Santo Antão Cape Verde (Portuguese for Saint Anthony) is the most westerly of the Cape Verde islands. It has precipitous peaks, jaw-dropping ravines and tiny villages clinging to its mountainsides. The tallest mountain is Tope de Coroa, reaching a height of 1,979 m. The northeast trade winds funnel up into the mountains creating a micro-climate rich in vegetation. The landscape changes from brown and arid to mountainous with green fertile valleys. The views from the mountains are breathtaking and tiny villages appear deep below. The island offers excellent hiking and walking opportunities. Cova, which is the caldera, or crater, is often seen with cloud swirling over the ridges. It is worth visiting looking down into crater you can see the crops being grown within it.
Visitors should ensure that they visit the Vale do Paúl. This is a spectacularly lush valley that opens into the sea at the village of Vila das Pombas. The valley is full of banana, mango and papaya trees together with flame trees, poinsettias and vegetable plots. At the head of the Paúl valley the winds are funnelled up and through the vertically towering rock peaks into the volcano, creating an almost permanent display of swirling mists and cloud.
The capital of the island is Ribeira Grande. There are three other main cities on the island – Porto Novo in the drier, south east part of the island; Paúl, which is south east of the capital; and Ponta do Sol, north west from the capital and possibly the most attractive of the towns.
Santo Antão exhibits some of the most impressive scenery that you will find anywhere in the world and it is still relatively untouched. A must for visitors to this beautiful island is a visit to the picturesque cliff-hugging village of Fontainhas, 2km southwest from Ponta do Sol. This tiny village is perched on a precipitous rock above a deep ribeira (riverside). Behind the houses that line the street of this unique village is sheer drop of several hundred metres.
The north-west of the island has the most important marine biodiversity in the whole of the Cape Verde archipelago. It also has good fishing, providing fish to the 50,000 inhabitants of Santo Antão; and in Cruzinha da Garça there is a programme of conservation for five endangered species of turtle. The seas around the island are also home to whales and dolphins, also endangered species.
Santo Antão Cape Verde is really quite beautiful…