Sao Vicente & Santo Antao : exploring the northen islands
    • Cape Verde - Cape Verde
    • 8 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to May
      • From October to December
    • 2 - 10 travellers
      • Comfort
      • Trip code : Z1101

About the Sao Vicente & Santo Antao : exploring the northen islands trip

About your walking trip in Cape Verde

Your Cape Verde walking holiday: In recent years, the Cape Verde archipelago has made a place for itself in the world of hiking. Not only for the beauty and variety of its islands but also for the friendliness of its population. The Cape Verde Islands are the meeting point between America, Portugal and Africa. They are the result of a unique crossbreeding that has given birth to incredibly open and warm-hearted people.

For this first approach to Cape Verde, we have chosen to combine the islands of Sao Vicente and Santa Antao. Two neighbouring islands, and yet so different. Sao Vicente is home to the cultural capital Mindelo, also known as the "little Brazil" for its bewitching carnival and lively nightlife. Opposite, an hour's boat ride away, is the imposing Santo Antao with its lush, lunar valleys, tropical culture and volcanic ridges. Here, walking is often the only way for the inhabitants to get from one village to another, thus, a whole network of paths has been developed over the centuries to the delight of hikers.

If you like to hike far from the crowds, in unspoiled landscapes while discovering a rich and fascinating culture, then this self-guided Cape Verde walking holiday is for you!

Highlights of the trip

  • A combination of two contrasting islands: Sao Vicente for its cultural and festive side, and Santo Antao for its exuberant nature
  • The varied and unmissable hikes on Santo Antao
  • Small family hotels  to enjoy the true and unique Creole-Portuguese-African hospitality
  • 4 dinners included
  • The hotel swimming pools on Santo Antao, so refreshing after a day's walk in the valleys!
  • Optional : 6 picnics


    Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

From the blog

Cape Verde walking holiday - Sao Vicente & Santo Antao, exploring the northen islands : Day by Day

Day 1 - Arrival on the island of São Vicente : Mindelo

  • mindelo, cape verde cesaria evora home townYour self-guided walking trip in Cape Verde begins on the island of São Vicente at Cesaria Evora airport. 
    The name of the airport sets the tone of the trip: you have just landed in the living home of Cape Verdean music, in the homeland of the "barefoot diva" who has spread the music and culture of "this little country" around the world. 
  • Private transfer to Mindelo centre. Depending on the time of your arrival, let yourself be tempted by a first walk - alone or accompanied by a guide - along its streets lined with old houses that forge the soul of the city.
    Founded by the Portuguese and developed by the English, the traces of this colonial presence are omnipresent: the Governor's Palace, whose exhibition hall is dedicated to the singer Cesaria Evora, the "rua de Lisboa" and its covered fruit and vegetable market, the tower of Belém, a replica of its Lisbon sister, the fish market, the mecca of everyday life ... so many exotic discoveries on this first day.
    Once the visit is over, enjoy a moment of relaxation on the beautiful Laginha beach from which you can see the imposing Santo Antao and have a swim! And for your first evening, immerse yourself in the Cape Verdean atmosphere in the numerous bars / restaurants of the city (important: live music is played especially on weekends). 
  • Night in Mindelo

  • We recommend
    Adding a night in Mindelo to discover the entire island of Sao Vicente
    With a private driver, explore Monte Verde which culminates at 750m for beautiful panoramic pictures, the beach of Baia das Gatas known for its music festival in August, Praia Grande with its beautiful white sand dunes and the extinct volcanoes of Calhau where you can take your first coastal walk of about 2 hours (Please contact us).
    . Letting yourself be tempted by a guided tour to discover the history of Mindelo  ( From 40€ for half a day)
    . Visiting the workshop of a luthier who makes all kinds of guitars and stringed instruments, including the very local cavaquinho, a small 4-stringed guitar, ancestor of the ukulele. (From 40€ per person with hotel transfers to and from the workshop )

  • Access - By air
    . There are regular direct flights from Lisbon in Portugal to Sao Vicente's airport.

