Walking Holidays in Cape Verde - Multi Island - Northern Islands


Holiday Highlights
  • Island hop between cultural São Vicente and fascinating Santo Antão,
  • Begin in the tranquil centre of the island, cross over old volcanic craters and witness the traditions of simple mountain life
  • Experience an unbelievable coastal walk, where you can spot dolphins, turtles and whales along the way


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  • Overview
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Northern Cape Verde Islands

São Vicente, This island is the smallest Cape Verde walking island we feature and it has the closest link with the UK. Its beautiful harbour was a major coaling station for British vessels en route to all parts of its empire. When oil replaced steam the British departed but left behind their architecture and some of its culture and language still used today. Here there is a climb to the top of the highest mountain.
Santo Antao, This is the most famous Cape Verde walking island being the second largest and we concentrate on the north east. Here is a spectacular landscape of jagged peaks either side of deep valleys (Ribeiras) where people live and farm clinging to the valley sides on perilous terraces. Bananas, cassava and sugar cane are grown as well as other seasonal fruits and vegetables. The coastline is no less dramatic with paths clinging to the side of dramatic cliffs and offering one of the best coastal walking experiences imaginable.
Sal, You may have to travel via Sal and stay overnight as only this island has both a non stop air link with the UK and good air connections with the other islands. The island is flat and dull for a walker, but it does have some excellent hotels for overnight stays or a relaxing few beach days at the end of the holiday.

You can combine the North & South Islands and create a 14 night island hopping holiday

Santiago, the largest island in the archipelago, it is host to the capital of the country, Praia. It is extremely mountainous with hardly any flat land on the island. The highest peak is nearly 1400m, which is the focal point of one of many natural parks in the country. The walking is varied with mountainous and historic walks available.  

Fogo, is one of the most geologically dramatic of not only this Cape Verdean group of islands but any worldwide. The island is dominated by a caldera, a partially collapsed giant volcano out of which is the relatively new volcano of Pico (2829m), the highest peak in Cape Verde.

Sal, You may have to travel via Sal and stay overnight as only this island has both a non stop air link with the UK and good air connections with the other islands. The island is flat and dull for a walker, but it does have some excellent hotels for overnight stays or a relaxing few beach days at the end of the holiday.


The Walking – Guided 
We offer this holiday on a guided basis. The paths are generally good and many are smooth cobbled mule trails. However, some can become overgrown or become indistinct amongst the terraces and vegetation. On Santo Antão a good head for heights is necessary both on the hiking trails and the mountain roads! This is a destination where a guide is a great asset to your Cape Verdean 'experience' as they can give so much local information and help you to experience island life (you will undoubtedly be invited for a delicious cup of Cape Verdian coffee at a friends' or relatives' house). Guides are inexpensive and we offer a guided package where you will have your own private guide who will also ensure you receive all the necessary background to fully enjoy these islands. 

Walk Grading

We grade as Moderate to Challenging, however as you would have your own guide you can vary the walks to your own abilities.  Vertiginous sections do exist on Santo Antão but there is virtually always a small wall along the path side for comfort. The majority of paths are generally more than 1 metre in width and the local island council maintains the cobbled trails well - they are still used by locals interlinking villages as well as walkers!

Getting Around – Inter Island We mainly use inter island flights as they are the most reliable and are the fastest way between the islands. Santo Antão has no working airport so we travel here by ferry regular from Sao Vicente which takes one hour. 

Here is a typical itinerary, which can be varied. Some changes may be necessary when flight times are known for your journey.

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 own leisure to explore Mindelo.Overnight Mindelo.

Day 2: Meet your guide who will transfer with you to the port for an early ferry to the neighbouring island of Santo Antão. From Porto Nova you will be driven to the lush Paul 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. As you begin your walk you will discover the terraces which cling to the mountainside, passing sugarcane plantations and fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Continue through a wild valley to the edge of the sea in Vila das Pombas. In the afternoon you will be transferred to Ponto do Sol, a charming fishing village with well-preserved colonial architecture. Overnight Ponta do Sol.

Ascent: 885m Descent: 500m Distance: 5 miles 3hrs 30 minutes

Days 3 & 4: Today and tomorrow you have a choice from the following walks: 

Along the Coast 

This is one of the most spectacular coastal walks that we have 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. 

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

Cova Crater

Climb 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 Covo. 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.

