and I was fortunate to have two days with them during my stopover there. The company is made up of Dina Nunes and Jorge Santos, a local couple that have been born and bred on the island but do not lack a worldly-wise outlook on life - Jorge is an ex-military man who has seen service for his country in some of Portugal's "hot spot" former colonies and Dina has done business studies at university in Lisbon. My first day was with Jorge when the two of us did part of the "Fajã de São João - Lourais - Fajã dos Vimes". At the start, I was a little perturbed about Jorge's description of the walk as I imagined it to be a "there-and-back" walk. In this, I was mistaken, as Dina, who drove us to the start point, was going to take the minibus and meet us at the end , whenever we arrived. For me the fact that my concerns about the "open-ended" nature of the hike and the unknown nature of the trail itself were so quickly addressed, it made me feel that my guides were professional and more than competent to deal with any unforeseen problems that might occur during the day. The walk itself was quite challenging for me as we started at sea level, went as high as 450 metres and then went down to sea level again. During this 10 km walk, I found Jorge to be an extremely genial guide and it was not long before we felt comfortable in each other's company and chatted about our own lives and the people in them. He was also full of information about the island - the people, the plants, the geology, the history etc... That is how I learned of his military experience and the fact that he is a member of the island's volunteer fire brigade - he showed me a video on his mobile that was a "live" exercise that he had participated in the night before with the rest of the island's emergency services and military forces. If I'd had any remaining doubts about his capabilities, they vanished. When we got to Faja dos Vimes, Dina was waiting for us with the minibus as expected. While Jorge went off to jump into the Atlantic ocean to cool off, Dina took me to the coffee plantation that her family own for a much-needed cool, soft drink and a sample of the organic coffee they make there. The taste of this coffee that is made on Europe's only coffee plantation is well worth a visit. If you catch Dina in a talkative mood, she'll take you on a tour of the plantation and its fruit groves and you might even see her mother at work on one of the handbuilt looms that she uses to create her unique woven blankets. The next day, Dina took me on a hike along the trail between Faja dos Cubres and the Faja de Caldeira, a coastal walk that suited me after the previous day's exertions. She was just as talkative and easygoing company as her partner Jorge and put up with my frequent stops as another photo opportunity presented itself. This is a truly spectacular coastal walk and is well-worth it's reputation. When you get to the little church of Ermida de Santo Cristo that has been built on this headland of volcanic lava rock and have a drink of coffee in the local bar - the "Taberna Conves" - it is easy to relax and watch the surfers ride the waves that reach the shore here. Unfortunately for me we had to go back along the trail to where we had parked the minibus, as Jorge was on fireman duties that day. Still, it did not seem to take as long to do as the outward walk - probably because of my continued state of wellbeing ! So it came as no surprise that "Discover Experience" cover activities such as canyoning, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, boat trips and island touring. You cannot wish for better local guides and their love of their island is palpable in the way they talk about it. They are obviously known by the locals if the number of friendly waves their minibus attracted is anything to go by. The good thing about them is that they tailor your experience with them to what you can do, rather than what you think you can do. As Jorge said to me, "That way you limit the chances of unforeseen accidents occurring". After finishing my walk with him,I was absolutely knackered but I was riding high on the adrenalin rush of completing the walk for days afterwards !!
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Date of experience: October 2021
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Gleb wrote a review Oct 2021
Greater Poland Province, Poland4 contributions
Captivating moments not to describe in words You have to feel it like meeting Serafin Brasil and his wife and dog her eyes moved me intensively. Wonderful experience ! Guide Jorge and his wife Dina and nephew we felt with Them like with family. They proffesionaly took Care about us during cycling and hiking. Jorge is like medical doctor his advise helped my husband with ears problems ! Wonderful company with true wonderful people from Sau Jorge. they will be in our hearts forever thank You for amazing unforgettable moments with views and moving luck moments it was the most intensive gripping moment during our 3 weeks in The Azores thank to our guide Jorge ... thank You dr Vaselin Mrs Cotton and Sergio 😍
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Date of experience: August 2021
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Ellen C wrote a review Jul 2021
Ireland2 contributions
Jorge was a fountain of knowledge and prioritised the fun of the group. We then went on a little bus tour and got a good local perspective of the Island He also took plenty of photos and videos for us.
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Date of experience: July 2021
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CGonzalez wrote a review Jul 2021
Porto, Portugal2 contributions1 helpful vote
Great experiences with Dina And Jorge!! Sea kayak, canyoning, tracking … nature adventure with knowledge and always keeping safety protocols.
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Date of experience: May 2021
1 Helpful vote
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Ella Vannoote wrote a review Nov 2020
1 contribution
It was amazing they took pictures and videos of us. If you many could send them to: ellavannoote@gmail.com
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Date of experience: August 2020
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