Located on the south coast of Terceira Island in the Azores archipelago, Monte Brasil is an extensive, densely wooded park whose fauna and flora are protected 🌳. It was formed by the felling of a cone from an ancient volcano that was originated in the sea and is protected by the Fortress of São João Baptista 🏰, a building that still houses the Angra do Heroísmo Regiment.
Monte Brasil is located in the parish of Sé in the city and municipality of Angra do Heroísmo, the capital and the most important city on the island of Terceira. It extends to the sea side forming the peninsula of Monte Brasil and it’s possible to see it from several points on the south coast of the island. Due to its privileged location, from its height the beautiful panoramic view of the city, the marina and the sea conquers all its visitors.
It’s believed that the basaltic eruption of the volcano 🌋 that gave rise to Monte Brasil occurred more than 20 thousand years ago and that it would have caused big explosions and burning clouds. This eruption, which is believed to have been of an underwater volcano, resulted in the accumulation of ash by direct fall of the expelled material, which led to the creation of a sheltered creek, that is, the Monte Brasil peninsula. It was due to this “sheltered creek” that the city of Angra do Heroísmo got its name. With the addition of this peninsula to Terceira Island, it gained approximately 500 meters in length and 500 meters in width.
Until the end of the 16th century, Monte Brasil was surrounded by the Spanish who built the São João Baptista Castle at the entrance. It constituted a true fortress and one of the largest Atlantic fortifications of the time, whose main objective was to protect the region from attacks by pirates and privateers who wanted the conquests brought from the boats that came from America.
Nowadays, Monte Brasil is a Nature Reserve and all its fauna, flora and marine area are protected and belong to the Forest Park of Terceira Island. There are several duly signposted trails 🚶♀️ that go around Monte Brasil passing through its four main viewpoints: Pico das Cruzinhas, Pico do Facho, Pico da Quebrada (where the whale watch is located) and Pico do Zimbreiro.
When to visit and prices
First of all, visiting Monte Brasil is free! 🤑 In my opinion I would say that the Monte Brasil routes are friendly to be done at any time of the year as long as the weather is favorable. It’s advisable that it’s a clear day and that it’s not raining torrentially since some of the paths are mud and in the middle of vegetation. When it’s raining, the mud stays all wet and it must not be pleasant to do a route like this.
The Monte Brasil Trail
It is 7.4km long on steep climbs and descents, with an average time of 2h30. According to the trail guide, it has a medium difficulty but I was aiming more for a difficult one because there are areas that aren’t easy to access. I would say that the worst part is even the access to Forte da Quebrada that you need to go down some stairs on mud that is falling apart. It’s a circular route given that it completely circles the caldera of the old volcano that gave rise to Monte Brasil.
We went on the Monte Brasil trail right after lunch to ensure that we finished the itinerary with a light sky. It was quite sunny but the temperature didn’t exceed 20 degrees celsius although the thermal sensation should be around that value. Be prepared that the entrance to Monte Brasil is all uphill but, from my point of view, very easy taking in consideration what I now know it was ahead. Passing through the area of the Fortress of São João Baptista, right next to the entrance of the trail, the guard who was there greeted and saluted us. We returned the greeting and continued on our way. The entire route is well identified and in some places the signs aren’t visible at first sight because they are more unlit or hidden by a tree and it’s necessary to look carefully in order to avoid leaving the trail. When we started to climb to the most central area of Monte Brasil we started to have a very pleasant company: deer and chickens. You can understand that they are super used to human interaction so they didn’t hide from us. In addition, there was also a parrot that literally said hello! It was so cute and unexpected that we were super happy when we heard the parrot talking to us.
We resumed the route and that’s when it started to get a lot harder… we went to Forte da Quebrada and, for you to understand the difficulty of the route, we even wondered if we were on the right path 🤣. Fortunately, later we met a couple who were also doing the route and we were more relieved.
We did the whole journey in about two and a half hours and we had few stops in between to rest. We were just making a few stops to enjoy the wonderful views of the city of Angra do Heroísmo from the top.
- Comfortable clothes and shoes
- Take water to hydrate yourself along the way
- Don’t get off the rail! Always follow the signs on the plates.
Monte Brasil is a must-see on the island of Terceira in the Azores and is really worth it. The route is very hard and the legs are throbbing half way but it’s an excellent option to explore nature. Monte Brasil is a masterpiece of nature that imparts an awesome sense of tranquility to all who visit it.
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