Hiking Volcanoes on Fogo Island in Cape Verde

Fogo Island, the land of fire, erupted back into life in 2014 when Pico de Fogo recorded one of the strongest eruptions ever recorded on the island. However, it’s highly likely you’ve never even heard of it due to Cape Verde’s isolation, I mean no-one cares because it isn’t affecting our air travel, right? We’re so fickle!

One of the main reasons I ventured to Cape Verde was so I could visit Fogo and in particular Pico de Fogo – the active volcano! The island itself consists of only one volcano that is almost round, this is because more than 73,000 years ago the eastern side of Fogo collapsed that caused a catastrophic tsunami that struck another of Cape Verde’s islands, Santiago.

Taken from an Airbus cockpit by the pilot
Source: Wikipedia

The amazing thing about this island, unlike the majority of Cape Verde’s other rather dry and flat neighbours is that it produces a large amount of not only fruit and vegetables but also beautiful coffee and wine. Although sadly the quantity isn’t significant enough to export, I was able to buy some coffee beans to bring back and believe me it’s some of the best I’ve tried as it has a raw natural sweetness that adds to its charm.

Cape Verde’s islands are all so unique and different, they could all in fact be different countries. Fogo reminded me of mainland Africa, from its cuisine of spicy chicken to the laid-back culture and frozen in time feeling, you will well and truly be on Africa-time. The languages spoken here are mostly French and Creole, due to many of its residents originating from Senegal and the mainland.

Since meeting my partner, things on my travels have slightly changed for me and I’ve had to think in very different ways when it comes to planning. This is because he has two children from a previous marriage and this often leads to me trying to figure out is it family friendly, is it LGBT+ friendly, will it be dangerous? Quite a culture shock considering some of the places I’ve previously visited, I don’t adapt very well but I can honestly say the two munchkins absolutely loved it!

You can in fact hike all the way to the top of Pico de Fogo, thankfully I’m not that insane, and as this trip was a family adventure we opted to do the slightly easier Pico Pequeno peak instead.

However, here’s how we got on…

Fogo is pretty much just straight up in the middle so to get there you’ll encounter some incredible scenery, and an amazingly good road to drive on!

As you begin to ascend you’ll notice the incredible crater landscape and the lava flow that occurred

Even looking straight up at the very top of Pico de Fogo is scary, let alone climbing it. Not for me!

Ok, so I didn’t climb the whole thing, but it certainly felt like it!

The View from Pico Piqueno

Walking along this path is fairly treacherous, especially if you aren’t very steady on your feet as the small stones move, a lot, meaning if you put one foot wrong you could slip all the way to the bottom.

The nearby villages were pretty much destroyed, this one was overcome by lava.

Even though they were completely destroyed, it appears that some people are beginning to venture back to their homes!

One of the most amazing and unique parts of Fogo is the fact that vines grow in the volcanic soil that helps the islanders to produce good-quality wine, make sure you head for a wine tasting and purchase some!

The best bit, no matter whether you do the small or big part of the volcano, reward yourself with a local Strela beer – YUM!

How can you visit Fogo Island?

Well, unfortunately there’s only one airline that fly there, Binter CV, although they aren’t expensive they have some serious issues with time-keeping. Our return flight back to Praia was delayed by 2.5 hours and almost cancelled, which seems to be a regular occurrence on this route so be sure to not get stuck on this tiny island as there is only one flight!

As I was short on time I decided to hire a guide to find out more about the island, its volcano and their quirks but sadly it seems I didn’t pick a great one. His command of English was fairly limited and now I’ve returned to the U.K I’ve actually learned more about Fogo from the internet than I did from him, so sadly I won’t be recommending the “Fogo Guide” (sometimes known as Creole Guide on Fogo).

It is a 2829m hike to the top of Pico de Fogo, so it isn’t for the faint-hearted but thankfully the Pico Pequeno can easily be hiked in approximately 1-2 hours roundtrip. Other than seeing the volcano, sadly there isn’t a huge amount of other things to do so I’d spend a maximum two nights here, but that’s just my personal opinion.

Sao Filipe – the capital of Fogo Island, Cape Verde

São Filipe

It’s well worth spending an hour or so wandering aimlessly around the rather steep streets of the capital on Fogo Island, Sao Filipe. It easily reminded me of Havana in Cuba or Massawa in Eritrea with its slightly run down but charming buildings and architecture. It’s currently on the contender list for UNESCO World Heritage status, only time will tell whether they actually achieve a place.

