The island of Santo Antão is an increasingly popular place for many naturelovers and hikers. Often called Cape Verde's most spectacular island, it offers its visitors hours and hours of beautiful hiking trails with breathtaking views.
Most travelers choose to visit the islands Eastern part, with incredible places such as the valley of Paúl, Fontainhas and Ribeira de Torre. Travel to the other side of the island, a part which has a lot less habitants, and you will find a few very special villages.
Tarrafal de Monte Trigo is one of those amazing villages. It's located in Cape Verde's most western part, and the drive from harbour city Porto Novo takes about an hour and a half. The drive to 'Tarrafal' alone shows you how secluded this part of the island of Santo Antão is.
Truly Unique Places
Although the island of Santo Antão is Cape Verde's second largest island, it only has about 40.000 habitants. This is half of the population of São Vicente, which is one of the country's smallest islands. Tarrafal de Monte Trigo has less than 1000 habitants, and after passing Lajedos, a village located close to Porto Novo, there is close to nothing until reaching the village.
The City Hall of Porto Novo is currently working on the road to 'Tarrafal', but for now the last part of the drive is a dirt road. The fact that this dirt road is a rocky one, makes the drive longer then it will be after completion of the entire route (probably by the end of 2019).
The drive to 'Tarrafal' is exiting. It offers different landscapes and beautiful views. Shortly after leaving Porto Novo the drive takes you high up the green mountain side of the Western part of Santo Antão. From here, the drive continues in the direction of the Topo da Coroa. This volcano is the islands highest point, with 1900 meters.
Close to Topo da Coroa, at an altitude of well over 1000 meters, there is a 'crossroad' where you can either descend to Norte, or continue towards 'Tarrafal'. Not long after this part you'll find the impressive Ribeira de Tarrafal valley. Feel free to ask your driver to stop for a moment. The road now starts to wind down towards 'Tarrafal' with some amazing views of the coastline.
The drive basically ends on the deserted beach of 'Tarrafal', a black sandy beach of about 1 km long. The beautiful bay is surrounded by big mountain sides, and the view of the many colorful fisherman boats in the water makes it a very peaceful setting.
Tourists are starting to explore this part of Santo Antão, but not much has changed in Tarrafal de Monte Trigo. The village has a few accommodations, and a diving school. Although there is some modern day development here, the village still has it's own distinct character. The fishing industry is remains the driving force for the residents.
The village of Monte Trigo, with about 600 habitants even smaller than 'big brother' Tarrafal, can be reached by using the small dirt road along the coast. The hike takes about 4 hours, and it's the only road connecting the two villages (!). Another option is to ask a fisherman to take you from one village to the other.
The hike to Monte Trigo is a difficult one. This hike, with its spectacular high cliffs and sometimes scary small pathways is not recommended to inexperienced hikers. From both Monte Trigo and Tarrafal the start of the route is easy and relaxed, with a few climbs here and there. But the middle part of about 1,5 hours is much more difficult and challenging. (as of october 2018 the hiking path has not been maintained for a while, so make sure you are prepared for difficult conditions)
Monte Trigo is a mystikal little village, that can only be reached by two hiking trails, and by boat. The other hiking trail is a steep path above the village, which connects Monte Trigo with Norte. This hike can take up to 9 hours, depending on the exact route.
On the boat
The fishermen of Monte Trigo head out to 'Tarrafal' on a regular basis. This might be for some cargo, or for dropping off people. Just ask the local fishermen if there is someone who could take you, and negotiate the price. You should be able to get to Tarrafal de Monte Trigo for CVE 4.000 (more if you're traveling in a group).
The experience of the one hour boat trip is special. It gives you a taste of what life looks like for the fishermen here. If you're lucky, the fisherman might trow out a line to catch a few fish along the way. Enjoy the views of the villages from the water, the contrasting colors of the sea and mountains, and maybe even see some playing dolphins.
Transfer Porto Novo – Tarrafal de Monte Trigo: CVE 700 (one way)
Your driver: Emedio, phone number: (+238) 9989808, try contacting him in advance.
Where to Stay:
Tarrafal de Monte Trigo:
Vista Tarrafal, Marina de Tarrafal
Beira Mar Residencial
Where to eat:
Both the residencials in Tarrafal de Monte Trigo and Monte Trigo offer their guests breakfast, lunch and diner. Café Casa Verde in Tarrafal de Monte Trigo is also a great place for breakfast (only CVE 500) and lunch or diner.
Boat: CVE 4.000 (one way)
Guests of Beira Mar Residencial in Monte Trigo pay CVE 3.000
* There are no ATM's in Tarrafal de Monte Trigo and Monte Trigo!
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