AZORES: WHALE & DOLPHIN WATCHING

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

I will never forget being perched at the front of a small boat, enjoying the antics of the dolphins (common then bottle nose), when they were swimming under the boat then undulating across the waves and even jumping right out. I took loads of pictures and films, knowing that three quarters of them would be ditched as there's only so much wave action you want to keep (none?). But then you have the pleasure of discovering that precious photo of a mum and baby dolphin jumping out together. Pleasure at the time and pleasure when I got back. Smiles all around.

What did you think of your group leader?

We had two group leaders, Nuno on Pico and Faial islands, and Bruno on Sao Miguel island. They were both marvellous in their own individual ways. Nuno was adorable and couldn't do enough for us, while Bruno was so enthusiastic I thought he would jump right out of his seat. They were both extremely knowledgeable both in terms of local information and languages, their English was perfect (and their French wasn't bad either). They both went out of their way to help us discover those islands and their hidden treasures (like Peter's cafe in Horta, which became my HQ as it had a wonderful atmosphere and free wifi). Similarly, when I asked to see something which wasn't on the menu, it was no problem for them. Both top class guys.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Do bring good waterproofs (including boots) as if it rains, it pours buckets. I regret to say I wasn't prepared enough (though I thought I was) and got soaked a few times. But hey, that's part of traveling, there will always be something unexpected, even if you've done max prep.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Be prepared not to see the whales so you won't be too disappointed if they don't turn up. See them as the cherry on the cake (some cherry!). The cake is the dolphins, the volcanos, the caldeiras, the plants, the birds, the people, the cafe, the hot springs, the rock formations, the lakes, and yes even the weather as when it's nice it is very very nice.