Fogo is the volcanic island. On the island you have the active Fogo volcano. This is the highlight of Cape Verde to visit. In the crater the volcano is still smoking from its last eruption. Dark and dried lava flows are still very visible. The volcano is surrounded by beautiful fertile landscapes. From vineyards to coffee plantations. And at the foot of the volcano you can admire the beautiful Portuguese mansions in different colors in the town of Sao Filipe. Fogo is a unique experience and recommended for travelers who love impressive landscapes, history and hiking.
Want to know more about Fogo?
On this page you will find more about Fogo. The page is divided into the following topics:
- Cha das Caldeiras and volcanic craters
- Other sights and activities on Fogo
- Food & drinks
- Where to stay on Fogo?
- Best travel time
- Transportation and getting around
- Frequently asked questions
Fogo (meaning: fire) was created a few hundred thousand years ago by the first eruption of the Fogo volcano. Pico do Fogo is located at an altitude of 2,829 meters. In the years 1951, 1995 and 2014 were the last three eruptions of the volcano. A part of the island – on the eastern side – seems to have broken off. Some 73,000 ago, part of the volcano’s crater wall broke off, creating one of the largest tsunamis the world has ever seen. Fogo measures 26 by 25 kilometers and is only 55 kilometers away from the island of Santiago.
The volcanic island of Fogo is home to several native birds and reptiles. The island had been designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The fertile volcanic soil ensures that a large area of the island is green and that there are many coffee plantations growing on the flanks of the volcano. Fogo coffee is world renowned for its quality and aroma. So is the locally produced Manecom wine.
Cha das Caldeiras and volcanic craters
Cha das Caldeiras
This is a highlight of your visit to Fogo (and the Cape Verde Islands). When you visit Cha das Caldeiras you feel like you are on another planet. At about 1,500 meters lies the edge of the caldera plain and the Cha das Caldeiras National Park begins. This is a unique and spectacular landscape on the edge of the crater of the volcano. This edge / plain has an area of 40 km2. From the plain you have a good view of the cones (tops) of the Fogo volcanic eruption of 1995 and 2014. The plain of old black old lava gives a very special feeling. You make your way here through red and ocher colored rocks and interspersed with hardened black colored lava flows. The volcanic soil is so fertile that grape bushes are scattered here and there. Until very recently, two small communities lived in Cha das Caldeiras in the villages of Portela and Bangaeira. They were almost destroyed during the volcanic eruption in 2014, but have now (partly) been rebuilt. The population in the caldera plain are almost all related to each other and are descendants of French Duke Montrond (see paragraph later). The population lives from agriculture, but some people also act as guides for tours to the top of the volcano. On the plain you will also find an information center where various exhibitions can be admired.
Volcano Pico de Fogo
Climbing the still active volcano Fogo is an unique experience. With a guide you can take a walk from Cha das Caldeiras to the large (Pico do Fogo) and / or the small crater (Pico Pequeno) of the volcano. Pico de Fogo is one of the steepest volcanoes in the world. From the Caldeiras plain it is still about 1,000 meters up. The top of the large crater is 2,829 meters above the low-lying cloud cover. The start of the walk is over gravel paths and volcanic ash. The road later continues along rocks of the volcano. From the top you have a breathtaking view. The route back goes from another side of the volcano crater. The descent is fast because you almost run down through the volcanic gravel. In total, the hike to the top of the crater and back takes about 4 to 7 hours. The variety of colors and the beautiful view over the special landscape makes this an experience that you will not forget.
Volcano craters Pico Pequeno and Pico Novo
In the southwest of Cha das Caldeiras are two other volcanic craters. These two craters are a lot less high than Pico do Fogo and the walk / climb is accessible and not difficult. Pico Pequeno was created during the eruption in the year 1995. And Pico Novo is the most recent volcanic crater from 2014. A walk from the village of Portela (Cha das Caldeiras) to both craters and back takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Other sights and activities on Fogo
The capital of Fogo is Sao Filipe. The city of Sao Filipe was founded around the year 1500 and was at the time the second settlement – after Cidade Velha (Santiago) – on the Cape Verde islands. The city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not surprising as it is a great little town with strong Portuguese influences.
You will find the typical Portuguese squares and beautiful pastel colored houses called sobrados. The Cape Verdean atmosphere can be experienced here. You can easily see the entire city in a morning or afternoon. At various places you have a beautiful view over the black sand beach, the sea and you can also see the neighboring island of Brava in the distance. There are also two nice museums to visit in the center. Private museum Casa de Memoria shows how people used to live on Fogo on the basis of photos and objects. And in the Municipal de Sao Filipe museum you can learn more about the daily life of the local inhabitants. In the west of the town you have some shops and simple bars.
Green oasis of Mosteiros
Mosteiros is located in the green northeast of Fogo. Located between the steep mountain slopes and the ocean, this place is often used as a stopover during other activities. In Mosteiros you will find a few old mansions from the colonial past. In the west of the town you can also find an old airport. Mosteiros is best known for its green fertile slopes. Everything grows and blooms above the village. From mangoes, papayas, bananas, jackfruit, to citrus fruits and coffee. Most of Fogo’s coffee also comes from this area. The green slopes of Mosteiros are among the most beautiful areas of Fogo.
