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“Both East and West tours - Highly recommended at the start of multi-day vacation (long review)”
Review of Azorean Tours

Azorean Tours
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Gary Travassos Azores Private Tours, Hiking Tours & Taxi Transfers Personalized Car & Van Tours to see the most beautiful places on the island of Sao Miguel,Azores. In my page, you can find over 1000 photos, videos, and interesting information about the Azores (especially for Sao Miguel Island, where I live and work on). We execute Taxi Transfers on the island, from and to the Airport, and to the Hiking trails, and too any other destination on the island of Sao Miguel. We also offer some Hiking Tours to some places on Sao Miguel Island. The way to travel on the Azores!!!
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed July 12, 2017

I selected this tour operator based on feedback from my mother who used his tour services a few years ago when visiting the island... my parents are originally from this island and left ~50 years ago. The recommendation came with the claim that my parents were shown aspects and locations of the island they were not even aware of, even having spent their entire early lives there.

Gary the tour operator/owner booked the 2 tour dates (east and west tours... I forget the numbers) and I am glad it ended up being very early in our trip. Email communication prior to the trip was efficient and prompt. I'm now convinced that even phone communication would have been perfect, as his English is absolutely flawless. The day after our arrival, we were scheduled for the West end tour (Sete Cidades etc.) but when he arrived at our hotel he informed us he was switching them around due to poor weather conditions that morning (poor meaning thick cloud cover). We did the east tour first. The information was great and I learned a tremendous amount about the locations we visited. We visited some spots I was not expecting to see (some gorgeous waterfalls!) and even in cases where I had seen photos prior to the trip, they did not do the experience justice because in person it was quite extraordinary. Gary handled the lunch plans at Furnas which was great because I did not realize one had to reserve early. I had visited a fraction of these sites back in 1985 during my first visit but with the additional information even these all seemed brand new (I mean, it was nonetheless 32 years ago!). Yes you can find some of these spots on your own with a map, but the whole point of a guided tour is the "guided" part and being free to look around and shoot photos without having to stress over driving and maps, etc. not to mention the benefit of background information. On that topic, Gary not only researches the locations in a thorough fashion but he also incorporates stories and info gathered from prior residents who return to visit many years later (as with my parents). It also helps that he's a pretty pleasant guy to be around.

The greatest thing about doing such a tour early on in a visit, is that one is then free to rent a car and revisit some of the places that one finds most interesting, or even explore a bit now that one has an idea of the area. This is what we did on our "day off".

The second tour day covered the western portion. Gary is prompt in his start times, and I have to mention that he did not give the impression of "counting the minutes"... there were times I was concerned I was abusing his allotted tour time and things were getting late in the day (I don't recall an exact tour end time, I'll be honest). He appears fairly flexible... at the Sete Cidades visit we ended up exploring the abandoned hotel which turned out to be quite the fascinating aspect of our tour... quite unexpected. A visit to a tea house operated by a relative for a mid-trip break was the sort of stuff you won't get on a big-bus-style company tour.

By this point the weather was outstanding so Gary made the right decision in swapping tours because both days ended up absolutely gorgeous and I had the tan to prove it. After stopping at some lookouts along the north shore (which gave us ideas for further visits in the coming days) we visited a few more waterfalls and managed to get a fantastic view up at Lagoa do Fogo. Again, Gary is quite flexible and granted me the ability to shoot photos from the antenna lookout, which allows one to photograph both sides of the island simultaneously it's that high.

Furthermore there are practically no moments of silence in Gary's presence. Do not expect long awkward stretches of silence between stops, like on big-bus tours when the guide switches off the microphone. There is always information being delivered in some way.

The equipment itself seemed in perfect shape. Being a car guy I was hoping for the Mercedes sedan (because it looked good on photos) but I'm glad he brought a van because not only did it make it easy to see out of during the driving portions but it also made entry and exit much easier for a family of 4. It also made it easier for me to manipulate my camera bag... being in a car would have been too cramped.

Gary is also quite good at parking in tight spots. :)

In summary, I had no doubt about getting my money's worth on both tours and no reservation about the tip I gave him at the end nor about buying him lunch both times. The timing was right, we learned more than enough about the island both tours early on and this allowed the rest of the vacation to be out of this world with all the additional driving we did on our own. Without these tours so early on in our stay, it would not have been anywhere near the outstanding vacation we ended up having.

A note to potential visitors about the weather: as has been mentioned in other reviews, Gary nor anyone else cannot control the weather. However, as a visitor I *CAN* control when I schedule my visit to the island. I spent a LOT of time researching the weather cycles before choosing my visit dates. I was aware of the rainy season and the days where temperatures are very hot and humid. I also chose my length of stay to allow for the potential of a few rain days so that we had some wiggle room in our sight-seeing activities (which turned out not to be the case so instead we ended up with 9 straight gorgeous days). This was an expensive (for us) trip and I made the effort to set it up such as to minimize the chances of it going to waste. While not everyone has that luxury, it is something to keep in mind. (it's really not much different than when someone books a Florida vacation during hurricane season, and complains that it rained too often).

Wishing Gary all the best and for continued growth of his business and good health to his family.

2  Thank TripleTransAm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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45 - 49 of 559 reviews

Reviewed June 28, 2017

Gary was punctual, accommodating, fun and a wealth of information.
We booked a full day tour and a half day tour and Gary shuttled us from the airport to our hotels. On the days that we were on our own he made great suggestions for beaches, sites and restaurants. I would highly recommend Azorean Tours.

Thank lilyz9123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 14, 2017

Gary was waiting for us as we got off the ship and our wonderful day in Ponta Delgada began! We were a private party of 6 with 2 10 year old's and everyone loved the day with Gary. From views, craters, tea plantation, and countryside the day was perfect. Gary is very knowledgeable on the history and the pace of the day was just right. I would highly recommend his company if you are looking to stay away from the large ship excursions.

Thank Braysmomma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 7, 2017

We originally booked two half day tours and added a third just so we could fit everything in. Sao Miguel is an unbelievable island. Gary really knows everything about his home; it's history, it's politics and the best places to go for lunch no matter where we were. He and everyone who did our airport transfers were on time, very friendly, informative and above all , friendly and fun. We got to know Sao Miguel so well in a week we want to move there. Hat's off to you Gary! Fantastic job!

Thank marshalett626
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed June 4, 2017

We thought our fantastic tours of Madeira last year would be hard to match; but these guys managed it.

We loved Tour 1 so much we booked Tour 2 for a few days later. We had the same excellent driver Marco, who really knows and loves his island. Clearly he is respected by other guides and restauranteurs etc and he was extremely knowledgeable - for example on the visit to the tea factory where he knew everything about the entire process and history.

He took us to many beautiful and amazing places and was always courteous, punctual and never rushed. (We saw other other tours speeding by us, missing the secret viewspots and picture points that Marco knew). This company doesn't run or work to deadlines or rigid schedules - they run to a timeline that the customer wants. And it's private - no-one else in the car/suv.

Booking online with the boss Gary was simple and efficient and all in all

Thank jamiemay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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