Hiking in Santo Antao island (6 – 8 November)

Our couschurfing buddies recommended that if we want to go hiking then Santo Antoa, the neighbor island of Sao Vincent, is the best place where to do this. The island is often called hikers paradise. So we went there to discover whether it is worth its name and we discovered that it certainly was.

On the morning of the 6th November we took the ferry to Porto Novo. It’s a harbor of Santo Antao. The ferry departed at 8 o’clock and we needed to be there 20 minutes before to buy tickets. So we woke up quite early.


On arrival to Porto Novo we decided we will first find some place to eat since we did not have proper breakfast. It’s wise to go hiking with full tank. On the other hand, it was a mistake to eat at Porto Novo because all the aluguers were waiting people from the ferry exactly when the ferry arrived. After we finished our breakfast, all of the alugers had already left. But there is also the more expensive version of aluguer which is basically a collective taxi on demand. During our ride to the starting point of our hike we shared the Estonian candies with locals who seemed to be very flattered of this gesture


We started our hike at 11 o’clock at the edge of an old volcano crater. The inner of the crater is being used for agriculture nowadays. The area is full of different fruit trees and fields. A huge share of the vegetables and fruit grown in Cape Verde are exactly from this place.


The hiking trails were quite easy to walk and enjoyable. The weather was mostly cloudy and foggy as usually in mountains. After 30 minutes of accent we reached to the point where there was a zig-zag path down made out of stones. This track is built by the natives and is still being used by the people living there in the mountains today. Since it was quite foggy and humid the stones were slippery. On the way down we met cows, pigs, donkeys and goats. They were kept by the locals living there. The nature was very green and rich so we understood perfectly now how Cape Verde has got its name (Green Cape). It did not look at all like the stony cliffs we first saw when we arrived with the boat. But it is needless to say that Santo Antao is also the greenest island of Cape Verde, because it has fairly high mountains which gather clouds and humidity.


On the way down, before reaching the small village called Lombinho in the end of the valley, there was a booth set up by a locals where we could buy some of the local products. They were selling fruits like bananas and mangos and also local liquor. Most famous one is Grogue – National drink of Cape Verde. It is rum distilled from sugar cane with an alcohol rate of 40%. The smell of the drink reminds of warm banana. We decided that bananas and mangos are good enough for now.


After the village there was two options to continue. First was to follow the main road to the seaside where we were planning to spend the first night. There is a village called Vila das Pombas (Paul). Another option is to take a right turn and follow the road up to the mountains and then down through the small mountain villages. Since we had time and we were also not that tired, we thought the road through the mountain would be more interesting.

This part of the mountains was even greener and richer and locals were growing all sorts of agricultural goods and fruits – sugarcane, sweet potatoes, eucalypt, tobacco, papayas, mangos, bananas and some other stuff which we did not recognize The road went uphill, passing few houses where locals greeted us, til it reached the mobile antenna and a small village of few houses on top of the mountain. This village was particularly interesting because the houses were built right on top of the mountain ridge. For our surprise there was several home-cafeterias en-route to serve the tired hikers. We were a little amazed by it, because actually did not see many other tourists…

From this point it was only downhills, but this did not mean it would have been easier to walk. The Stones were slipperid and we needed to be really careful. The trail passed several small villages like Quintal and Junta til it reached to Boca di Figueiral. We really loved to walk through these small villegeas to see how the local people actually did live. We saw many men cutting the sugar cane. Children and women were carrying water from the springs. Small children were playing outside and school children had perfect white shirts. Older people were just sitting in front of their houses and looking at others. Many of the locals passed us really easily, even with only flip-flops on. Everyone was really friendly and greeted us with a smile.

From the small villages, it was few kilometers til Vila das Pombas where we still needed to find a place for the night. Our couchsurfing buddies recommended one cheap place where they had stay themselves but unfortunately, we passed it by accident. Since we didn’t quite want to walk back, we tried if we can find something cheap close by. We didn’t have to look very far because right behind the corner there was a hostel where the room was only 15 euros. The toilet and shower was shared and as in most of the places, the shower was with cold water only. There was also a restaurant on the rooftop which was perfect because we could go there with our socks on – we were not in the mood wearing the hiking shoes the whole evening and we did not take our flipflops with us. It might seem strange to go to a restaurant with socks but no one seemed to be bothered. It might be because many local people walked barefoot. The restaurant itself was also a masterpiece of reused stuff. For example, the lamp domes in the restaurant were made out of a large mayonnaise bucket. So people here are using whatever they have and are creative.

When hiking in Santo Antao one must be aware that the hiking trails are not marked very well. We did saw some marks painted on the stones but they were shabby and the frequency of those was not sufficient. The best helper for hikers is an app called maps.me. It shows all those small mountain roads and trails marked really precisely so it is not necessary to hire a guide. Many of the tourists still do so to feel safe not to get lost, but we think it is still possible to manage without. At least we did…

For the next day we had a accommodation booked in the village called Cruzinha. The small town is quite famous because there is a really popular hiking trail from Cruzinha to Punta del Sol along the coast line. We chose this place because it was recommended again by our couchsurfing buddies and it looked just so nice on the pictures. It was a glamping place. A word glamping comes from glamourous and camping. It is basically a camping with conveniences like shower and a bed and proper sheets and blanket. We decided we will go there with the aluguer in order to have maximum amount of time we can spend there. The place just looked so amazing and since it was our anniversary day as well, we wanted to treat ourselves a little bit. We could have also hiked to Cruzinha, but it would have taken the whole day and we would have only arrived in the evening when it is dark.

The next morning we wanted to eat breakfast before we head to the next village with the aluguer but since we made this mistake already yesterday and one aluguer was waiting for people right next to our hostel then we decided to take this because you never know when the next one is coming. There were few other European tourists with us in the minivan who headed to the same village.

When we arrived to the Cruzinha we wanted to have a breakfast there before we go and do the check in. It turned out that the glamping place is few kilometers walking from the village. There was only one restaurant in the village and when we asked for the coffee, they gave us a look like they don’t know what coffee is. So we didn’t not get any coffee there and decided to walk to a hotel which was by the seaside about 1 kilometers away. Luckily, we got some coffee and cookies there. One English guy who was in the aluguer with us was also there and was going to spend the night there so we spent some time talking with him. He was also a traveler and has traveled a lot in Africa and Asia before so it was really interesting to listen his experience.

Around noon time we started to walk toward our glamping place and it was even more beautiful there than we had imagined and seen in the pictures. We had a rest and enjoyed the sun. Birds there were so venturous and came really close to us to snatch some of our potato chips speck. They even came into our tent


In the evening we had a wonderful dinner and we also got to taste some of the local liqueurs including the grogue. Later in the evening, we watched the stars. The glamping place was definitely one of the coolest places we had ever been to. It was perfect for our 6,5 year anniversary.

Next morning, we had to wake up early because the aluguer back to the Porto Novo was at 0645. We had our breakfast served at 0615 and aluguer came just on the right time. We made it back to the port 10-15 minutes before the ferry departed We were both exhausted, but really happy to have made the trip to Santo Antao. It was a real paradise and we saw really authentic Cape Verdian everyday life.


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