Cape Verde Islands
The Cape Verde Islands rise out of the ocean roughly 460 kilometres from the western coast of Africa. The archipelago is of volcanic origin and is divided into a northern and southern group, known respectively as the Windward and the Leeward Islands.
While the number of visitors continues to climb each year, mass tourism has yet to take hold on the Cape Verde Islands. Those looking to learn more about the country, its people and its culture will need a certain DIY spirit.
But for those who love hiking or simply enjoying tranquillity away from the hectic of large hotel facilities or tours that are planned down to the minutest details, then the “green islands” of Cape Verde (including the island of Santo Antão) have much to offer.
You just have to be ready for a bit of exploration!
Santo Antão is an island of contradictions: the northern and eastern parts of the island are lush and tropical, with expansive sugarcane fields, waterways, coconut palms and banana plantations, while the south and west are sparser, yet have a certain charm of their own.
A tour with a taxi along the old cobblestone streets of Porto Novo to the capital city of Ribeira Grande and on to Paúl – Aldeia Manga gives a feel for both sides of this second-largest island in the archipelago. Guests will get an up close and personal experience of more than just the flora and fauna of Santo Antão; they’ll also see the working side of the island, especially agriculture, which is existentially critical for the approx. 40,000 inhabitants of the island.
A foot tour allows for an even more intense exploration of the island’s beauty. Numerous hiking paths in all levels of difficulty spread out across 779 square kilometres. These paths lead through the desert areas of the south, through green valleys and into the forested mountains of the northern part of the island.
They are the perfect way to mix between a sporty and a culture-focused holiday.
Ribeira do Paúl Valley
Remote, yet accesible
The Ribeira de Paúl or more simply, Paúl Valley, is a refuge for nature lovers and hikers. It might well be described as the green heart of the island. It’s also the greenest valley of the entire Cape Verde Islands. Thanks to its climatic and geographical conditions, the region is primarily dedicated to agriculture. Sugarcane, bananas, papaya and mangos are grown in Paúl Valley, as are potatoes and vegetables. Breadfruit and coconut trees are also part of the picture.
A tour through the valley provides an initial impression of the diversity found here. For hikers there are eight routes covering all levels of difficulty. Those who prefer to take it easy and enjoy nature at their own pace can start with an extended stroll. Guests looking for a challenge can head for the high alpine trails, offering elevations of up to around 1,000 meters above sea level.
The town of Vila das Pombas is located directly on the ocean. Its infrastructure is acceptable by African standards, but certainly has room for improvement. There is a post office and a clinic, two restaurants, a chemist’s, several guest houses and two banks with cashpoints that accept Mastercard and Visa. What visitors won’t find is a classic beach holiday — the waves are too strong and the shoreline is completely stony.
On the flip side, the island offers endless summer, at least from a climatic standpoint. There’s always a light breeze and the temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees Celsius. In winter months temperatures tend toward a pleasant 20 to 25 degrees. The thermometer hovers between 17 to 20 degrees at night. The relative humidity during that time of year fluctuates between 50 and 70 percent. This results in very good visibility. Those travelling to Paúl Valley during summer can count on temperatures of 25 to 35 degree Celsius and humidity of 60 to 90 percent. Those on hand between mid-August and early October can count on a steady stream of heavy tropical rainstorms.
Once you’ve arrived with the ferry (here you can find ferry timetables) from Mindelo to Santo Antão, there are two options for getting to Aldeia Manga: either by private taxi or with the “Aluguer”, a shared taxi. We’re glad to arrange different private Taxi options for our guests.
* The trip with the Aluguer from Porto Novo to Paúl, Passagem and finally to Lombo Comprido (Long Hill) costs 400 Escudos (3.60 euros) per person. You will find our driver with the “ALDEIA MANGA”-sign on the harbour exit
* A private taxi — the drivers speak a bit of English — will cost either 40 euros (total price) along the newly paved coastal road or 60 euros (total price) along the old cobblestone panorama street to Aldeia Manga. By request the driver will stop to allow for holiday snapshots, to let you document your first impressions forever.
HIKING TO ALDEIA MANGA
Walk from the top of the valley down to us
* Those looking to immerse themselves into the island life from day one can opt to cut the private taxi ride short. Disembark at Cova Crater instead and hike to us from there. The trekking path is relatively challenging and takes three to four hours to descend over 800 meters along a steep mountain path. The luggage will be delivered by taxi right to Aldeia Manga – you can walk without luggage ! Details and directions, including a sketch, will be sent to you via email. (Total cost is 60 euros including luggage transport to Aldeia Manga).
Aldeia Manga is in the centre of the Paúl Valley in a small village of just 50 inhabitants. The ride first heads through Passagem, a small park, and from there via a small unpaved road one kilometre to Lombo Comprido. There you’ll find Aldeia Manga. But first there’s a roughly 50 metre long and quite steep footpath from where the car drops you off up to our property.