Walking Holidays in Cape Verde - Santo Antao - Dramatic Coastline

Holiday Highlights
  • Most famous Cape Verdean Island for walking
  • Spectacular landscape of jagged peaks clinging to the cliffs
  • Dramatic coastal and inland paths to explore

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  • Overview
  • Walking
  • Pricing
  • Map
  • Accommodation
  • Info

This trek can be combined with the Southern Islands 7 nights to make 14 nights.

Santo Antão. This is the most famous walking island and is the second largest. We concentrate on the north east. Here is 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!

No visitor can help being overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery of Santo Antão where the colours, shapes and vegetation as well as the local wildlife (which includes vultures, kestrels, wagtails, blackcaps, sparrows and some reptiles) are all so striking.

The Walking 

We offer this holiday on a guided and self-guided basis. The paths are generally good but may be indistinct in places and can become overgrown our walk notes are therefore essential. On Santo Antão a good head for heights is necessary for the paths as well as the mountain roads!  Paths however are mostly mule trails with a small wall for comfort and protection from any 'droppy bits'. We recommend self-guided only for confident walkers as although a safe country to be in, the islands' interior is remote and villages relatively inaccessible. A guide is recommended, and they are not expensive. 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 this island.


This trek can be combined with the Southern Islands 7 nights to make 14 nights.

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. 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 Santo Antão where you are met upon arrival and transferred to the centre of the island at Cova de Paul. Start by walking across an old volcano crater now farmed as the soil is so fertile. After a short climb to the crater rim, descend on an amazingly steep, zig zag non vertiginous mule trail into the spectacular Paul valley passing farmer’s terraces clinging to the mountain side and with your first vision of Cape Verdean life and her happy, friendly people. Walk to your chosen hotel.

Ascent: 200m. Descent: 1500m. Distance: 5 ½ miles. Time: 4 ½ hours.

Overnight Paul Valley

Day 3: Today a wonderful undulating walk through fertile valleys and across low mountain ridges but never far from the coast. The landscape is dramatic and local people so friendly. You finish at a interesting place used by exiled Portuguese Jews and Lepers. Transfer back to Paul Valley. 

Ascent: 350m. Descent: 700m. Distance: 4 ½ miles. Time: 4 hours.

Overnight Paul Valley

Day 4: Paul Valley to Pedracin. Start high in the middle of the island but walk down another steep sided valley going to the other side of the island. This walk has some vertiginous sections as you descend from fertile highlands through barren mountains sides to the fertile valley below. There is a shorter, completely non-vertiginous walk if preferred.

Ascent: 150m. Descent: 1050m. Distance: 5 ½ miles. Time: 4 hours. 

Overnight Pedracin

Day 5: Pedracin to Cha de Igreja. Today you walk directly on to your next - at times it is not possible to transfer luggage to this village and you may need to carry overnight things. A spectacular walk across more stunning terrain as you climb out of the valley on a mule track for 700 metres to a ridge with stunning views to the valley and Pedracin, and to your next overnight stop and the sea beyond. The final climb to the top is steep, but the path remains protected by a wall waist height on your left. You then descend through a delightfully cultivated area to the small village of Cha de Igreja (an easy river crossing may be required after the rainy season). 

Ascent: 440m. Descent: 580m. Distance: 6 miles. Time: 4 hours. 

Overnight Cha de Igreja

Day 6: Today’s walk is a complete contrast as you take on one of the most spectacular coastal walks that we have encountered. Follow an ancient cobbled mule track which has been carved in places from the cliff face then cobbled and walled for protection.  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 Fontainhas and on to the fishing port of Ponta do Sol. Watch the local fishermen bring the catch of the day in their colourful little boats. 

Ascent: 500m Descent: 500m. Distance: 7 miles. Times: 6 hours 

Overnight Ponta Sol

Day 7: Explore the delightful fishing village of Ponta do Sol before transferring to the port and ferry to São Vicente. On arrival, transfer to the airport for your flight to Sal and on to your hotel on Sal.

Overnight Sal

If travelling via Lisbon, stay another night in Mindelo, and you will have the opportunity to explore this fascinating town steeped in British history. 

Overnight Mindelo 

Day 8:
In the morning either walk on Sao Vicente or explore the Salt Pans on Sal before returning to the airport for your return flight. If travelling via Lisbon, transfer to the airport for your early morning flight. Guide is not included on this day. 

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

Santo Antao Hotel to Hotel Trek

You have a choice of upgrading your hotel for all but two of the nights. We have given individual details below.


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 - Dramatic Coastline

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