While everyone was skiing, my friend and I decided to go to the sun for a week. We had heard good things about Cape Verde and read good reviews about hiking on Santo Antao. So we wanted to go there. Because you can not fly to Santo Antao, we flew from the Netherlands to the neighboring island of Sao Vicente. From here we could easily take the ferry to Porto Novo (port of Santo Antao), an hour of sailing for less than 14 km.
We arrived at Sao Vicente at the end of the afternoon and decided that we would spend the night in Mindelo to take the ferry to Santo Antao the next day. From our own country we had already had contact with the owners of a guesthouse on Santo Antao, so the next day on arrival at Santo Antao a taxi driver was waiting for us. Ideal, because now we did not have to “discuss” with the 30 or so other waiting (read: screaming for business) taxi drivers.
Walk Cova crater to Valle do Paúl
After the trip with the ferry to Santo Antao we took a taxi to the starting point of the walk to Valle do Paúl. The taxi driver then drove to the guest house to hand over our luggage, so that we did not have to carry a heavy backpack. A good idea! The walk starts fairly flat through the green crater of an extinct volcano. In the video below an impression of the Cova crater that lies between the clouds.
After walking through the crater for more than a quarter of an hour, it is walking down on the other side of the crater rim. And that may seems easy, but it certainly was not. Anyway, you absolutely must have no fear of heights, because the path (yes, it is still a real path and not abseiling or something) zigzags down along a seemingly vertical mountain wall. You look – unless there is just a cloud passing by – straight down! We have no fear of heights, so only found that this gave beautiful views. The mountain is beautifully green covered with moss and bushes with in the depth houses and villages. We have recorded a small part of the zigzagging path, see in the next video how we are descending between the clouds.
You feel the decent a bit in your knees, because although it is a normal walk, the path runs pretty steep. Because of this you walk in a kind of squat posture. Walking sticks would not have been a luxury. And where are tree branches if you need them to spare the knees for lack of better?! Really: maybe 10 trees grow on that slope, but all branches have long since been taken by the islanders to serve as firewood or building material.Eventually the zigzagging path stops and you enter the “inhabited” world, with here and there houses along the route. Some of the residents of those houses try to sell you all kinds of things, usually coffee (beans), but we just walked on quietly. After walking further we arrived in a village where we ate a plate of spaghetti in a cute hippie-style restaurant. That was welcome after having walked for about three hours.
From there the route is also slightly less interesting, because you follow the “big” road and you no longer look into that fascinating depth of the gorge. We could also have taken an aluguer, turned a pick-up truck made into a shared open taxi, but that would hurt our pride. After another 1.5 hour walk we finally saw the guesthouse loom up on top of a small hill in the interior of Santo Antao. What a wonderful place to enjoy the sunset, to freshen up and to have some food: traditional cachupa! After a nice chat with other guests of the guest house, we enjoyed a well-deserved night’s rest.
At Santo Antao there are many walking routes possible and because we could not choose, the next day we again asked the owners of the pension. They advised us to take an aluguer towards Ponta do Sol. The entire route to Ponta do Sol seems carved out of the mountainside and is located at about 5-10 meters above sea level. A beautiful route again! From Ponta do Sol we followed the road to see finnaly one of the most wonderful things we have ever seen: the town of Fontainhas that can be found on the Unesco World Heritage List. At a certain moment you will come to a bend and you’ll see a steep, green-vegetated mountain slope with various brightly colored houses on the other side of the bay. A beautiful sight that we did not get tired of.
From Fontainhas the road is no longer accessible to cars. Nice thing: there is a path to Cruzinha used a lot by the locals, but from Fontainhas we walked back to Ponta by Sol to have a look around in the town and have lunch. This time with grogue!
The next day we were dropped off by our “taxi” driver with luggage and all the back to Mindelo on Sao Vicente. Mindelo is a cute colonial-like city with a special history. It is, among other things, the birthplace of Cesaria Evora, the folk singer of Cape Verde. A fanatical fan has set up a museum in the “palace of the people” where you can see all sorts of clothing and other objects that have to do with her. Impressive are the photos of her with many world famous people whom she met during one of her many tours.
After our visit to the museum we walked through the city to actually come by chance the beautiful white city beach Laginha with azure water. At the trendy beach bar we relaxed the rest of the afternoon.
The following days we spent relaxing on the island and enjoyed the peace, music and food. Really a great end to the holiday.
Background travel report
This travel report is from Nathalie. In February she made a walking trip to Santo Antao and Sao Vicente. Do you also want to share your experiences and / or tips? Write a nice travel report and send this to us.