Cape Verde Islands
The BRADT Travel Guide

Aisling Irwing - Colum Wilson


The town, also known as Igreja, is a useful stopping point during trips around the island but otherwise is not worth a visit. It has a pretty centre, squashed between the mountain and the sea, and a depressing suburbia of black, lava- block houses built on black lava rock. Mosteiros is entering a decline because of the closure of its airport.
It has two squares: one houses the post office (Mon-Fri 08.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00) and the police station; the other contains the still-open TACV office which will confirm your flight out of Fogo by phone (Mon-Fri 08.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00) and the hospital. The bank (Mon-Fri 08.00-14.00) is beside the pensao. There's a telephone in one of the squares. There is no electricity between 04.30 and 07.00 in the morning.

Getting there and away
The aluguer-run to and from Sao Filipe is a fantastic journey along the precipitous eastern slope of the island. You can do the journey in the dark on one of the pre-dawn runs to the capital. In the case of a fast aluguer driver this can be quite a relief The proprietor of Pensao Christine will arrange for one of the drivers to call at the hotel for you at about 04.45.

Pensio Restaurante Christine e Irmaos (tel: 831045) in a green building on the main road through town, has lovely, airy rooms and a good restaurant serving traditional food with a main dish about 550$. Christine speaks English and French. Double 2,500$; single 1,800$

What to do
There are various strolls up into the lower slopes of the volcano. To walk up to Feijoal for a drink (two hour round-trip), leave Mosteiros on the south road and, a little after the big Delegaçao de Fogo, take the cobbled road on the right (ignore a turning up to the leftjust before Feijoal). After a drink at the mercado, find a little footpath (caminho para Igreja) back into the centre of Mosteiros: with your back to the mercado turn right and the path is a few metres along on the left, running between two buildings. It's a bit slippy and the less sure of foot may prefer to return by the road.

Monte Veiho and the crater from Mosteiros
This five-hour, steep hike, is the opposite walk of that described in To Mosteiros. To set out using the footpath to Feijoal, begin with your back to the big green building on the main street (Pensao Christine) turn left on to the road and then, very soon, right down the side of the imposing pink town hall. Follow a boulder- and rubbish-strewn path for about l00m after which it turns upwards and to the left and the uncomfortable rocks disappear. The path zig-zags up the hillside round the odd house until, after 40 minutes, you emerge on Feijoal's cobbled road. Turn left on to the road and then right up another road to Pai Antonio. From here, ask for Montebarro where the path leaves the villages behind and winds upwards. Other paths will appear but always go uphill until you emerge at Monte Velho.

Nothing else on Fogo matches a crater visit but all of the visits below are pleasant ways of filling spare days on the island.

Walking round the north
At present it is not possible to drive right round the island because the road is interrupted to the north. But you can walk the missing section if you set off early. From the Mosteiros end the first 2km north along the coast are dismal - save your legs and hitch if you can. Just before the airport, there is a left turning uphill. This is the beginning of a spectacular road which goes up to Ribeira Ilhéu and then continues as a 9km track to Sao Jorge. From there you have to try and hitch back to Sao Filipe - there is supposed to be an aluguer at 13.00. The better alternative is to take a mid-morning aluguer to Sao Jorge from Sao Filipe and walk in the other direction, staying in Mosteiros at the end of the walk.

Round-island drive
This should be possible from 1999 when work to bridge the two ends of the perimeter road finishes. It will be a spectacular trip, the east coast road looping under the crater walls, its landscape menacing and dismal by turns. The southern portion of the road is gentler and in the east is lovely countryside with old farmhouses and then, to the northwest, the odd deep ribeira. If you hire a car for the day you could cover these roads and also go into the volcano - but you have to return from the volcano on the same road.

Sao Lourenço
A large church and a peaceful graveyard - clusters of white crosses all with stunning views of Brava. Visiting it is a pleasant way of enjoying the green Fogo lowlands. It is a 12km round-trip but you will probably find lifts for bits of the way. Leave Sao Filipe from the roundabout opposite the Xaguate, and with your back to the hotel, take the second turning on the left (the first leads down to the port).

Monte Genebra and Nossa Senhora do Socorro
Find an aluguer to Forno and from there walk to the village of Luza Nunes, then take the left fork to Monte Genebra. German development workers helped to build these gardens in 1976. Pumping stations take hundreds of cubic metres of water from a natural spring near the sea, to water tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages and fruits. You can go to the top of Monte Genebra while, down towards the sea is the little chapel of Nossa Senhora do Socorro.

It is often dangerous to swim on Fogo, but when the sea looks really calm it is safe at the beach at the port, and at Praia Nossa Senhora. The best place to swim, however, is Ponte Salina - a stunning cove with black rock formations smothered by white sea spray and riddled with grottos and reefs. It can be reached on the Sao Jorge aluguer - ask to be dropped off there and check what time the aluguer is returning. A big disco and bar is planned there.

There are at least three volcanic tubes to explore on Fogo. The tubes are lava flows that solidify on the outside, after which the inner liquid flows away leaving them hollow inside. Inside they are beautiful, with frozen lava in streams down the inner walls like melted chocolate.
Two of the caves lie on an imaginary line drawn roughly between Pico de Fogo and Sao Lourenço, on the slopes of Fogo a bit higher than the roads. To reach them ask at Bar Teresa for Robert, who will take you to Ribeira de Aguadinha, to a large concrete water tank and then on to the caves. Access to one involves a 5m crawl before it opens out into a larger area. Bring a good head torch and don't go alone. The floors of the caves are uneven.

from: Cape Verde Islands- The BRADT Travel Guide
Aisling Irwing - Colum Wilson

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