Day 2 - Santo Antao: semi-arid landscapes of Ribeira das Patas and Alto Mira valleys

cape verde walking holiday son santo antao island

    • Curral das Vacas > Alto Mira 
      3 hours 30 - 8km / 5 miles - Ascent: +600 m / Descent: -500 m
    • You'll have to get up early this morning! Hiking shoes on, you take the ferry that connects Sao Vicente to Santo Antao, the garden of Cape Verde (1 hour crossing). A paradise for hikers, Santo Antao is crossed by a mountain range interspersed with sumptuous valleys, arid on its southern slope and lush on its northern slope. Upon your arrival in Porto Novo, welcome by your private driver and transfer to the circus of Ribeira das Patas. Defining in a way, the western and eastern parts of Santo Antão, this sparsely populated valley offers striking landscapes.
    • For this first walk, you will walk through desert landscapes, torn by a small canyon, before climbing to the ridges dominated by basalt peaks that can reach several metres high, known as "the dykes". Descent into the valley of Ribeira Alta on the lush green north side of sugar cane and banana plantations. You arrive on foot at your accommodation overlooking the valley. Here more than anywhere else, the swimming pool is a luxury that you will undoubtedly appreciate. 
    • Night in Alto Mira
    • MEALS included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3 - The impressive Bordeira do Norte

cape verde walking holidays

  • Cirio > Bordeira do Norte > Cirio
    . 4 hours 30 - 12,5 km / 8 miles - Ascent: +900 m / Descent: -900 m 
    . Please note: This hike is a more "challenging" hiking level
  • This morning, the wall called Bordeira do Norte, which overlooks the circus of Ribeira das Patas, will be your challenge. Hiking in an alpine ambiance, it is probably one of the most beautiful trails of the archipelago. The path winds its way up along ochre-coloured rocks. Along the way you may meet some locals and their donkeys who come to fill their water cans in unlikely springs. On the plateau, the landscape changes radically: vast stretches of land as far as the eye can see.
    Take the time to admire this landscape that embraces the heights of the island up to Porto Novo through the Tope de Corea, the highest peak of the island which culminates at 1979 m. Descend to the village by an almost vertical majestic paved path, a true masterpiece, all the way to your accommodation.
  • Night in Alto Mira 
  • MEALS included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 4 - Cova crater and Ribeira da Torre

cape verde adventure holidays

  • Cova Crater > Ribeira da Torre > Xoxo hamlet
    4 hours - 7 km / 4,3 miles - Ascent: +50 m / Descent: -1250 m (without counting the detour in the crater)
  • Today you continue your journey northwards through the fertile valleys of the island to explore another facet of Santo Antao.  The taxi will drop you off at the Cova Crater, in the heart of the large natural park of the same name. Cova's dormant volcano is a huge crater that has collapsed in on itself, with a bottom lined with crops and wild flowers. In good weather the panorama is splendid. You can take a few steps in the crater before starting your hike through the pine and mimosa forests to finally plunge into the Ribeira da Torre, one of the steepest and most spectacular valleys on the island.
    On the last part of the itinerary, you will enjoy the terraced crops of bananas and sugar cane. Transfer to your accommodation located in the nearby valley: the very lush Paul Valley where you will spend your next two nights!
  • Night in Paul Valley 
  • MEALS included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 5 - The Paul Valley Gardens

cape verde travel specialist

  • Eito > Pico Antonia > O Curral 
    3 hours 45  - 6,2 km / 3,9 miles - Ascent: +500 m / Descent: -200m
  • From your accommodation, you will walk up the greenest and most fertile valley of the island. A magnificent trail to discover the agricultural world of the island. Following the river beds and the traditional hamlets, let yourself be carried away by the sound of the water flowing here and there in small levadas which come to irrigate the innumerable tropical crops: banana plantations, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, yam fields, breadfruit trees... Everything seems to grow effortlessly here and in abundance. And yet it is indeed the men and women who work hard on each cultivated plot, sometimes in places only accessible on foot. The path ascents to reach the pass where the panoramic view over the valley and the ocean is breathtaking. 
    At the end of the walk, make a stop at the bar O Curral in the village of Cha de Joao Vaz. There you can enjoy a traditional rum or a traditional goat's cheese if you are peckish!
  • Return by taxi to your accommodation located not far from a traditional and home-made rum factory which we strongly recommend you visit to understand the process of making the national drink! ( Open from January to June - Free entrance)
  • Night in Paul Valley 
  • MEALS included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6 - Along the coast

