Type of stay :
Trek in group
Localities visited :
São Filipe, Cha das Caldeiras, Cidade Velha, Paúl, Mindelo
Length : 14 days
(included 8 of walking)
Maximum difficulty : 4*
Two weeks bent on the discovery of what appears to be little jewels lost in the middle of the Atlantic. From ascending the dark slopes of the impressive volcano of Fogo and descending it with a lot of joy and energy; from Santiago, rich in History, African in its lifestyle and traditions; from São Vicente, proud of its half-Creole, half-European; all the way to Santo Antão, tropical paradise with its green setting, high reliefs and authentic lifestyle.
Regions covered : click
For all hiking enthusiasts
Day 1 - Monday
Arrival at the airport. We gather up, introduce ourselves and get ready to spend two wonderful weeks together.
Day 2 - Tuesday
We head to the Fire island. Everything in Fogo is out of the ordinary: not only the size of the volcano, but its colours, the fragrances, the atmosphere, the people; A little hike gets us acquainted with all of these. In the afternoon, why not rest a while or stroll in the small city.
Day 3 - Wednesday (Hike: 4, 5 hours - level 2-3)
We give an early start to this hike into the crater: the landscapes are worth it. Calm yet powerful, silent, sunny... The volcano is impressive. We're getting closer and closer while exploring the caldeira (literally: the cauldron). Our accommodation for the night is in front of the big cone - without water and electricity, but don't worry, it's liveable. There's a legend saying one has wild dreams when one sleeps there... Well, it's probably caused by one (or two!) glasses of local red wine that we're able to taste.
Day 4 - Thursday (Hike: 4, 5 hours - level 4*)
The key to success lies in the breakfast: not too light, not too heavy. We eat by candlelight, not only because it's romantic, but also because we need to leave early as to avoid the excessive heat of the day. Once we reach the summit (2829 metres/9281 feet), and if the fickle weather allows it, we can see up to the north of the archipelago... We probably won't stay long: the prospect of running, sliding or jumping down the pozzolan gravel is too strong, we have to start now! It's so much fun, we feel like we're back in our tender years.
Day 5 - Friday
Let's trade the fire of the volcano for a more African atmosphere on the island of Santiago. Our first stop in Cidade Velha: once evil twin of the Gorée island during the slave trade, the city is considered as the cradle of the Creole identity, with the first Cathedral ever built in Africa and renovated fortress. A beautiful yet bitter place, as the fate of many was sealed on the small town's main square, where one can still see a pillory. We spend the night, surrounded by green fields, in the mountains of Santiago.
D6 - Saturday (Hike: 4, 5 hours - level 3)
A hike through a beautiful nature reserve along with its steep descent make sure we spend a wonderful day in the inland region of Santiago. The magic follows us during the whole hike through the island and back to our accommodation in the mountain lodge.
Day 7 - Sunday
Today, change of scenery: we leave the Leeward Islands and trade them for the Windward Islands: the Barlavento region, to the north of the archipelago. Mindelo is our first stop: the colours, the music, the fragrances of this magical city are magical! More specifically, we wander through lively markets, discover hidden spots and admire the beautiful view upon the harbour. The Cape Verdean handicraft won't hold no secret for us after visiting to a pottery school and a luthier workshop.
Day 8 - Monday (Hike: 5 hours - level 3)
Today, we get acquainted with Santo Antão. A short ride on the beautiful Road of the Rope takes us to a vast red stained plateau. We don't just notice the hospitality of the locals but also the beautiful and varied views from the top - and the great taste of the local goat cheese. It's time for us to trade the aridity of the plateaus for a green valley, and meet our host family for the night.
Day 9 - Tuesday (Hike: 4 hours - level 2-3)
After the breakfast, no time to rest, two valleys await! Learning some words of Cape Verdean creole allows us to exchange more than smiles with the local farmers we encounter. Remember: in Santo Antão, it's unthinkable to pass by somebody without greeting or saying a few kind words. We meet our family for tonight, and enjoy a simple yet delicious homemade dinner.
Day 10 - Wednesday (Hike: 6 hours - level 2-3)
We give an early start to one of the most spectacular hikes of Cape Verde: the one along the coast. Trails built by shepherds, right above the ocean, lead us through exceptional landscapes - it goes up and down, each curve revealing new surprises. No wonder why this hike is one of our favourites. Encountering local people, courageously enduring the harsh living conditions, enables us to improve our Creole. We spend the night in a green haven.
Day 11 - Thursday (Hike: 3 hours - level 2-3)
Today, we have a much closer encounter with the greenest and most tropical valley amongst the whole archipelago, the beautiful valley of Paúl: the one that brightens the eyes of those lucky enough to wander through it.
Day 12 - Friday
The western part of the island remains the most authentic, as it is less visited: here, living conditions are hard and rain is scarce. But the nature is surprisingly beautiful. We take the road towards Porto Novo, making a small stop on the Lagoa plateau, where sylvicultural activities and goat cheese are the main source of income - and discover particular rock formations in the valley of Ribeira das Patas. After a delicious lunch, provided by an interesting project of sustainable agriculture and tourism, we head back to Mindelo.
Day 13 - Saturday (Hike: 1, 5 hours - level 2)
A Cape Verdean style kind of day: sea, mountain, beach, a good meal, the sun: they gathered today to accompany us for our last day in the Northern islands. Flight back to Praia where we spend the night.
Day 14 - Sunday
All great things come to an end: it's time to board our plane back to Europe. Watch out for the famous sodade - this feeling of melancholy, attachment and joy towards this little country may be stronger than we thought.
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