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Cape Verde: São Vicente, Santo Antão and Fogo

Cape Verde Island Hopping São Vicente, Santo Antão and Fogo

Overview

Cape Verde is an island country off the coast of Africa, comprising of ten volcanic islands. On this amazing walking tour, you will discover the beauty of three of them and enjoy unforgettable encounters with the locals. The island of São Vicente is a desert that flows into the ocean and is home to the picturesque colonial town of Mindelo, the cultural capital of Cabo Verde. The island of Santo Antão is comprised of deep valleys with lush, tropical terraced crops, while the arid foothills boast imposing basalt cliffs. The walks lead you through hamlets where you will hear the music you will want to dance to – Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. And finally, to the island of Fogo, a small black pearl in the middle of the ocean. When you arrive at the Caldera at the foot of the impressive Pico you will discover a lunar landscape and traces of lava flows dating from the last volcanic eruption in November 2014, which completely covered the original village.

Highlights

  • Discover three spectacular and very different islands
  • Some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country
  • Fontainhas in Santo Antão
  • Pico do Fogo, a volcano that boasts the tallest peak on all the collective Cape Verde islands and has a breathtaking crater

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Mindelo, São Vicente Island

Upon arrival at São Vicente Airport transfer to your accommodation in Mindelo for an overnight. Mindelo is a port town and hometown of the famous singer Cesaria Evora.

  • Overnight in Aparthotel in Mindelo

Day 2: São Vicente – the Paul Valley, Santo Antão Island

Transfer to the ferry port for a crossing to Santo Antão. (~1 hour). Upon arrival in Porto Novo, a taxi will transfer you to Vila das Pombas. This hike crosses the splendid Paul Valley, one of the greenest on the island and descends through hamlets and terraced crops of sugar cane, banana, and coffee trees. On the crests of Pico Antonia, take the time to admire the magnificent view of the Paul Valley. Along the way, try a glass of local liquor, a speciality of Santo Antão! Transfer to Ponta do Sol for an overnight.

Day 3:  Fontainhas – Cruzinha

Transfer to Fontainhas, the start of your coastal hike. You follow an incredible path carved in the rock to the village of Corvo and then take the coastal path passing through abandoned villages. Just before the village of Cruzinha you will see a beautiful black sand beach but swimming is prohibited because of the very strong currents. In Cruzinha transfer to the village of Pedracin, where you will stay for 2 nights.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 5 hours, ↑­­­­650 m ↓650 m
  • Overnight in Boca de Coruja farmhouse

Day 4: The Ribeira Grande Valley

This morning the hike starts from your hotel to reach the splendid Ribeira Grande valley and its fantastic landscapes. Your hike will pass through terraced crops and colourful gardens with banana trees, mango trees, sweet potatoes, guavas and coffee trees. You go on through the valleys to reach your accommodation.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 4-5 hours, ↑­­­­500 m ↓500 m
  • Overnight in Boca de Coruja farmhouse

Day 5: Jao Aflonso Valley – Cova – Ribeira das Patas

Today’s hike offers multiple landscapes, taking you on a paved path, then through corn and Sislas crops. You will then cross crests to arrive in a forest of pine and eucalyptus trees. A transfer will take you to the western part of the island with a stop at the splendid Cova crater for a few minutes and then the drive continues to the village of Curral das Vacas, where you will find your accommodation for the next two nights in a guest house known for its very warm welcome.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 5 hours, ↑­­­­1200 m ↓100 m
  • Overnight in Casa Santos Pinto guesthouse

Day 6: The Bordeira

This will be the most beautiful hike on the island, a very arid landscape with an impressive winding old paved path that takes you to the summit and offers a spectacular view of the valley and the island of São Vicente. This hike will probably be one of your most beautiful trip memories.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 5-6 hours, ↑­­­­700 m ↓700 m
  • Overnight in Casa Santos Pinto guesthouse

Day 7: Curral das Vacas – Mindelo, São Vicente Island

Today you follow a path bordering the western foothills of the Cirque de Ribeira das Patas, above a gorge dominated by mineral cliffs. Gardens of mango, papaya and banana trees, bougainvillea, beautiful hamlets, and sugar cane fields mark your itinerary. Transfer to Porto Novo and catch a ferry back to Mindelo on São Vicente Island. Transfer to your hotel in Mindelo for an overnight.

  • Walking for the day: 7 km, 3 hours, ↑­­­­600 m ↓300 m
  • Overnight in Aparthotel in Mindelo

Day 8: São Vicente Island – Fogo Island

Transfer to Mindelo airport. Flight to Fogo Island (not included). Upon arrival at Fogo airport, your taxi driver takes you to the volcano (2000 m above sea level) through countryside and colourful hamlets. You arrive at the Casa Marisa hostel in Cha das Caldeiras, where you will spend the next 2 nights.

Day 9: Pico Ascent

You climb the Majestic Pico (2892 m) with a local guide and explore the crater. You lunch at the hostel (payment on the spot) then have some free time afterwards to rest before leaving for a short circuit in a lava tunnel. Return to your hostel for an overnight.

  • Walking for the day: 4 hours, ↑­­­­1000 m ↓1000 m
  • Overnight in Casa Marisa

Day 10: Caldeira – Sao Filipe

Hiking from the crater northwards; crossing eucalyptus forests and Monte Velha mimosas. Descend to the village of Mosteiros nestled above the ocean with its coffee, banana and sugar cane crops. Transfer and overnight in São Filipe.

Day 11: Departure

After breakfast, transfer to São Filipe airport and departure.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in a mix of charming hotels and guesthouses. They all have private en-suite rooms and provide a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. Some have a swimming pool. The guesthouses offer more basic facilities, but their authenticity provides for a truly local experience. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. Any change of accommodation may lead to a price change. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All breakfasts are included as well as 7 picnics (on Days 2, 3, 4, 5,  6, 7 and 10) and one lunch at Casa Marisa (Day 9) and 6 dinners. Dinners, where not included, are available at the overnight accommodations or in the towns. Picnic lunches can be ordered on the spot or ordered in advance at the accommodations where no meal facilities are available.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes daily walks of 3-5 hours and an average ascent/descent of 100 to 1200 metres per walk (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are not well waymarked, but we will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from November to June. Best months to visit are February – March and September – October as in summer months it becomes too hot for walking.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Recommended arrival airport: Cesária Évora Airport on São Vicente Island. Departure from São Filipe Airport.

  • Arrival and departure transfers included.

Inclusions

Included

  • 10 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • 6 dinners on Days 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9
  • 8 lunches (7 picnics + 1 lunch at Casa Marisa)
  • All transfers indicated in the programme
  • Ferry between Sao Vicente Island and Santo Antão Island 
  • Luggage transfer when changing hotels (one piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
  • Detailed route notes
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and domestic flight from São Vicente Island to Fogo Island
  • Lunches and dinners not mentioned as included, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers

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