Fogo Cape Verde (Fogo means ‘fire’ in Portuguese) is the most prominent of the Sotavento group of Cape Verde islands. It is in the south-west of the Cape Verde archipelago. Pico do Fogo rises to nearly 3,000m above sea level at its summit. It is almost 1000m taller than the next tallest mountain in the country. São Filípe is the largest town of the island and is located on the west coast of Fogo. São Filípe is where the airport is located; flights to Fogo are from Praia. The ferry port is a little way outside the town and has ferry connections with Brava and Praia (Santiago). Grapes are grown in the caldera and the wine produced (Chã do Fogo – red and white) is good. Coffee is also grown on Fogo. The island of fire is an island of contrasts, with lovely coastline, green woods and forests, but also with the stark, fascinating landscape within the caldera. Fogo Cape is an island that should be on any island hopping itinerary and is becoming increasingly more popular with tourists looking for something a little out of the ordinary.
The beaches, which are black from the volcanic lava, may not be as stunning as those on the other islands, but the landscape throughout is quite spectacular. Beaches are not necessarily the main reason to visit Fogo.
São Felipe is a lively little town with a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants. Seafood is widely available and can be enjoyed with some Fogo wine. Festivals are enjoyed here, as they are throughout Cape Verde. Carnival is celebrated before the start of Lent. In April there is the Festa Bandeira de São Felípe, which includes a horse race. There is also a horse race held between Christmas and New Year.
Places to visit
A visit to Fogo should include a visit to the volcano caldera (or crater); it is a fascinating experience. The largest feature of the caldera is its size – 7 x 10km and walls as much as 1km high. The landscape within the caldera is how many people might imagine the moon to be. People live within the caldera and there are places to stay and to eat. The traditional round houses can be seen, some having been buried by lava in 2014, but the roofs are visible above the lava. A trek up to the top of Pico do Fogo makes for a highly memorable trip for the more energetic visitor. It takes about 6 hours from the Chã das Caldeiras to complete the climb of 1000m. If you drive through the caldera from the São Felípe side towards Mosteiros, you eventually come to a forest. São Felipe is an attractive town that slopes down towards the sea. It also has lovely views over to the neighbouring island of Brava. Colourful houses and a bustling square help to make this an interesting town to visit. Mosteiros has a small, attractive centre and is located between the mountain and the sea.
Although all the islands are volcanic in origin, Fogo demonstrates this more clearly than the others. Because Pico do Fogo is 3000m high, this island is visible from some distance. The volcano is still active and last erupted 2014, forming a new crater called Pico Pequeno (Little Peak). The eruption has not stopped people living in the caldera and houses have been re-built. The road in the caldera was blocked by the lava flow, but now a new road has been cut through. There are views over to the island of Brava from many places on the island. It is thought that these two islands may once have been joined together.