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

Pinhao to Sinagoga

Transfer to the start of the walk at Pinhao via a steep, narrow cobbled road with stunning views down to the coast.  The walk is a true insight into the Cape Verdean rural way of life.  Most of the terraces are still worked and you will meet and greet many locals during the hike. The path is always visible although very narrow in places and occasionally obscured by foliage.  Some ascents and descents need caution especially if wet. You will pass terraces of maize, coffee, yam and manioc along with some superb examples of Dragon Trees.  In the 1940's the region was more densely populated, but a period of drought caused many to leave for better climes.  Although rural, the area feels safe and clean to walk through and people are very friendly.

Ascent: 400m Descent: 800m Distance: 9 miles 5hrs 30 minutes

Espongeiro to Cha de Pedras

This walk takes you across a drier landscape which is often over rough and rocky with some vertiginous sections and some steep descents into the valley below.  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 other 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

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

Corda to Figueral and Coculi

An easier option to Espongeiro to Cha de Pedras with no vertiginous sections and this is a truly delightful and fairly easy walk. Although virtually all downhill, views are magnificent throughout the walk, especially in the early stages.

Ascent: 10m Descent: 900m 4 miles 3hrs

Pedracin to Cha de Igreja

Today you have a challenging but spectacular walk across more breath-taking scenery. Follow an ancient mule trail over the Mocho pass before descending to the small village of Cha de 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.

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

Ribeira da Torre 

This stunning circular walk rivals the Paúl valley in its beauty and is reached by a transfer from your accommodation via Ribeira Grande and the quaintly named village of Xôxô in the valley of the Ribeira da Torre. Spend the day discovering its unique rural life and cultures. The route follows the irrigation canals and leads to the pleasant village of Rabo Curto where crops are grown on steep but well-tended terraces, with wonderful views of the valley and the volcanic towers after which the valley is named. 

Ascent: 600m Descent: 500m Distance:3 miles 4hrs 

Overnight Ponta Sol

Day 5: Take another walk from the above choice for days 3 & 4 and at the end of the walk you will be transferred to Cha da Morte in the Ribeira das Patas. Alternatively, you can take a morning transfer and walk in Ribeira das Patas, or you can take a rest day and transfer in the morning to Cha da Morte. 

Overnight Cha da Morte

Day 6: You have a choice from the following walks: 

Circo to Cha da Morte 

Short transfer to Cirio, mounted on the Norte Plateau. This walk is one of the highlights in the west of Santo Antao and takes you from the Alta Miro road up to the sheer cliffs of the Ribeira das Patas, then on to a mule trail along the cliff face with commanding views across the islands. On one side you have the arid volcanic summit and on the other the lush steep sloping ravines. You will see the spots where the locals from the Norte Plateau go to collect water for their donkeys. After the cliffs you climb up the Norte Plateau to a wonderful shady viewpoint before a challenging descent back to Chā de Morte. You descend on an impressive cobbled path which clings to the cliff and is often cut from the cliff itself. 

Ascent: 1,450m Descent: 1,700m Distance: 6 miles  4hrs

The Norte Plateau 

Transfer to Alto Mira to discover the semi-arid landscapes of Ribeira das Patas, varying between cultivated oases, basaltic blades and farmer villages. 

Ascent: 380m Descent: 490m Distance: 4hrs 

Overnight Cha da Morte

Flying from Sal:

Day 7: After breakfast you will be transferred to Porto Nova, via the Estrada da corda, a spectacular paved road which crosses the island through the mountains. 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 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 Sal

Flying via Lisbon or staying on in Cape Verde:

Day 7: Today you have a choice

Spend the morning discovering the semi-arid landscape of Ribeira das Patas, varying from cultivated oases to basaltic rocks. After lunch you will be transferred to Porto Nova, via the Estrada da corda, a spectacular paved road which crosses the island through the mountains. 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 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 benefiting the local population by opening their houses for visitors to stay. Overnight Salamansa.

Day 8:
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. 

Why not combine the North & South Islands and create a 14-night island hopping holiday?

Day 1-6: As Southern 7-night itinerary.

Day 7: Transfer to the airport fly to São Vicente via Praia and transfer to your hotel. Overnight São Vicente.

Day 8: Rest day on São Vicente in a small coastal resort hotel.

Day 9-15: As Day 2 to Day 8 of Northern 7 night itinerary.

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

Cape Verde Northern Islands Multi Centred

We have personally stayed in or visited all of our accommodations. They have all been selected for their great locations, friendly atmosphere and traditional hospitality, as well as the warm welcome they offer to walkers. Below is a summary of our usual accommodations..(Accommodation subject to change see # at bottom)

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Availability Information

It is hot in the Cape Verde islands all year round with only a 6C difference between the highest (Sep) and lowest month (Jan). 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 - Multi Island - Northern Islands

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
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