We set off on our first day from Praia. It's the capital of Cape Verde, and is situated on the southern coast of Santiago, which is the largest of the 10 islands that make up the archipelago. A short drive took us to the beginning of our adventure - and what a start it was. Walking through the lush valley full of flourishing fruits and leafy sugar cane (complete with grogue, the traditional alcoholic drink of Cape Verde, being distilled amongst it), it was evident why the country was named as such - 'verde' translating as 'green'.
As we made our way up, the path revealed itself amongst the rocks and ash along the volcano’s flank...
The first of what would be many tasty lunches was served down by the sea, under the watch of a fortress - which we later visited, learning more about the history of the area, before heading back to the capital for a relaxing evening.
Day two saw us take the quick flight over to the neighbouring island of Fogo, for the most challenging hiking of the trip. Starting from a few hundred metres above sea level our guide Helder led the hike. We gained altitude until we found ourselves surrounded not just by the trees, but also the clouds - giving us amazing views as the sun broke through misty forest.
Onwards and upwards we continued, breaking through the clouds and back into the sun, before getting our first views of the Pico do Fogo volcano, our hiking target for the next day. The lava fields produced by the last eruption in 2014 stretched as far as you could see, and we got a good view of this as we walked on towards a well-needed rest at the amazing Casa Marisa, our hotel for the next couple of nights, which had wonderful views.
The next morning started early as we set off towards the volcano itself, the sun rising from behind it to greet us as we got ever closer and the path got ever steeper. Having looked at it from a distance the day before, the path didn’t seem to exist, but as we made our way up it revealed itself amongst the rocks and ash along the volcano’s flank.
A few hours later we made it to the top of Pico do Fogo - the highest point in Cape Verde. There were stunning views of the crater itself, but also back down into the caldera, with the clouds below us hiding some of the path we had taken just the day before.
The descent was much easier and a lot of fun. We rapidly slid down the ash fields, and it took us a fraction of the time to get back to the caldera. We then went back to the hotel, where Helder changed from mountain guide to sommelier as we sampled a variety of locally-produced wines.
The following day was a relaxing one spent exploring Sao Filipe in the morning, before heading back to Praia for a great meal, some local music - and for some of the group, a bit of dancing with the band. The next morning, with our legs mostly recovered, we set off on a short hike, enjoying the scenery but knowing the day’s highlight was ahead of us… a natural pool where we stopped for a barbecue lunch and then a swim in the clear waters coming in from the Atlantic.
On our final full day in Cape Verde, we had time to squeeze in one final hike along the valley to a dam - seeing yet more local wildlife and enjoying more amazing views along the way.
Then it was off to the beach via a quick boat ride to a secluded cove for another barbecue of tasty fish. Snorkels at the ready, we enjoyed a bit of a swim and saw some of the aquatic life here - including a variety of fish and even some seahorses.
Back on dry land afterwards, and watching the sun go down with a caipirinha in hand on the beach, we reflected on the week we’d had. Experiencing Cape Verde truly from sea to summit, sunrise to sunset, and everything in between - it had been a great experience indeed.
Inspired? Check out our week-long hiking adventure through the stunning trails of Cape Verde.