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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hills, Islets and Caverns - Graciosa Island

The landscape of Graciosa attracts and fascinates the visitor. It is made up of plains, round hills covered with trees, vineyards lying between dark stone walls, chequered fields of tilled land and the constant presence of the blue sea. What also attracts and fascinates is the atmosphere of calm isolation that is lived and felt, the unusual situation of an island that is almost cut off from the world and where life maintains the rhythm of the seasons.

The hills
With the names of Serra Dormida, Serra Branca and Serra das Fontes, these hills are like belvederes, affording views of the island and sea. Low-lying the altitude of Pico Timão is only 398 metres while that of Serra do Facho is 375 metres - with soft curved lines, covered with their original vegetation of beech-trees, heather, incense, vinhático and also Japanese cedars, they are the natural framework for restful walks, communion with Nature and quiet picnics.

The islets
Rocks inhabited by birds that crop out in the sea, they are one of the charms of Graciosa, surprises that await the visitor at the end of a bay or a cape. The most suggestive is Baleia (literally, Whale), which looks like a giant mammal anchored by the shore. The others have names such as Bordo do Pico, Gaivotas, Pesqueira, Vermelho, Comprido, Grande and Agulha.

The caverns
The insides of the island can be viewed from other places, less spectacular than the Sulphur Cavern (Furna do Enxofre) no doubt, but still fascinating. Because here and there you will find more or less deep fissures that invite braver persons to discover the secrets of the volcanic formation of Graciosa. Such is the case of the caverns (Furnas) of Bolos, Linheiro, Manuel d'Avila, Lembradeira, Queimado, Labarda, Cardo, Cão, Gato, Castelo, Calcinhas, Vermelho, Urze, Furada and Luis. Recommended: equipament and a guide.

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