This is Simon & Emelie! We would like to share our story about our time here in the Azores and hopefully inspire you to do the same trip as we did!
We are two Swedish students, working in the field of Adventure Tourism, and have for the last six months been fortunate enough to work for Paulo and his team at Fun Activities, as part of our internship here in the Azores.
It all started out back in February last year, as we were starting to plan for our internship that was supposed to begin in the summer. We were looking for places like Hawaii, Cyprus, Tenerife, Spain etc; places that could offer a wide variety of activities such as Climbing, snorkelling, bike tours, diving etc. As we were searching, we stumbled across a video of an island with scenes of dramatic nature, waterfalls, volcanos, blue water, “rain forests” … like something taken out of the Jurassic Park movie basically.
Upon further investigation, we discovered, that this was all found on the little island of Sao Miguel, which was part of Portugal, and was actually one of a group of islands that formed the Azores archipelago, a place described as the adventurers Mecca! And as a bonus it didn’t cost us a fortune to get there!
We were so excited that we had just found exactly what we were looking for and immediately started to look for places to work there! We were looking for a company that offered a wide variety of activities, such as canyoning, climbing, trail-walking, snorkelling, kayaking, cycling, etc and a company that promoted sustainable Tourism, in terms of doing something that does not impact nature in a negative way.
After searching for a while, we noticed that a certain company stood out from all the others…This was Fun Activities Azores Adventure! We jumped on the email and started to form a personal letter in the hopes that they would accept us!
And accept us they did! Unfortunately, by the time we got confirmation, the news that Covid-19 had just started to spread around the world, came out. We had been planning on arriving on the island in late June, but due to the pandemic we had to wait for the go ahead to fly.
Fast forward to the summer! We had just come home from our course in Arctic Guiding in August, where we had climbed Sweden’s tallest mountain, in the region of Lapland, when we got confirmation that we were now free to travel! So, in a matter of two weeks, we had to take vaccinations, repack our bags and take the Covid tests. We both tested Negative and on August 20, we got to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, with a 10-hour flight ahead of us.
We arrived in Ponta Delgada at midnight, where Paulo, our new boss and mentor, welcomed us at the airport. He took us out for a quick bite to eat before dropping us off at our new home for the next few months. He had even brought us a locally grown melon as a welcoming gift, which was delicious!
We had our first proper taste of what Sao Miguel had to offer the following weekend, when we went out to explore and get to know the island and the city of Ponta Delgada better.
On Monday, we finally got to meet some of the guides at the warehouse, where we were then invited to join Ricardo for our first guided tour; Kayaking to Vila Franca do Campo Islet. This is when we knew, without a doubt, that we were in the right place and in good hands!
During our stay here we’ve managed to explore a lot of São Miguel’s hidden treasures…it’s not hard really! Wherever you go, around every corner of this island there is something jaw-dropping to see. It’s almost overwhelming at times. A huge waterfall here, a gorgeous viewpoint there and look! there is a tropical forest over there! and don’t get me started about all the trails! Your choices are endless, its truly a nature lovers paradise here.
Back in September, our team, together with @Lifeipazoresnatura, celebrated Coastal Cleanup Day by cleaning up the beach at “Zona Balnear das Calhetas”, where we collected 34kg of garbage.
We’ve had the opportunity to learn what goes on behind the scenes in the world of adventure tourism, thanks to João, who taught us all he could about photography, film-making, editing and profiling.
Paulo did an outstanding job at teaching us about Canyoning; How to rig anchors, ascend and descend from hanging ropes, how the equipment works, how to avoid mistakes, how to work in a safe manner, ways to use a rope etc. Under his supervision and guidance, we practiced these techniques in the warehouse and after gaining some confidence, we also had training sessions outside canyoning together. All of this will definitely come in handy in our future.
All the activities that we have been doing with Fun Activities have been awesome, and the guides here are just great! Also, and I believe I speak for both of us when I say this, Canyoning is the one activity that’s been the most amazing experience for us during our stay here. To be able to listen to the stories of our guests, what brought them here, why they are doing this and opening up about their fears, all while being surrounded with the best nature has to offer.
It’s so rewarding to see all our guests that are facing their fears and how happy they are afterwards, when they realize what they’ve just accomplished! That’s what matters to us as guides, and that is why we chose to do our course in Adventure Tourism in the first place. That is why we love what we do!
What’s even more rewarding, is when you have guides like Paulo and João explaining your surroundings; the nature, the flora and history of the place, as we are following a path or a river. It’s very inspiring as a student/intern to watch someone doing all of this with such passion!
They are truly living up to their slogan – We love what we do and we want to share it with you!
Working abroad has really been life-changing, and so rewarding in so many ways. It’s been an amazing learning experience for both of us. We’ve met so many new people and friends. I learned so much about the Portuguese culture, guiding techniques, stepping out of our comfort-zones and of course, growing our self-esteem and gaining confidence through this adventurous working experience.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and on the 29th of January we will be flying back home to Sweden. We will be leaving with our backpacks stuffed and our hearts full of experiences, knowledge and plans for our next adventures! We will definitely be coming back here in the future, and we hope that we will get to meet some of you visiting here as well!
If you’d like to see more about our time here in Sao Miguel, you can follow us on our adventures on instagram @Almenontour & @Empilainen where we post frequently.
With that being said!
We want to thank Paulo and the team so much for this opportunity and for taking us in under their wing! You’ve given us so much inspiration, experiences, knowledge and opportunities, we don’t really know how to re-pay you for this! We’ve felt so welcome here, and met so many incredible people. It’s been a great honor to work for you at Fun Activities Azores Adventure!
Take care/Hej då!
Simon Almén & Emelie Gustavsson.