Cape Verde: Santo Antão
I returned to international travel after a three-year hiatus with a trip to the Cape Verde islands.
My first stop was Santiago, seat of the country’s capital Praia. I then hopped to volcanic Fogo before moving north to São Vicente and the colourful city of Mindelo.
Lastly was a ferry crossing to Santo Antão, an island of rugged mountains and Cape Verde’s greenest valleys. Did I save the best until last? READ MORE BELOW
Tap/click first image to view gallery
Without an airport, Santo Antão feels less connected to Cape Verde’s other islands.
It’s more sparsely populated and a land where towering peaks and the Atlantic Ocean crashing against its craggy coastline prevail.
Colourful little villages cling to the mountainsides, including unmissable Fontainhas which has even been feted by National Geographic magazine.
But there’s a flipside to Santo Antão’s dramatic cragginess. The Paul Valley is the greenest place in Cape Verde, with its own abundant water source supporting crops and lush vegetation. It’s a memorable place to hike, dotted with rustic homesteads.
Life can be hard here, but to the outsider it appears peaceful, simple and idyllic.
It would be fair to say that like many other visitors to Santo Antão, I was bowled over by its beauty and relative remoteness, unique to the Cape Verde islands I spent time in. It has to be on your itinerary – but please don’t go all at the same time!
I stayed at Pedracin Village with rooms built in the style of Santo Antão cottages (mine is pictured above!) Surrounded by mountains on all sides, this was a quiet place to marvel at the landscape and experience the island’s very relaxed vibe.
A good tour guide can make your visit. This is Samuel Rocha, from Santo Antão and a proud Cape Verdean. He showed me the unique character of his island and did it with enthusiasm and good humour. Samuel was my hike buddy on a trail around the beautiful Paul Valley, which was quite strenuous but a truly memorable experience.
I booked my Cape Verde trip with island specialists Archipelago Choice, a small company based in Cumbria, UK. It was a bespoke tour for one based on their Highlights of Cape Verde holiday. Vista Verde Tours took care of my transport and excursions while I was on the islands. I flew from Manchester to Cape Verde via Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal.
Wow, Santo Antão looks amazing. Your shots of village in the vale and Cova crater are really selling this island to us!
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Glad to hear it! Santo Antão has its own special something and (between you and me) was my outright winner!
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Hi Mike, love Cabo Verde! This Autumn visit São Vicente and Santo Antão.
How would you split two weeks time between them?
Do you have any tip for a car rental?
Hi Jan, good to hear from a fellow Cabo Verde fan. Exciting to hear you’re going. Santo Antão has so much countryside to explore that you could easily spend more time there. But Mindelo is in my view the best city in the country. I actually returned there for another day after Santo Antão. I don’t actually drive and all my arrangements were handled by Vista Verde tours. It looks like they options for self drive. They were excellent so try this: https://www.vista-verde.com/unsere-reisen/individuelle-reisen/fuer-selbstfahrer/