"Santo Antão was truly an enriching experience. It felt so good to know these places still exist"
- Angelika from Swizterland
If you've booked a trip to the island of Santo Antão or are thinking about heading out to this gem in the middle of the Atlantic, chances are it is because you enjoy hiking.
Sometimes getting your travel research on point can be a bit of a challenge. Although not everything needs to be planned out, having the right information can be pretty important when facing certain decisions.
To help with your travel planning we've lined out 4 of our best tips on hiking and trekking.
Pack light, but pack right
Going hiking or trekking on the island of Santo Antão you probably won't need a lot of stuff. It will actually make things difficult when trying to move around. Depending on what type of trip you decide to take, you might end up hiking entire days with a full backpack around your shoulders. Think of this when you start packing your bags. We recommend bringing the following:
Good hiking shoes
Clothes to protect you from the sun
A nice thermos can to keep your water cool
Tourism on the island of Santo Antão is far from reaching 'mass tourism status'. The island has countless villages where visitors experience a 'back in time' feeling. The best thing to do is go as much into the unknown as you can. Many of these villages see few tourists passing, which makes the adventure even more special.
The northern part of the island is by far the part that receives the most visitors, but the southern part of the island also has amazing places to discover. On this part of Santo Antão, the two villages of Monte Trigo and Tarrafal de Monte Trigo are only connected by a hiking trail and a boat.
Take your time
Santo Antão is Cape Verde's second biggest island. It is a spectacular place where there is so much to see. It is impossible to travel to the island for a few quick highlights. The island is one of those places where life is authentic as can be. This means it needs to be experienced, and not just seen.
"The highlights of this trip? That would be impossible to describe. A place like this isn’t about a few highlights. There are hundreds of them. It takes a different mindset to really be part of Santo Antão, and to be able to grab these special moments. It needs impartiality and awareness.
The incredible geological formation of the island, the animals, the mountain and sea views... And there is so much more."
- Angelika from Switzerland
Some of the hikes can be done in a few hours, but to really take in all that you come across along the way it might take you the entire day. For example, take the hike that leads from Ponta do Sol to the village of Cruzinha, an extraordinary costal road hike. One of the stops along the way is the magical village of Fontainhas, where you will definitely want to take the time to connect with it's beauty.
Choose the right season
Cape Verde has a rain season that normally starts in August. Not all the islands see the same amount of rain during rain season. Many times when it rains on the island of Santo Antão, the sun shines on the other side of the 'canal' on the island of São Vicente.
When deciding on the time to travel to Santo Antão keep in mind that the island's beauty comes out even better when mother nature blesses the land with her rain. In order to see waterfalls coming down unbelievable mountain peaks and fields greener then you've ever whitnessed before, make sure to travel to 'Sintanton' between September and November.
Also, hiking for hours in the burning sun might be a bit much for most people. This is why peak season on the island (and in Cape Verde in general), is between October and March. Winter in Cape Verde generally means tempratures between 22-26 degrees celcius, and around the mountains of Santo Antão tempratures are always a few degress lower.
A few of the best hiking routes of Santo Antão:
From Tarrafal de Monte Trigo to Monte Trigo
These two villages are amongst Santo Antão's most secluded places. Tarrafal de Monte Trigo can be reached from Porto Novo, but a part of this route is a bumpy dirt road.
Monte Trigo can't even be reached by car! There are only two hiking paths leading to this mystikal place, and it can also be reached by boat.
The hiking trail connecting the two villages is spectacular, exiting but also dangerous. It is not recommended to inexperienced hikers. The start of the route, from both villages, is well maintained. But this changes in the middle part, with very difficult trails.
From Corda to Ribeira Grande
This route is done by simply following the (main) road from the village of Corda, all the way down to the city of Ribeira Grande (Puvaçon). Corda can be reached by taking a 'Hiace' from Porto Novo. The route to Corda is done by driving the old mountain road, which is much more interesting than the new coastal road.
The old mountain road leads to a part high above Porto Novo, of about 1200 meters, from where the route continues to the village of Corda. The view of both Santo Antão and São Vicente are amazing. The villages along this route, such as Lombo de Figueira and Agua das Caldeiras, are very beautiful.
While hiking from Corda to Ribeira Grande you can enjoy some of the best views that the island of Santo Antão has to offer. A few view points offer a breathtaking view from both the left and right side of the road. One of these popular view points is a pluch called 'Delgadim'. Some days it can seem as if you're walking on the clouds.
* Time: 3 – 3,5 hours
Hiace price for Porto Novo – Corda: CVE 300
From Cabo de Ribeira to Cova
The valley of Paúl definitely is one of Santo Antão's most beautiful parts. It streches out for a few kilometers, while the views only seem to get better. Near the 'end' of the valley, there is a part called the Cabo de Ribeira. Located a bit after reaching the famous Passagem, this is where the climb to Cova starts.
When you reach 'Sandro's', continue while looking for murals of both Bob Marley and Cesaria. The climb to Cova starts on the stairs to your right, after passing the murals. The climb is a though one, but offers impressive views of the valley and all the way to the coast. The path is well maintained in most places.
After the climb, take time to enjoy the incredible view from the top before you head down into the Cova crater. Follow the path on your right, which will lead into the crater, and later up the road. From here, you can either take a Hiace/Aluger to Porto Novo, or continue to Corda and even further.
* Time: 3 – 4 hours (depending on the exact route)
Hiace price Ponta do Sol – Cabo de Ribeira: CVE 200
Accommodation tip: The brand new Casa Maracuja (rooms and restaurant in Cabo de Ribeira)
From Ponta do Sol to Cruzinha
For many hikers, this is a favorite route. One, because the entire route is done by following a coastal path that the locals have been using for many many years. Two, because both Fontainhas and Corvo are among the most beautiful villages of the island.
The route can be done in both directions. In case you're staying in Ponta do Sol, it is adviced to take a Hiace to Cruzinha first. It helps if you don't need to figure out how to get back after a long hike.
Ribeira de Torre – Xôxô – Agua das Caldeiras
The Ribeira de Torre valley starts at the coast in the city of Ribeira Grande, usually called 'Puvaçon' by the locals. The first part of this hike, all the way to the village of Xôxô, can be done by simply following the asfalted road. Of course you can also choose to take a 'Hiace' for this 6,5 km long route.
Xôxô is famous for the beautiful and typical mountain peak and amazing surrounding. From the village the hike continues on a road that leads up the mountain. This part of Santo Antão is also known for a plane crash back in 1999, with 17 victims.
The hike up the mountain is a though climb. Agua das Caldeiras is located on a height of about 1300 meters. From this village you can either continue your hike all the way to Ribeira Grande (another 3 hours), or take a Hiace to Porto Novo.
*Time: 4 - 5 hours
Hiace Price: CVE 50 – CVE 100
Enjoy a break at Melicia, close to Xôxô
Hi, I'm Freddy, the creator of the MindeloCaboVerde.com blog! Thank you for reading.
Is there anyting I can help you with? Please feel free to message me.