cape verde walking guide

  • Ponta do Sol > Fontainhas > Cruzinha
    5 hours - 15 km / 9,3 miles - Ascent: +650 m / Descent: -650 m
  • This morning you exchange the peacefulness of the mountains for the seaside and the fishing village of Ponta do Sol, the island's former flourishing port. There reigns a nonchalant (and not unpleasant!) atmosphere as you stroll along the cobbled streets lined with colourful or colonial houses. Here one lives to the rhythm of fishing and a stormy sea. Take the time to stop on the port to observe the colourful boats that battle against the waves to finally land lobsters, blackbirds, moray eels ....
    But Ponta do Sol is also the starting point of one of the most spectacular trails of the island: a paved coastal path, dug in the volcanic walls. A real human feat! It will lead you first to the village of Fontainhas with its colourful houses perched on a promontory and then to the forgotten hamlets of Corvo and Formiguinhas, where time seems to have stood still. The path continues up high, in a succession of ascents and descents to the magnificent and wild black sand beach of Mocho (caution: swimming is forbidden as the sea is very dangerous) and then to the village of Cruzinha where your taxi is waiting for you. Transfer back to Ponta do Sol.
  • Night in Ponta do Sol
  • MEALS included: Breakfast 

Day 7 - The gardens of the central valleys - Return to Mindelo

cape verde beach

  • Coculi > Valleys of Joao Alfonso and Cha das Pedras
    3 hours 45 - 12,8 km / 8 miles - Ascent: + 580 m / Descent: -500 m
  • Transfer to Coculi, one of the historical centres of the great central valleys. You go up the small bucolic valley of Figueiral, before exploring the valleys of Joao Afonso and Cha de Pedras. An agricultural region dotted with lively hamlets, terraces with tropical crops such as banana, coffee, cassava and cabbage.
    After this superb farewell hike on Santo Antao, transfer to the port of Porto Novo via the panoramic road "Estrada da Corda". This paved road, built by hand, stone by stone for nearly 30 years, crosses the island, rising in a multitude of bends at an altitude of nearly 1 000 metres, before descending towards the coast. The views and the peaks are breathtaking! Return ferry to Mindelo at the end of the afternoon.  
  • Night in Mindelo 
  • MEALS included: Breakfast

  • We recommend :  
    . Deepening your discovery of Santa Antao: let yourself be tempted by an extension in the south of the island to the seaside village of Tarrafal de Monte Trigo in a beautiful black sand bay 
    . Spending an evening in Mindelo: let yourself be tempted by an evening demonstration of capoeira, this martial art halfway between dance and wrestling. You can even give it a go if you are brave enough!  ( From 100 € for 2 persons)

Day 8 - End of your walking tour in Cape Verde!

santo antao andmindelo cape verde

  • End of your trip after the transfer to Sao Vicente's airport.
  • MEALS included: Breakfast

  • We recommend continuing your discovery of Cape Verde with one of our extensions !
    . on the impressive island of Fogo to hike up to the highest point of the archipelago (2829 m)
    . on the beautiful white sand beach islands of Sal or Boa Vista

More hiking trips in Cape Verde

    • Cape Verde - Cape Verde
    • 8 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to May
      • From October to December
  •   Accommodation choice :

      • Comfort
  • Highlights of the trip

    • A combination of two contrasting islands: Sao Vicente for its cultural and festive side, and Santo Antao for its exuberant nature
    • The varied and unmissable hikes on Santo Antao
    • Small family hotels  to enjoy the true and unique Creole-Portuguese-African hospitality
    • 4 dinners included
    • The hotel swimming pools on Santo Antao, so refreshing after a day's walk in the valleys!
    • Optional : 6 picnics


      Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

      • Cape Verde - Cape Verde
      • 12 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to May
      • From October to December
  •   Accommodation choice :

      • Simple
      • Comfort
  • Highlights of the trip

    • Exploration of 5 islands from north to south of the archipelago among volcanic craters, lush valleys and traditional villages
    • The challenging ascent of the highest peak of the archipelago with a guide: the Pico of Fogo (2829 m)
    • Take off your hiking boots in Sal and just relax on the magnificent white sandy beaches 
    • Internal flights included  + 4 dinners and 1 lunch included
    • A picnic option is available on the hiking islands


      Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

    Sao Vicente & Santo Antao : exploring the northen islands
        • Cape Verde - Cape Verde
        • 2 adults (2x650€)
        • 0 children (0x650€)
      • 8 days
      • Comfort
    Total 1300€
    Deposit 390€
    Book now !