During the ARC+ visit to Mindelo, Cape Verde, on the island of São Vicente there is the opportunity to visit the neighbouring island, Santo Antão. At some 779 km2 (301 sq miles) this is the largest of the Barlavento Islands group and the most western island of Cape Verde.
Organised with established local tour operators, World Cruising Club arrange a full day tour of the island which starts with an early morning ferry ride, guided minibus transport throughout the day, a coffee break, traditional lunch and various stops to local villages and attractions.
Santo Antão is quite unique and with large volcanic craters, dramatic ravines and valleys full of lush vegetation, this corner of the world is very unique and unlike any other island in the area.
After a 1-hour ferry ride from Port Mindelo to Port Novo, participants are meet by their drivers and guides for the day. Once departed from the port, the cobbled roads wind up to the middle of the island provided the most spectacular views to the South East. On arriving to the heights of the island quite often the top of the mountains are shrouded in swirls of misty cloud which limits the views, however, as the tour take you down the other side towards Corda, participants are met with the most dramatic and magnificent view of the enormous crater and Paul’s Valley situated to the north east of the island.
The enormity of the crater provides a flow of water over rich and fertile land which not only provides beautiful scenery but produces crops such as sugar cane, cassava, sweet potato and an abundance of magnificent bread fruit, apple and papaya trees.
After a quick walk around the colourful village of Ribeira Grande, the ancient capital of the island, included in the tour is a visit to the local distillery where the sugar cane is made into the local tipple ‘Grogue’. Tour guides provide an interesting talk on how the local people still use traditional methods by putting the sugar cane plant into a trapiche, which presses it, reducing it to a liquid. This is then fermented and distilled to become an alcoholic beverage. This process has been done for hundreds of years by the people of Cape Verde and it is argued the best grogue comes from Santa Antão.
With the option to try all the flavours, participants experience just how powerful this local tipple is!
After a coffee break and bite of deliciously home-made doughnuts, energy is boosted for an hours walk up through the valley towards the lunch venue. Escorted by tour guides, they explain all the various vegetation, how they locals work the land and other interesting facts about the islanders such as healthcare, family traditions, and support from other nations.
After a good walk (buses are at hand to assist with transportation at any time) a fine buffet lunch is served to include local cheeses, breads, salads, vegetables, eggs and beans. Fresh fruit juice, beer, wine and soft drinks are also include with lunch.
After lunch the tour takes you around the dramatic coastline to the north east of the island. With spectacular views of the rugged shoreline the winding road takes the tour through gigantic boulders and deep valleys looking out across the surfing waves of the Atlantic.
Having experienced the island and learning about its vibrant people, history and culture the buses return to Port Novo for the return ferry ride to Mindelo.
With its variety of landscapes, dramatic scenery, magnificent coastline, lush vegetation and vibrant welcoming locals this island is a ‘must see’ for those wishing to embrace the local areas and ways of the people from Cape Verde.