Jake’s Top Five Walks on Cape Verde

My favourites: Top Five Walks on Cape Verde.

Over the years, I have walked many of the trails spread across the nine islands of Cape Verde and these are the five that shouldn’t be missed:

Highlights of Cape Verde's Northern islands

1️⃣ Santo Antao – Cova crater descent into Paul Valley
In terms of wow-factor the views and scenery encountered on this walk are pretty hard to beat.  This is a really good walk to do when you arrive on the ferry from Mindelo, not too long and not too challenging either.  A short transfer takes you pretty much straight from Porto Novo on the coast via a twisty, cobbled road up to the rim of the crater.  Sometimes you have to put a bit of walking effort in before you’re met with any scenic rewards but not on this one! The crater itself is pretty spectacular, a great plain divided up into plots of land growing various vegetables and fruits, and then pretty soon after that, you round a corner and are faced with the sprawling Paul valley at your feet.  Mind-blowing just doesn’t do it justice, and my jaw was on the floor all the way down the serpentine track which takes you into the valley and to your overnight accommodation.  This is also one of the few Cape Verdean walks that can be done without the need of a local guide, so a fantastic option for those seeking independence.

2️⃣ Santiago – Calabaceira to Cidade Velha
This is another lovely hike and, if Santiago is the first island you head for, a good introduction to walking in Cape Verde because it is relatively short with hardly any uphill whatsoever. The route takes you from the small village of Calabaceira down a dried-up river bed to the coastal port of Cidade Velha, former capital of Cape Verde and the oldest settlement in the country (visited by historic celebrities Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus back in the late 1490s).  The thing that makes this walk special to me are the kingfishers – you can spot them in just about every tree you pass as you make your way down the valley! Having failed to spot any here at home I was amazed to see so many at once.

Guided walking in Cape Verde

3️⃣ Fogo – Mt Fogo Ascent
Perhaps one for those seeking a bit more of a challenge and definitely one for those seeking more of a challenge along with a bit of star-gazing! You need to set off early in order to make most of the ascent before the scorching sun is fully up, which means you need to stay up in the volcanic crater of Cha das Caldeiras the night before. There are hardly any artificial lights in the crater, making it a perfect location for looking at the starry night sky. An early alarm and a few hours of upward trudging later and you find yourself hundreds of metres above the clouds looking down into the foreboding mouth of an active volcano, one that last ‘went off’ just a few years ago in 2014.  They say what goes up must come down and here comes the fun part because one way to get back down the mountain is to don your gators and try some scree running!

Max’s Blog – Summiting Fogo Volcano on Cape Verde

4️⃣ Sao Nicolau – Monte Gordo Natural Park
Although it has been over 10 years since I was last on Sao Nicolau, a day spent walking in the Monte Gordo natural park is one of the memories that has stuck with me. I remember being amazed by the contrast and diversity of the terrain through which we walked, under the shadow of Monte Gordo itself.  One moment we were surrounded by dense green crops including papaya, coffee, tobacco and corn, and the next we were on what seemed to be akin to some sort of lunar landscape!  Another bonus about walking here is that there are many different routes to choose from so a great option for those looking for a shorter stroll as well as those looking for a nice long hike.

5️⃣ Santo Antao – Cruzinha to Ponta do Sol
Have I already mentioned that most of the walking in Cape Verde is guided?  Well, it is, but this is another really fantastic route that can be done independently, and it is almost impossible to get lost which is why it is another favourite of mine.  It is quite a long one and there is a fair bit of up and down along the way, but all efforts are rewarded as you arrive at Fontainhas, one of the most picturesque villages in Cape Verde and somewhere you can quench your thirst with something very cold and fizzy!  It’s a walk that works in either direction but in my opinion west to east is best, finishing in the former capital of Ponta do Sol.

Cape Verde Choice tailor made holidays.

There is so much to explore on Cape Verde – the 9 islands each have their own flavour and they are surprisingly different. The coffee is also excellent!

Max and Jake are our specialists for Cape Verde – they would love to hear from you and can talk to you in detail about the delights of this beautiful archipelago.

Call us: on 01768 721030.

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