Santo Antão - where to stay
Altogether I spend 28 days in Cabo Verde, visited 3 islands – Ilha de Santiago, Ilha de Sao Vicente and Ilha de Santo Antao. Every island is totally different but if I had to choose one from these 3 that I'd like to come back to and explore more, it would definitely be Santo Antao. Why? The answer is simple – the most incredible nature.
Santo Antao is the second largest island in Cabo Verde. It's perfect for nature lovers, fans of active holidays or simply people who want to chill. Everyone will be pleased.
The first question that you need to ask yourself when you arrive in Santo Antao is where to stay. Santo Antao is the second largest island in Cabo Verde so make sure you stay in a place that is has a lot to offer as the transport to other places may simply waste a lot of your time.
I decided to start exploring Santo Antao from the mountain valleys of Paul. I stayed at Lela D'Fermina Guest House, a place recommended to me by my friend in Sao Vicente. The Guest House is quite new (opened in 2018) and certainly one of the nicest place I've ever stayed. My favourite place was an outdoor garden with a swimming pool that has the most amazing view of the mountains. Chilling in a swimming pool was definitely an excellent choice when my body simply said no more after hours of hiking (there are different hikes, I did ones that lasted 5-7 hours). And looking at the mountains made me still remember that I was at this beautiful island.
My first tip when choosing accommodation would be - make sure you have a pleasant place to recharge your batteries. Hikes can be really exhausting. I stayed in a couple of places at the island and Lela D'Fermina Guest House was certainly I relaxed the most.
Second advice – have a decent breakfast and pack your lunch! There are different hikes, some of them will take you through villages when you can rest and have something to eat but others not. The first hike I did (to a waterfall Spanader de Neve) was mainly in a valley involving climbing rocks etc. The only food I came across was papaya and bananas on the tree (unfortunately still green :( ). That day I really appreciated a huge breakfast that kept me full and some fruits that I still had with me. From that day I decided to always take food with me. Some of the guesthouses offer breakfasts, some of them don't so you would need to look for some restaurants to eat. I personally preferred to have my breakfast where I stayed so that I didn't need to waste time looking for a place to eat and then waiting for the food (I always waited for a long time to get my food in Cabo Verde) but instead could set off early for my hike.
Here is my breakfast at Lela D'Fermina Guest House. Of course, I didn't eat everything and packed half with me :D. Miranda, the housekeeper prepares delicious food. The fresh fruit juice (unfortunately not so easy to find in other guesthouses or restaurants) and a traditional cake from Santo Antao were my favourites. And the tea, from the plant from the garden was just delicious.
I'm plant based and Miranda made sure that each day I had something delicious to eat.
Lunch and dinner are not included in the price but if you'd like to eat some delicious and traditional food, make sure to speak to Claudio Fernandez, the manager but who is also a guide. He will organize something nice in either the guesthouse or his house. I find this really helpful for those who don't eat meat. Cabo Verdian cuisine is meat or fish based so I found it very difficult to taste their local food. Having someone prepare a vegan version of their dishes was just perfect.
To me, the food is most important so once that is sorted I can look into exploring the island.
A first question you may ask yourself is – where to hike? I did some research on the Internet before I came to Santo Antao and I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. However, Claudio was of the biggest help. If you're lucky enough to stay in the Guesthouse you can ask him for advice and he will recommend you the best places to hike to, depending on what you want to see, how to fit you are etc. If you stay elsewhere and would like to book a tour with him, you can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp him at (+238)9864377.
Me and my friend are obsessed with waterfalls and that was our first request – any hike that involves a waterfall. And we went to Spanader de Neve which was beautiful and the hike itself was so rewarding too. And I didn't know about this place even though I had a guidebook and did some research on the Internet. So again, asking local people is the best. And from then I was just relying on his recommendations for both Santo Antao and Sao Vicente (as I had still a few days on Sao Vicente after Santo Antao). I hiked with my friend using Claudio's hand-drawn maps but you if don't feel like doing it on your own, you can ask for a tour!