The surreal forest of Monte Velha
Higher up on the slopes near Mosteiros, various trees were placed on a large scale in the years around 1940. The northern flank of the volcano is relatively humid and a large forest has developed here over the years. Yellow and green lichens on the trees and the ground create a surreal image. A wonderful place for a walk. The forest of Monte Velha is today one of the largest of the Cape Verde islands.
Natural pool Ponta do Salina
One of the few places where you can swim peacefully in the sea is Ponta do Salina. The old lava from the volcano Fogo has formed a natural pool in the sea. It is located north of Sao Filipe and is a good stop to relax after various walks.
Tour around Fogo island
On the outside of the volcano you can do a nice round of the island. A route of more than 80 kilometers and easy to do in a day. If you leave from Sao Filipe to the west, you will find the southern outer slopes of the volcano. Here you will find beautiful places with views over the island and the sea. At the village of Cova Figueira the route turns north. At a certain point you will pass old remains of solidified lava above the ocean. Very breathtaking! Then you pass Mosteiros. The green oases on the slopes are worth a visit. There is a lot of subtropical plant cultivation here and around the villages of Pau Antonio and Feijoal. The road continues and is passing several small villages. At Ponta do Salina you can take a refreshing dip in the natural swimming pool.
There are several beautiful hikes to make on Fogo. At the volcano itself or a nice descent from the green slopes on the outside of the volcano. You haveprobably never made similar walks before. For hikers, these are a number of nice routes:
- The descent from Caldeira to Mosteiros. Distance: 10 kilometers, walking time: 4 hours;
- Climbing volcano Pico do Fogo. Distance: 7 kilometers, walking time: 7 hours;
- Portela – small volcano. Distance: 7 kilometers, walking time: over 2 hours.
The descendants of the French Duke of Montrond
On Fogo you will find many descendants of the French Duke Montrond. Quite a few residents share certain traits. The French Duke (1870) had 11 children from at least three different women. You can still see the characteristics in the current community. Most inhabitants of the villages of Cha das Caldeiras have blue eyes, light skin and yellowish hair. You can also see this in the last name. Half of the inhabitants have the surname Cha, which stands for Montrond. The Duke was not just on Fogo to multiply. He applied his knowledge in the field of engineering to further develop Fogo. In addition, he started growing grapes and making the now famous wine of Fogo.
Food and drinks
Beside dining in accommodations there are mainly some options of having a nice meal in Sao Filipe. Some nice eateries and cafes are:
- Tropical Club – food and cocktails under the palm trees and in a beautiful garden. There is often live music here on weekends;
- Colonial – here you have a nice terrace in the center to enjoy a drink;
- Sea food – located towards the beach and on a cliff, this is a good seafood restaurant;
- Pipi’s bar – African cuisine and regular live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Where to stay on Fogo?
You can find most accommodations in the main town of Sao Filipe. A large number of lodging options are housed in beautifully restored colonial buildings. Other accommodation options can be find in Mosteiros and Cha das Caldeiras. Here you will only find simple guest houses or homestays (accommodation at private homes). On Sao Filipe, based on price, location and facilities, the following accommodations are recommended. Residencial Luanda, Pousada Bela Vista and Casa Beiramar are centrally located and housed in a beautiful colonial building. If you have a limited budget, a simple guesthouse like Arko Iris or Las Vegas might be a good option.
Best travel time
You can visit Fogo all year round. There is no mass tourism on the island. Probably due to the lack of beaches and sea where you can really swim well. The temperature is pleasant on Fogo all year round. The warmest months are from July to October with an average daytime temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. And with an average of 22 degrees, February and March are the colder months. If you visit the more elevated parts of Fogo, do notforget to bring some warmer clothing such as long trousers and a thin jacket. It can also get very hot. If you want to know more about the weather and climate in Cape Verde, view the extensive overview of the weather in Cape Verde.
Transportation and getting around
For local transport on Fogo you can use a rental car, taxi or aluguer. You can find the alugueres at the market and the town hall in the center of Sao Filipe. The town is not too big, so you don not really have to search. Towards Mosteiros, alugueres depart in the morning and afternoon. If you are going to Cha das Caldeiras, you can also take an aluguer.
By ferry you can go to / from Brava and Santiago. From Praia the crossing takes between 3 to 4 hours. You can buy tickets at the port or online. Verify the departure times carefully before departure, as they can sometimes change. The port of Fogo (Barca Balero) is located a few kilometers north of the town of Sao Filipe.
Frequently asked questions
The last eruption of the volcano Fogo was in 2014. The volcano is certainly active and can erupt again at some point. Lava is not visible now.
Volcanic eruptions on Fogo and the surrounding area have released lava and volcanic minerals into the ocean. Over the centuries, this is broken down, resulting in black sand. Black sand beaches are a lot rarer than white sand beaches.
The fastest way to get to the ‘fire island’ of Fogo is by plane. You then fly to the island of Santiago and from there it is another 30 minutes to Fogo. This is the best and fastest option to travel to Fogo. Fogo is also accessible by ferry, but expect a long and arduous journey.