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The smallest of the islands in the Azores archipelago is Corvo. Isolated in the western section of the chain and neglected by most travelers to the Azores, Corvo has surprised me. Prior to coming to Corvo all I really had to go off was photographs. Indeed, the most impressive was one with the volcanic crater lake which engulfs most of the island. I was expecting to be impressed but never did I imagine to find this volcanic crater to be the most impressive of them all.
Corvo only has one town and the population of his island is roughly between 450-470 people. The only town is at the port and the crater-lake is accessed by 10 minute taxi at the top of the island. When we arrived in Corvo with 14 other tourists (taxi will be waiting in anticipation of arrivals – see “Getting to Corvo” at bottom) there was a mini-van waiting. The price to the top and down (if you don’t wish to walk down) is €5 per person.
At the top the cloud line was hitting the rim of the crater. From the top we could not see the interior, but as we descended our eyes came to life. The crater lakes are almost all separated by hills of grass. The walls of the crater appear in different colors due to the grazing patterns of the cows that spend their time in the Cadeirão. The entire image is something out of a storybook. Pictures do a good job of capturing the beauty but it is most certainly something you have to experience yourself. Please be wary of the terrain though as it is not as it appears.
The terrain from above looks like lust grass fields you might want to frolic through but, they are not. The descent and ascent on the terrain may be very wet, muddy and splattered with cow feces, so watch your step.
Corvo and the Azores have only become tourist destinations in the last several years so there is still much to improve in terms of making things easier for tourists. The caldeirão is gorgeous but the locals see it as a place for their cows to feed freely. The grass fields at the bottom are pot holed in mud, water, and again, the feces of cows.
Some cows have horns and you will have to pass by at a short distance but, don’t worry because they never threatened anyone that I saw and remained perfectly calm as me and Jonny passed near them.
Some travelers took off their shoes because the ground was so soft. There are natural areas with water for you to wash your feet after but due to the large amount of deification we decided to keep our shoes on. Proper hiking boots will be perfect. Bringing typical sub-ankle level shoes will run you the risk of becoming very dirty and I do not recommend porous or thin material based shoes.
The walk down from the caldeirão will be enjoyed should you have time. The boats will not leave without you and should you decide to walk there will be places to take photos; in particular the miradouros overlooking the town.
The walk down from the caldeirão is easy and there is only one road which is always descending. I cannot recommend either walking or taking transport down because it is a personal preference. I was with a friend so we talked and passed the time well while enjoying the sights.
Note: the walk will take about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.
Getting to Corvo is only done by flight with SATA or by chartered small boat from Flores Island. Online I had found information stating that Atlanticoline traveled everyday between Flores and Corvo for €10. However, when I arrived in Flores I discovered that no such trip exists. Or at least none of the locals knew of this transit which means it is probably a very rare occurrence much like the rare trip between Faial Island (middle group of islands) and Flores.
A flight with SATA will cost about €35 but make sure to select “Tourist in the Azores” for a nice discount. The trip by boat will cost you anywhere from €15 to €30 depending on a few things; if it be a one way or a round trip; sightsee the Flores coast prior to heading to Corvo; and who you decide to book with and perhaps time of the year.
In my case I was going to camp one night so I purchased a one-way ticket with sightseeing of the Flores coast for €20. Please note, these trips must be prearranged one or more days in advance and I highly recommend the Flores coast sightseeing trip + Corvo island combo.
Overall, Corvo is an absolute must visit just for the Cadeirão. I found it to be the most spectacular of all the islands I’ve visited in the Azores. Only tranquility and beauty decorates Corvo. Here is a link for a quick 360 degree view from where I am standing in the picture below.
A very special thank you to one of my oldest friends, Jonny, whom I was able to share this incredible journey with through our countries islands. Um abraço.
Note: A Portuguese friend of mine visited the cadeirao of Corvo in August and said she was not impressed because the lakes were almost completely dried up. Be forewarned that this result is possible when going in the later months of the summer. Perhaps the best time is right after Spring. In my case the Azores had been drenched more than usual in the spring of 2016 which may have added to the ‘fill’ of the lakes.