Walking Holidays in Cape Verde - Santo Antao - Remote West Trek


Holiday Highlights
  • Challenging walking through some of the most wild and isolated valleys in Cape Verde
  • Experience the cultural richness and hospitality of the islands people
  • Discover unspoilt natural landscapes like no other


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Santo Antão is the most famous walking island and second largest in the archipelago. It has a spectacular landscape where nature went crazy in her creation!  Jagged peaks, strange rock formations, craters, volcanoes and plunging ravines and valleys filled with lush vegetation are just a few of the characteristics of this amazing island. Deep valleys (Ribeiras) are farmed by the local people and terraces cling to every corner and crevice of the almost sheer valley sides where bananas, cassava and sugar cane are grown along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables. The coastline is no less dramatic with paths clinging to the cliffsides and offering one of the most amazing coastal walks imaginable - anywhere!

Day 1: Fly to Sal non-stop from the UK and connect to inter-island flight to São Vicente or fly directly to São Vicente via Lisbon. Transfer to your hotel in Mindelo, standard or higher grade. If flying via Lisbon to São Vicente, you arrive late afternoon.

Mindelo, the island’s capital, is the international port on São Vicente with a deep-sea harbour formed from a volcanic crater. It has a strong British influence, owing to its role as a coaling station in the 19th century. Its Portuguese roots are also clearly visible in the colourful colonial buildings which line its waterfront. Known for its lively carnival celebrations, Mindelo is considered the cultural capital of Cape Verde. The afternoon is at your leisure to explore Mindelo. Overnight Mindelo.

 

Day 2: Transfer to the port for an early ferry to the neighbouring island Santo Antão. From Porto Nova you will be driven to the lush Paúl Valley via the coastal road to start your first walk. Enjoy breath-taking vistas of the coast, desert and towering volcanoes as you pass through small fishing villages. You will ascend to the head of the valley of Boca de Figueiral with fantastic views along the route you have been driven and into the valley ahead. There is intensive agriculture in the Paúl Valley and is one of the few regions in Santo Antão to have water all year, making it the greenest valley among all the islands of Cape Verde. You will continue your walk continually passing through small farming settlements and terraces perched on the mountainside before reaching Cabo de Ribeira. Overnight Cabo de Ribeira.

 

Ascent: 885m Descent: 500m Distance: 4.5 miles 3hrs 30 minutes

 

Day 3: Begin your second day with a walk to the rim of the Cova crater. The route follows a mule trail built by the Portuguese in colonial times for the valley inhabitants to collect water from Cova. You will then traverse the crater rim. Due to the fertility of the soil the floor of this extinct volcano crater has become a patchwork of farmland. Continue past some amazing rock formations to reach Espongeiros, a small village situated in the mountainous interior of the island and at the edge of the famous Estrada da corda. Overnight Espongeiros.

 

Ascent: 1,600m Descent: 800m Distance: 6 miles 4hrs

 

Day 4: Having spent the last two days walking up the deepest valley of North-eastern Santo Antão, today brings a longer walk across a drier landscape. You will cross part of the elevated plateau of Lagoa, through the valleys of Joao Afonso, Cha de Pedras and Ribeirao, some of the key places of rum distillation on Santo Antão. Today’s walk starts high in the middle of the island and descends along steep sided valleys to the north side of the island. This walk has some vertiginous sections as you descend from fertile highlands through barren mountain sides to the fertile valley below. Through the many paved paths which cross this valley you will reach Pedracin. Overnight Pedracin.

 

Ascent: 950m Descent: 2,050m Distance: 9.5 miles 6hrs

 

Day 5: Today you have a spectacular walk across more breath-taking scenery. Follow an ancient mule trail over the Mocho pass before descending to the small village of Chā d’Igreja. The final climb to the Mocho pass is steep but the sense of isolation and views amongst the peaks is awe-inspiring. You then descend with the ocean ever present in the distance before taking a cobbled trail up to the village where you will be met by a warm welcome from its inhabitants. Overnight Chā d’Igreja.

