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Santa Antao, Cape Verde Mountains

Mountain trekking

This is the second largest island with spectacular landscapes, especially after autumnal rains when the mountains become verdant. Dominated by a high mountain range running diagonally in line with the prevailing winds from northeast to southwest, it has a recently dormant volcano Topo da Coroa, 1979 metres. This gives a warm, dry climate in the south, cooler and more humid in the mountains and on the North Coast. The needle –shaped mountains sprout eucalyptus, cypress and pine trees, while the south has a few acacias, inhabited by white ibis. The otherwise inaccessible mountains are laced by footpaths that make hiking the main tourist activity. Farming persists despite the obstacles, with sugar cane, sweet potatoes, yams, manioc, bananas, coconuts, mango, papaya and almonds. Grogue, distilled from sugar cane was originally introduced to supply the Royal Navy and is still made here.

Santa Antao is the most striking of all Cape Verde islands - perfect for hiking. From Porto Novo, where the ferry from Mindelo docks there is a precipitous mountain road to Ribeira Grande. This was settled in the 16th Century, and was the original capital, flanked by two beautiful valleys.or prime trekking country. Ponta do Sol is a quiet townwith a small port and some old colonial buildings.

The mountains provide fantastic hiking trails, but can also be approached by roads with wonderful panoramic views. There is a large rock at Janela, shrouded in mystery. It holds secrets that are not yet understood. A large rock jutting from the trees on the valley floor, iot has mysterious inscriptions probably posted by Chinese, from a fleet which sailed around Africa from India. The language of the carvings is Malayalam, from south India.

Sights of the mountains

S from Lancs found it a bit lonely

"Santo Antao there is nothing at Porto Novo. I hired a taxi for an island tour. You can only get to this place by boat for I think €7. I hired the taxi driver for the day and was supposed to stay at this place for a night but when I arrived no thanks I was not going to take the chance there is nothing to do when it goes dark. I would go again just for a change,"

T from Hants liked it better

"Now for some colourful local transport as we headed to Santo Antao on the ferry, where we hoped to do some walking. Only an hour from Sao Vicente, Santo Antao can easily be visited and we had four days to explore the beautiful scenery and excellent walks that we had heard about. I loved Santo Antao with its striking scenery and friendly people. For any walkers this is a must see island with dramatic mountain and coastal scenery, little villages and terraced fields of crops winding up the slopes."

E from London found the mountains impressive

"We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Cape Verde. Our transfers went without any hitches and your contact people were very pleasant and helpful. Gersail Morais, who met us on Sao Vicente is a particularly nice young man. We made the trip to Sao Antao which was wonderful, awesome EVEN - a really enjoyable day."

N from Arizona braved the mountain road

"As you drive away from the Port town and into the mountains, you climb higher and higher until you can see Mindelo from across the channel. This side of the island is browner, and even looks a little like the Rocky Mountains in Arizona. But the drive itself is amazing. You continue to climb until you reach the clouds and there is so much moisture in the air that it is practically raining. You find yourself driving through the clouds and the air is thicker than any other fog you have ever been through. But then you reach a point where the clouds are below you and in fact only on one side of the island, running like a waterfall over the mountains to the other side. You now have to get out and climb a little ways on foot, as the road has stopped, but the highest peak is still above you. The air is crisp and there are pine trees everywhere. It reminds you of camp and the smell of pine-filled mountains take you back to your childhood when the biggest problem that faced you was the fear of getting pulled out of bed to go ‘Polar-Bearing’ in the freezing-cold lake the next morning. Your current problems have been left behind, under the clouds, and most certainly await you when you return to reality. But for now, you are above them, literally, and the world is serene, quiet, and the air is so crisp you can feel yourself breathing for the first time in a long time. You can see 360° around the entire island and on both sides, the clouds are pouring over the mountains below you, moving quicker than you ever imagined, and looking almost like a quiet version of Niagara Falls. You sit at the top and simply breathe because that is the only thing to do and the only thing you can actually hear.

But it is getting late and there are other things to see. You climb back down to the little town where you have parked your car. You have rented a car because as those crazy kids are saying these days, you are traveling like a ‘baller.’ It is easier to see a place and go where you choose when you do not have to rely on public transportation to squeeze you into a seat next to bunches of bananas and people carrying chickens. So you go ‘baller’ style and discover that you can control the direction you are going; an idea that has been a little lost lately. With your destination town in front of you, you drive on, down the other side of the mountain and through the clouds again. The road is not really a road, but a one-lane cobblestone thrill ride that leaves you puzzled as to how they ever cut through all the rock and mountain to construct such a thing. The people here do not have Caterpillar machines or fancy rock-carving technology; plus we are talking about roads that were created years and years ago. So you drive carefully because the cliffs on either side are at 90° angles to the road and one wrong turn and the ribeira is the last thing you will ever see. But being above the deep-cut rocks is all that has your attention at the moment, and it reminds you a little of the spectacular nature of the Grand Canyon. Sometimes, Nature surprises you in the most astounding ways."

J from London liked the island scenery

"Our stay in Santa Antao was fantastic: what an amazing island, the scenery and landscapes are stunning. The walks through the mountains are definitely the only way to see the true beauty of the island and the best way to meet some of the most genuine, friendly and helpful local people that you could wish to meet. "

Hotels on Santa Antao Island

Hotels with magnificent views

Mountain Hotels

The North Coast and Beaches