Unexpected Africa: São Tomé and Príncipe

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Unexpected Africa: São Tomé and Príncipe
Príncipe Island

Who would have thought that off the African coast, not very far from Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria, there is an archipelago of tropical islands of immense naturalistic beauty? We present you São Tomé and Príncipe, the islands of cocoa.



Get ready for the trip and let's set sail!

 

The São Tomé and Príncipe archipelago consists of two major islands and another twenty or so smaller islands. The volcanic origin of the archipelago makes these islands particularly mountainous and rich in luxuriant vegetation, thanks to the tropical climate they enjoy: in the past they held the world record for the intense cultivation of cocoa and coffee plantations. The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are still little known and are not frequented by mass tourism: it is advisable to contact a local guide to explore their beauties, sometimes hidden and difficult to reach.

Let's start with the island of São Tomé, where you will find small beaches gathered among the many bays that overlook splendid turquoise waters, which allow you to glimpse the white and sandy bottoms. The most beautiful and unspoiled beaches are those of Jalè and Piscina located in the south. The island will also reserve other natural wonders for you, such as the Pico de São Tomé (2.000 meters above sea level) which can be reached with a 2-day long climb or with a one-day trek to enjoy the surrounding lush vegetation.



 

During your stroll around the island of São Tomé you will discover numerous waterfalls, such as that of Sao Nicolau, or cross the savannah to reach the crystal clear waters of Lagoa Azul, where you can practice snorkeling and enjoy a day of Relax. You will reach the “Boca do inferno” cliff - shrouded in mystery and legends - a freak of nature where the waters, digging the rock up to the hinterland, have created fun water games. You will tread the earth of the paths of the primary forest that extraordinarily survives the presence of man. But who knows for how long?

Príncipe it is the smallest island and is located north of São Tomé to which it closely resembles, although from a naturalistic point of view Príncipe has remained wilder than its sister island. Here tranquility reigns supreme and birds, turtles and whales find their ideal habitat on the island. Even on the island of Príncipe, the paradisiacal beaches await their moment of fame, for now they are reserved for its inhabitants and the few tourists who manage to reach them. There is a beautiful resort on the island (called Bom Bom) to stay at and it is a precious pearl.

 

Príncipe, beach

Colonial cities with a Portuguese past will welcome you at every stop, you will discover fishing villages, but do not expect the modernity of our countries, but a journey back in time, when the simplicity of things was still the essence of everyday life.


When to walk to São Tomé and Príncipe?

The climate of the islands is tropical, the maximum temperatures are high all year round and go from 30 ° C in March to 27 ° C in July, while the minimums oscillate between 20 and 23 ° C. The rains fall steadily in this small corner of theAfrica immersed in the ocean and contribute to the growth of a very rich tropical vegetation, especially on the central hills. It rains with greater intensity between March and May, as well as October and November, while during the months of December, January and February the phenomena are sporadic and occur with sudden but short-lasting showers. The dry season, on the other hand, occurs between June and September with clear skies and a more ventilated climate.



The surrounding sea waters have a temperature ranging between 26 ° C in July and 30 ° C in February, ideal for swimming in the sea in every season of the year. The São Tomé and Príncipe islands can therefore be visited both in summer and in winter, preferably in the months of December, January and February, for a break from our winter greyness and to savor the warmth of the warm tropical sun.


Flights to the islands depart from Portugal with the national airline TAP Air Portugal, there are not many other alternatives. Before reaching the country you will have to obtain a visa through the consulate referred to in the link at the bottom of the page and carry out the mandatory vaccinations against yellow fever and malaria, upon your arrival in order to enter the country you will have to show the vaccination booklet.

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