Thursday, October 21

Hiking in Santo Antão in Cape Verde | A fairy tale landscape.

Rice terraces, fresh figs, papayas, devastating ravines and sugar cane swaying like spurs in the wind. The landscape of the island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde differs so much from the much more popular SAL charter island that it is difficult to understand that it is in the same country. Instead, huge hotel complexes and sun loungers are replaced by spiky green mountains and spectacular lava beaches. An island that does not find many people, and that is precisely why the effort to reach it is worth it.

>> The trip to Cape Varde was completed at the end of November 2019 <

Santo Antão in Cape Verde - sugar cane

Getting to Santo Antão takes some time

Arriving in Santo Antão means for us a flight from Stockholm to SAL (Ving, direct flight, 2000 sek round trip), an overnight stay in the city of Esparog in SAL (400 sek / double room and breakfast), a domestic SAL flight to the island of Sao Vicente (Binter Cabo Verde, 45 min, 1800 sec round trip), and then a ferry from São Vicente to Santo Antão (1 hour, ticket purchased at the port, 160 sec round trip).

But as soon as we leave the Porto Novo marina and head into the countryside with the wind blowing our hair, every hour of travel is worth it. We are sitting on the platform of the van that will take us in the last hour to the accommodation in Páuldalen. The road winds along the Atlantic Ocean on one side and sand-colored rocky clumps on the other. Every now and then we pass through a small town with facades of colorful houses and exotic fruits piled up in small shops.

Santo Antão is still very touristy due to its inaccessibility. The mountainous landscape makes the island devoid of sandy beaches like, for example, the SAL charter island. On the other hand, it is a paradise for those who want to walk through unbeatable landscapes. Or: for those who just want to spend a little more time with themselves.

Island on the way to Santo Antão from Sao Vicente
Santo Antao i Kap Verde
Santo Antao i Kap Verde
Coastal road of Santo Antão in Cape Verde

Overlooking the Paul Valley: Casa das Ilhas – accommodation in Santo Antão

house of the islands is the name of the bright yellow accommodation we booked (3-500 sek / double room). It is nestled a little up in the pompous valley of Pául. Here you live among clouds of clouds and a forest of fluffy sugar cane. The path does not go to the accommodation, but it is a very steep hike that is applied every time you go up or down.

Every day it is possible to reserve for the homemade dinner (100 sec) together with other guests in the accommodation. If you prefer to live with your own watch of food and sleep, there is the Chez Hujo hotel, which is located next to the road. Serves a good omelette, freshly squeezed mango juice, and useful wifi. I even manage to hold a Zoom conference with Berghs course participants early one morning.

Casa das Ilhas - our accommodation in Santo Antão in Cape Verde
Casa das Ilhas - our accommodation in Santo Antão in Cape Verde
Casa das Ilhas - our accommodation in Santo Antão in Cape Verde
Casa das Ilhas - our accommodation in Santo Antão in Cape Verde
Pául på Santo Antao i Kap Verde.
The closest city is Paul.

Hiking in Santo Antão # 1: The Paul Valley

We do two full-day hikes in Santo Antão, the first in the beautiful Paul Valley. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to reproduce exactly how we walked, the director gives us a map drawn by herself that seems extremely logical when she explains it, but totally elusive once we are on the road.

Figs and bunches of papaya hang from the trees, sometimes a house of mud and straw, sometimes a pig with its young chained to a palm tree. The rice fields undulate along the slopes and below, among the emerald green massifs, the Atlantic gleams. Tufts of clouds like cotton candy travel at breakneck speed, sometimes under our feet, sometimes in a purple hue.

The views are so magnificent that it almost feels difficult to breathe. I take a deep breath to, as it were, save as much as possible in the lungs, the blood, the memory, the soul, but somewhere along the way I realize that it is not possible and that is when the indicated exhalation arrives. What to do with everything beautiful? I’d rather swallow it all and save myself forever.

Santo Antao i Kap Verde

The hike is easy because you are constantly following a trampled path or stairs. But it always goes downhill or uphill. That is why I recommend appropriate shoes, at least not sandals. As I was stingy in booking the plane ticket with Ving and did not pay an extra 300 sek for checked luggage, I have traveled to Cape Verde for a week with only 6 kg of carry-on luggage (promise a separate post about packing). Instead of a pair of walking shoes, I have prioritized my MacBook at 1.7kg and traveled in sneakers. In fact, it works unexpectedly well even for walks. But like I said: you need at least one pair of real shoes.

The weather in Santo Antão is perfect for hiking. In Páuldalen it is around 22 degrees because there are almost always clouds there, while the next day it is around 26-28 degrees and the bright sun when we walk along the coast. The temperature of the water is approximately the same as that of the air, 23-25 ​​degrees. And the best. Apparently, temperatures in Cape Verde should be roughly the same year-round.

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