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A 10-day solo trekking through Santo Antão

How a woman from Switzerland fell in love with Cape Verde

· Travel

"Cape Verde is untouched, authentic and joyful"

Travelling to Santo Antão

Angelika Niedecker is from Switzerland. She used to live in Basel and worked as a nurse. She decided to take a break from her hectic life, and went to spent 6 months in Cape Verde, where she also went on a fantastic hiking and trekking trip of 10 days through the island of Santo Antão.

“My adventure in Cape Verde started on the island of Boa Vista. The island still has the unique qualities that I consider to be typically Cape Verdean. From the start I felt a special connection with the country.

It’s because of the people, the nature, the food…

Cape Verde is untouched, authentic and joyful. The people work hard, and even when life gets hard they are joyous. Experiencing this was nourishing for my soul. It touched me deeply."

"From Boa Vista I wanted to travel by boat to São Vicente, but this was a little bit more complicated then expected. On my 2nd day there was a ship leaving to Mindelo, but I wanted to stay a bit longer on Boa Vista to get to know the island. Unfortunately from that moment on nobody really knew when a ship would go to São Vicente. There were only ships leaving for Sal, so eventually I took a plane."

Travelling 'back in time' on the island of Santo Antão

Hiking and Trekking Adventure

"From the city of Mindelo I took the ferry to Santo Antão. I had rented an apartment in Ponta do Sol, where I would be staying for about 4 months. I decided to hike a big part of the island, from one coast to the other. And so one day I packed a small backpack and me and my dog Shy went on an adventure to explore Santo Antão..."

"On the 2nd day of my trip I dropped and broke my camera. This fitted very well in the adventure because I now had to absorb the extraordinary beauty without taking pictures. It took things to a different level, experiencing everything around me without ever disturbing the connection.

The people you meet don’t just want to be one of your pictures, they want contact. As much as I want to know about them, they want to know about me. Without my camera there was so much more interaction with the wonderful people I met."

"What Cape Verdeans sing about… everything…. It’s not something from decades ago. The Morabeza, it’s still alive,

it’s still out there."

"One day I met a group of 10 hikers with a guide. I thought they were travelling light like I was. But about an hour later I passed a group of locals with donkeys that where carrying big pieces of luggage. I was shocked. In my opinion there was no need to carry around all that luggage and to have it organized this way. Without a concept of thoughtful tourism a place can lose its identity. Tourism can change so much, both positive and negative. This is something touroperators have to keep in mind."

  • For more on 'sustainable' tourism Angelika suggests visiting
The magical village of Fontainhas, Cape Verde

The Magic of Santo Antão Island

"It truly was an enriching experience. It felt so good to know these places still exist. Places will change, people will change. I think it’s so important some things remain the way they are as much as possible.

I never felt at risk travelling by myself as a woman, I felt safer than in some European countries.

Some days I wouldn’t see anyone for a full day, but I never felt unsafe."

"Sometimes I didn’t know if I would be able to find a place to sleep. Taking a tent with me on the trip would have been to heavy. I decided I would be ok if I had to spend a night outside. It wasn’t cold and there are no dangerous animals. I remember this one tiny village where a lady rented out a room to me. She said it was 2 months ago since they had seen a tourist pass through."

"Santo Antão is a recipe for consciousness.​"

"People work so hard, with what nature provides. Nature offers them food. Many don't go to a supermarket. This creates a different dynamic in life. Take for example, the delicious goat cheese! Every piece should be eaten with appreciation. I am not saying that people who live a ‘simple life’ have a better life. But I saw things in the way of life in Cape Verde that we’ve lost and we are trying to get back again.

Travelling to Santo Antão might feel like travelling back in time, but in my opinion they are ahead of time.”​

"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."

"I came back from Cape Verde a year ago. Coming back I knew the experience had changed me. I wanted to get away from the big city and move to the country side. Today I enjoy a beautiful lake view from my apartment."

Angelika's Route

Ponta do Sol – Fontainhas – Cruzinha – Ribeira Alta – Figueiras – Ribeira da Cruz – Châ de Norte – Châ de Manuelinho – Monte Trigo – Tarrafal de Monte Trigo

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