São Tomé & Principe – Africa’s forgotten islands
Rising dramatically out of the Atlantic Ocean are the sugarloaf peaks of São Tomé and Príncipe. Covered in lush rainforest, rivers and water falls,and fringed by sandy beaches, these islands have a very relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.
The islands lie 300 kilometres from the Gabonese coast and consist of the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe and a dozen beautiful tiny islets (one of which, Las Rolas, straddles the equator). The island interior is covered in dense rainforest, packed with endemic flora and fauna. Old cocoa plantation roads wind through the forest past giant begonias, orchids and tree ferns, with monkeys crashing through the canopy and grey parrots fluttering overhead. There are crumbling planters houses, almost taken over by the forest and where you can stay when hiking and eat by flickering candlelight. Sao Tome & Principe is the only African country where cacoa is grown and actually produced. It is said that the best chocolate in the world can be eaten right from the plantation shops.
The coastline has a few faded colonial towns and lots of small fishing villages where racks of red snapper are laid out to dry. There are strings of sandy beaches backed by palm trees and offshore reefs with rare corals. Some beaches are reached on foot, some by boat and others only accessible to turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs in the warm sand.
What to expect
Sao Tome & Principe are two small islands where you will have the feeling that time stood still. Sao Tome has numerous good lodges and resort type of accommodation, whereas Principe hosts a great small beach resort with banda type rooms with all facilities. All kinds of activites can be arranged on both islands: from abseiling to city walks to fishing tours and scuba diving.