Hike across the equator
Explore lonely jungle valleys
Sea, beach and tropical forest close together, as here on Guembé Beach in São Tomé. Photo: Thomas Iwainsky
Unlike almost any other country in the world, about 30% of São Tomé e Príncipe is a protected national park. Dozens of endemic species live in the wild valleys, mountains and on the coasts of the “Ôbo”.
Behind the green of the rainforests lie secluded and pristine beaches. After an active day, enjoy Santomo-esque cuisine with organic ingredients, world-class chocolate and excellent coffee.
Bays and Jalé beach in the south of São Tomé Island (Photo: Thomas Iwainsky).
Pure nature, everywhere.
Do you see that? No roads! No village, no town, no people. Total tranquillity. The further you leave the area around the capital in São Tomé, the more intensely you will experience seemingly endless, untouched nature. Hidden valleys, barely recognisable hiking trails, mangrove forests, cloud forests, rivers, waterfalls, overgrown volcanic craters, overgrown plantations, abandoned colonial villages and lonely beaches. In this photo: Jalé Beach, the islet of São Miguel and the southwestern bays of São Tomé Island. For the most part, they can only be reached on foot, because the island’s circular road (in this area only a sandy path anyway) ends here and you can only get to the other end of the road in a two-day hike.
Ideal for Africa beginners, perfect for nature lovers.
The islands of São Tomé e Príncipe are home to only a few smaller mammals, many birds, some lizards, few snakes and insects. More than 20 bird species are endemic, i.e. only found here. The world’s smallest hummingbird and the world’s largest begonia live and grow here. There are no dangerous mammals or even predators and only two extremely rare and shy poisonous snake species. There are no poisonous snakes at all on Príncipe. São Tomé e Príncipe is therefore also perfect for beginners who want to get to know Africa for the first time and possibly take their first jungle tour.
Camussela bird building its nest with a visitor (Photo: Thomas Iwainsky).
Driftwood, flowers, trees, sea, nothing else. Ribeira Izé beach (Photo: Thomas Iwainsky).
Beaches, just for you.
São Tomé e Príncipe is not only an excellent destination for hiking tours, beach lovers will also find what they are looking for. Already in the capital there are several beaches (you can walk to the first one, Praia Lagarto, from the airport). But the further you get from the city and the further you walk through the forests, the lonelier it gets. Some beaches are hardly visited and you can experience them in complete solitude. At others, a fisherman might pass by once in a while or locals have adapted to tourism and sell fresh coconuts.
São Tomé e Príncipe hiking trails GPS dwonload
Here you may download the GPS data of some hiking trails in São Tomé e Príncipe. All files are saved as GPX in compressed ZIP format. Attention! Use at your own risk. Hikes in São Tomé e Príncipe should be undertaken with a trained, local guide – always and without any exception! Addresses and contacts can be obtained from the tourism authority or local travel agencies.
To Lagoa Amélia crater lake
We start at the Botanical Garden Bom Sucesso, through fields into the protected national park, climing higher into the cloud forest. Then down into the grass-covered crater lake Lagoa Amélia. Same way back. Mountainous, about 3 to 4 hours. Difficulty: 4/5
Angolares circle hike
Start behind the Roça São João dos Angolares, deep into overgrown plantations. Passing huge trees and osami wildflowers, you cross streams and reach abandoned Roças. Return steeply downhill and partly wading through the sea. Mountainous, about 6 hours, Difficulty: 4/5
Start at the pier of Rolas Island, go straight south, turn right at the small stone pillars up the side of the mountain. Return the same way. Hilly, about 30 minutes. Difficulty: 1/5
Oque Pipi Príncipe
In the Príncipe National Park. First on a simple former railway track, then on steep serpentines to the Oque Pipi waterfall. Same way back. Partly mountainous, approx. 2 hours, Difficulty: 2/5
Important notes for hikers:
Hiking trails are almost never signposted in São Tomé e Príncipe. There are no safety devices (ropes, bridges or the like). In the rainforest, the ground is often very wet and slippery. Be prepared for these conditions in advance! We recommend ankle-high walking shoes, walking sticks and the usual equipment. Be sure to hike together with a trained local guide.
Little prince on the island of Príncipe. Photo: Thomas Iwainsky