I found paradise! A land full of tropical fruits, coffee and foreign vegetables. With people so easy-going that you think that you know them since forever. A land where hard physical work pays off and nobody will ask you for a handout. And if children will approach you, they’ll not ask you for food or escudos, all they’ll ask for are pencils. This is Santo Antão, the lush green yard and lung of Cape Verde.
Every visitor arrives in Porto Novo: the harbour of Santo Antão is the arrival point of the ferry connecting the island to Mindelo, São Vicente. We’ll drive East, stay there without ever seeing the beach area and extending our stay twice.
What is it that makes every visitor fall in love with this island? Maybe the breathtaking views, the staggering heights, the kindness of its people, its large variety of fruits? After Mindelo, sometimes a bit stifling, Santo Antão comes like a fresh breeze full of green oxygen. Except for the Azores, no other landscape impacted me so much. Every morning I woke up full of joyful anticipation to discover new hiking trails through this imposing natural setting. And there are plenty of hikes to do. We stayed 10 days and didn’t have the time to do them all.
During the hikes, you’ll see the hard but simple life of the habitants of Santo Antão. The intensive agricultural use of the land made them construct terraces in the most isolated and dizzying corners of the mountains. Throughout the year, nature is very generous: most houses are surrounded by banana, coconut and papaya trees, coffee plants and depending on the season mangos, avocados and oranges. I discovered vegetables I never heard of before: yam, breadfruit, manioc, sweet potatoes and a sheer endless pumpkin variety.
Santo Antão’s impact on me is hard to put into words. The greatly contrasting landscapes triggered so many profound sensations that make it difficult for me to put them to paper. The effects of its staggering heights still resonate in my memories. With this in mind, this post is only a first humble attempt to express the unique beauty of Santo Antão.
Check also Paulina’s 6 BEST HIKES in Santo Antão for some of the most outstanding hikes of the island.
Photos © Paulina on the road
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