One of its best features is the beautiful black sandy beach which stretches quite a way and it can easily feel like you it’s just you and the sea as very few people come down here, mostly thanks to the fact that the town is raised up above a rocky edge.

This place can seem very isolated so if you have a cancelled flight or the sea is too rough for the ferry to head over to Brava island, you might get a bit stuck. There’s also no ATMs anywhere and nowhere seemed to take cards so make sure you bring all of your money with you!

Praia da Bila is a beautiful black sand beach located just a short from the centre of Sao Filipe

Further Information?

Fancy exploring more of Cape Verde? Discover the top things to see on Sal Island in Cape Verde.

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

All images copyrighted, if you wish to use any images produced in this blog article please contact me.

Top 5 things to see on Sal Island, Cape Verde

Sal; officially the “No Stress” island! The tourism industry in Cape Verde has come a long way in the last five years with brand new, exclusive resorts popping up all along the coastline. As the most popular destination for international tourists, it was my first calling point on my Cabo Verde adventure.

I’m quite obsessed about doing research before visiting any destination, I know, sometimes it can spoil it but sometimes it is also necessary to avoid any nasty surprises. Although there isn’t a huge amount to see here luckily I found a tour that encompassed all the hotspots to visit on the island as I was short on time, so I’ve compiled my top 5 favourite things to see and do on Sal.

My advice is to go with an open mind, it might be a little rough around the edges but don’t forget “no stress”!

An incredible experience, I had better photos but sadly my camera has decided to die on me :o(

Swim with Sharks

Yes, you read that correctly, I said you can swim WITH SHARKS! Thankfully for you, they are baby lemon sharks that are placid and are harmless. This was one of the things I was most looking forward to doing when I booked my trip to Cape Verde, there’s very few places in the world that enable you to get this close.

When you arrive in the rather appropriately named Shark Bay, you’ll be offered to rent a pair of rubber shoes that will protect your feet when walking over the coral to get to where the sharks hang out. Although I still found it pretty uncomfortable, they are well worth the €2 fee as the seller will come out to sea with you to help you spot the sharks.

I was impressed about was the fact that they wouldn’t let you get too close, one tourist was dragged back to avoid disturbing the sharks in their natural habitat.

Salinas de Pedra de Lume (the Salt Lake)

Take a dip in Salinas de Pedra de Lume (the Salt Lake)

Sal in Portuguese means Salt, the island has been producing it for more than 200 years, although sadly it is no longer exported due to lack of demand. Similar to the Dead Sea, although on a much smaller scale, you can float in one of their salt lakes.

I decided not to take part in this, simply because I’d done it previously, but it will cost you €5 for entry. Other tourists who took part in this mentioned that it much saltier than the Dead Sea

The Mirage of Sal Island

See the Mirage

It’s a cliche I know, but you truly can see an actual mirage that looks like there’s water on the horizon. I think it might have also helped that they offered us free alcohol in the Desert Bar!

Buracona – Blue Eye Cave
Top Left: My Version. Top Right: An Official Photo
I know, mine is pathetic right…

Buracona – visit the Blue Eye

So, I was tempted to leave this place off my list for several reasons including the fact that they charge €3 entry and make you queue for ages whilst Senegalese men try to sell you tacky souvenirs!

However, even with that said it was fascinating to peer perilously over the side of the cave to catch a glimpse of the beautiful blue shimmering water. Be aware that if you don’t like heights, it’s not advised as there’s nothing to hang on to, I was really worried I’d trip and fall in.

One of the beautiful beaches in Sal

Walk along the beach in Santa Maria

To be honest, I didn’t really believe the reviews of a perfect sandy beach in a place like Cape Verde but I certainly found it. If you venture out along Santa Maria Beach near the new Hilton Hotel you’ll get to enjoy the truly magical golden sand between your toes.

If you also fancy something a bit more adventurous, which sadly I didn’t fancy, you can try kite and wind surfing.

Further Information?

Fancy climbing an active volcano in Cape Verde? Hike Pico de Fogo, find out how here!

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

All images copyrighted, if you wish to use any images produced in this blog article please contact me.