 

Ascent: 700m Descent: 850m Distance: 6.5 miles 4hrs    

 

Day 6: A complete contrast today, as you take on one of the most spectacular coastal walks that we have ever encountered. Follow an ancient cobbled mule track which has been carved from the cliff face.  The path rises and dips as it makes its way along this impressive stretch of coastline. The Atlantic Ocean pounds away at the rocks below and so often you see turtles paddling through the surf.  At times the path drops to sea level before rising again to the abandoned village of Aranha, the pretty hilltop village of of Fontainhas and on to the fishing port of Ponta do Sol. Watch as the local fishermen bring the catch of the day in their colourful little boats. Overnight Ponta do Sol.

 

Ascent/Descent: 500m Distance: 10 miles 5hrs 45 minutes

 

Day 7: Transfer to Cruzinha. From here you will walk through one of the most remote valleys in Cape Verde. Start your walk along a pebbled beach before going through the abandoned village of Ribeira de Inverno. Climb the Chupador mountain, leading to Riberia Alta, and isolated oasis that you cross before reaching the valley of Figueiras. Overnight Meio d’espanha.          

 

Ascent: 1,700m Descent: 1,100m Distance: 7.5miles 4hrs 45 minutes

 

Day 8: Todays walk will take you to the isolated communities of the northwest. Start along a road overlooking the ocean from Figueiras to reach Alto Mira, a large valley known for its irrigation system and many terraces overlooking a deep canyon, which you will follow until you reach Dominguinhas. Stay amongst sugar cane fields in this remote village, accessible only by foot. Overnight Dominguinhas.

 

Ascent: 1,150m Descent: 1,470m Distance: 8miles 5hrs

 

Day 9: From the canyon of Alto Mira you will follow the western fork to the village of Riberia da Cruz 'end of the line’ before climbing a zigzag path up a cliff leading to the Plateau of Norte. A change of scenery as we leave behind the irrigated crops to reach the deserted summit of this volcanic island. Overnight with a local family in Cha de Feijoal.

 

Ascent: 1,300m Descent: 350m Distance:10 miles 6hrs

 

Day 10: Today you will skirt the summit of the island and cross barren lands where you’ll find a few herds of sheep in search for food. Step by step you will approach the sea and the isolated fishing village of Monte Trigo. All along you’ll enjoy beautiful panoramas as you walk among mountains. Overnight in Monte Trigo, an isolated fishing village. 

 

Ascent: 570m Descent: 1,930m Distance: 11 miles

 

Day 11: From Monte Trigo, follow a spectacular costal path which ascends and descends along the ocean. You will then continue along the foothills of the slopes of the summit of island, the volcano Tope de Coroa (1900m) to reach Tarrafal de Monte Trigo, the end of your crossing of the island. Overnight in Tarrafal.

 

Ascent/Descent: 420m Distance: 6 miles

 
Day 12: Rest day. Swim and enjoy the beach. It is possible to explore your surroundings, the cultures or to go out at sea with the fishermen to fish or snorkel. Overnight in Tarrafal.

Flying from Sal:

Day 13: After breakfast you will be transferred to Porto Nova. Say farewell to Santo Antão as you board the ferry for your return crossing toSão Vicente. On arrival in Mindelo you will be transferred directly to the airport for your flight to Sal and on to your hotel on Sal. If your flight departs later in the day you may have time to explore Mindelo (unguided). Overnight in Sal

Day 14: Return to the airport for your flight home.

Flying via Lisbon or continuing onto the South:

Day 13: Today you have a choice.

Say farewell to Santo Antão as you board the ferry for your return crossing to São Vicente. On arrival in Mindelo you will be transferred to your hotel. Alternatively, you can transfer to Porto Nova after breakfast and take the early ferry crossing to São Vicente. Spend your afternoon exploring Mindelo (unguided) or if you prefer, take a guided walk on São Vicente. Overnight in Mindelo.

For a truly authentic Cape Verdean experience why not spend your last night in the fishing village of Salamansa? The local community here are working to ensure that tourism is directly benefiting the local population by opening their homes for visitors to stay. Overnight Salamansa.

Day 14: Return to the airport for your flight home.

This map is for illustration purposes only and we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy.

Availability Information

It is hot in the Cape Verde islands all year round with only a 6C difference between the highest (September) and lowest month (January). It is a dry country with almost no rain from November to June. Most rain arrives in September and one of the best times to go is October to December when the islands are at their greenest after the rains. 


Please note our best to go information is generally referring to the walking which may fall in the early or late season in some places. This may mean that not all tourist facilities will be open at the time you visit.

When to book your walking holiday in Cape Verde - Santo Antao - Remote West Trek

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