On the east coast of Sal are the salt mines of Pedra de Lume. In a moon like crater of an old volcano seawater turns into salt. The colors of the salt pans are surrealistic. The white and bright pink salt pans contrast with the snow-white salt mountains and the blue sky. You can also float in the medicinal salt water of the salt pans. For even more relaxation there are also scrub and mud treatments. Not for nothing Salinas Pedra de Lume is a popular destination in Cape Verde to visit.
The crater – where the salt pans are situated – has a radius of no less than 900 meters. The crater is an old extinct volcano. The highest point of the crater (the edge) is 39 meters above sea level, while the lowest point is far below sea level. The base of the crater is therefore the lowest point of the Cape Verde islands. The salt lake has formed naturally in the crater by infiltration of water from the nearby ocean. The salt lake is divided into salt pans (basins), so that the sun can easily evaporate the water. Eventually the natural product salt remains. Because of the natural conditions the water is 27 times (!) saltier than seawater. If you are going to swim, you will automatically stay afloat. A unique experience!
Origin Salinas de Pedra de Lume
The salt pans are dated to 1833 when an old mineral salt was discovered at Sal. The challenge was to transport the salt from the high crater to the boats in the port of Pedra de Lume. First, transport via animals was used. In 1921, eventually a cable car served as a solution. This cable car was 1,100 meters long and had a capacity of 25 tons of salt per hour. Old parts of the wooden frame of the cable car are still visible. Later a tunnel was made through the wall of the old crater, which facilitated access. The production of salt on this scale has not been active since 1985. In addition to the salt pans, there are still a few old houses of workers, a salt production factory and storage places to admire. Currently there is still salt winning but to a very limited extent. This is mainly intended for the manufacture of beauty products, for therapeutic purposes and the crater is a tourist attraction. The uniqueness of these salt pans in an extinct volcano crater has put Pedra de Lume on the list of nominees for the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In addition to viewing the fascinating and colorful salt pans, there are a number of activities that you can undertake.
Float in the water
It is a unique experience to float on water. You can do this in one of the salt pans. Because of the high concentration of salt in the water, you can float easily. The salt pan has a maximum depth of about half a meter. It is wonderful to float in the salt water with a special view of the volcano crater. So bring swimsuits and water shoes. Showers are available and can be used upon payment.
Salt and mud cure
The minerals and salt water have a beneficial effect. The treatment is very relaxing and cleanses the skin intensively. It also activates the blood circulation and gives a fresh appearance. Treatments and massages are possible in a small relax spa.
You can take a nice walk around the crater of about 4.5 kilometers. Enjoy the moonlike landscape. Put on good walking shoes and do not forget to take your camera with you. You can also walk to the fishing village Pedra de Lume (1 km).
Practical / tips
- The price of access to the crater is around 5 euros. Swimming in a salt pan is included.
- There is a small cafe / restaurant at the crater, but a better place to have a drink or a drink is at the coast.
- The color palette of the salt pans is best appreciated when the weather is clear and sunny.
- Try to avoid Pedra de Lume halfway through the day. It is then the hottest and it can be busy. At other times you can almost be alone and enjoy the view.
Pedra de Lume on list of Seven Wonders Cape Verde
The natural wealth of the Cape Verde islands is very diverse and unique. Salinas de Pedra de Lume is one of the seven natural wonders of the Cape Verde islands. The natural heritage of the archipelago. The seven natural wonders are spread over the different islands of Cape Verde.
How do I get to Salinas de Pedra de Lume?
The salt lake is located in the northeast of Sal at about 5 kilometers from Espargos, the capital of the island. And from Santa Maria it is about 25 kilometers. The roads to Pedra de Lume are good. There are many tours to the crater. You can also go to Pedra de Lume with your own transport, for example with a rental car, scooter or taxi. A return journey by taxi from Santa Maria is around 30 – 40 euros. The taxi will then wait for you for 2 hours (arrange this well in advance).