Adventures / Wild Hikes

Adventure Hiking in Cape Verde

Hit the stunning trails of Santiago and Fogo Island and soak up the archipelago's inimitable African-Portuguese culture on the way

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Trip Ref #10428

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Adventure Hiking in Cape Verde

Hit the stunning trails of Santiago and Fogo Island and soak up the archipelago's inimitable African-Portuguese culture on the way

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

Cape Verde

ANNUAL LEAVE

6 days off work

SEASON

Year round

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Praia Nelson Mandela International Airport (RAI)

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Guesthouse

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

Most of the hikes are manageable by anyone with decent fitness, but days three & four are big ones to reach Cape Verde's highest point

Trek ash-covered slopes to the top of Pico do Fogo (2829m) an active stratovolcano and the highest point in the Cape Verde Islands

Hike the lush Calabaceira Valley and Serra Malagueta Natural Park, and wild swim in crystal clear pools sculpted by lava

Snorkel and swim in the waters around Tarrafal, tuck into beach barbecues and sample the islands rich music and food scenes to a wild Atlantic Ocean backdrop

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Teresa, May 2022

    The guide team was so warm, fun, and knowledgeable - they went above and beyond to ensure that we had a great trip. We had 4 guides over the course of the itinerary, so that we could get as local an experience as possible in each place. The bungalows and hikes in Fogo were one-of-a-kind - truly a unique trip!

    Chris, March 2022

    An amazing experience in a wonderful country, with great food, great scenery, and after some steep and tricky climbing- even better views. Fogo most certainly the highlight of the trip!

    Sushmita, March 2022

    Hiking in Cape Verde was a great experience. What a lovely country to explore! The scenery and mountains were beyond my expectation- you must visit to experience it. Great food, great locals, great hikes, untouched tranquil valleys and beaches. You must sign up if you like great hikes with local flavours.

    Melissa, February 2022

    This trip exceeded all of my expectations. The scenery is beautiful and it was a real privilege to tour around with local people who taught us so much about the environment, culture and history. Fogo is such a unique experience, and amazing to stay in the caldera with a view of the volcano out of our bedroom window. The hikes on Fogo were hard, the views and sense of achievement 100% worth it. Tarrafal at the end and the much easier hikes are the perfect way to unwind. Special thanks to Elder, Ailtom and Admilson for looking after us so well. Hope to be back soon to discover the other islands!

    Chloe, February 2022

    If you love hiking and want to experience the unique culture of Cape Verde then you will LOVE this trip. I had such a good time and learned so much, I definitely want to return and explore the other islands. Fogo is unlike anywhere I've ever seen before, and Santiago is like a paradise. Our guides Ailtom, Elder and Djeisson (and co-ordinator Admilson) were fantastic, so welcoming and such cool guys. A perfect introduction to this awesome country!

    Lisa, December 2021

    I booked this holiday as it was over xmas and new year and I needed a break from London. The tour was amazing, Cape Verde is incredible and the hiking was great. Especially climbing the Volcano in Fogo, i will never forget it! The local guides were also amazing and really looked after us.

    Suzy, December 2021

    Amazing trip full of colours, wonders and warmth! A wonderful selection of activities with walks through diverse terrain & vegetation, swims in beautiful spots, delicious beach barbies, wine-tasting, historic sites, local villages, and for me the pinnacle was the time spent on beautiful Fogo island climbing the volcano over 2 days and spending 2 magical nights at Casa Mariza in the caldeira! Excellent local organisation and friendly people - thank you for a fantastic trip that we can't stop talking about!

    Hannah, December 2021

    Lovely trip, don’t underestimate the walks on Fogo - some steep bits! Walks on other days not overly strenuous. Lovely friendly and approachable guides, great views, vibes and food! I would recommend and will be back to visit the other Islands.

    Emma, December 2021

    Fantastic, exciting and incredibly varied experience. The local partner company (Bu Country Tours) are exceptionally friendly, passionate, dedicated and well organised and all the guides were knowledgeable, skilled and personable. We were given a real insight into the huge variety of landscapes, terrains and fauna of two islands as well as Cape Verde's history and culture. Staying at the base of Pico do Fogo volcano in an eco lodge was a unique highlight. The lunches and dinners were excellent throughout the trip (especially the BBQ by Piscina Natural de Cuba) with great vegan options and more dinners included than expected. I definitely couldn't have had anything like this experience if I'd organised a holiday myself, so thank you! Two of the hiking days are pretty challening, especially in the heat, but it's worth it for the volcanic hiking experience and the views - just be sure to bring some trekking poles for the steep descents. The guides were also flexible if anyone wanted to skip a hike, which I appreciated - I opted out of one of the Fogo hikes and was taken on a scenic drive around the island instead. Overall, I really enjoyed the balance between hiking and swimming/relaxing/cultural tours.

    Rachel, December 2021

    This trip exceeded expectations- a beautiful country with wonderful friendly people. Take time to explore and you won’t be disappointed.

    Included

    Guides

    Expert, local English speaking guides

    Accommodation

    7 nights in local hotels and guesthouses

    Meals

    7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 1 dinner

    Transfers

    All airport and ground transfers and flights between Santiago and Pico Island

    Not Included

    Flights to and from the meeting point

    Travel insurance

    Personal expenses

    Tips for your guides

    Some meals as described

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    Praia Nelson Mandela International Airport (RAI)

    Anytime on Day 1

    Ends

    Praia Nelson Mandela International Airport (RAI)

    Anytime on Day 8

    Transfers

    Your host will meet you on arrival at Nelson Mandela International Airport to transfer you on the short drive to your accommodation in Praia. On Day 8 you'll be dropped back at the airport in time for your onward flight home.

    Travel options

    Tap Air Portugal is the carrier to use when getting to Santiago Island in Cape Verde. The shortest flight combinations from the UK connect to the evening departure from Lisbon, arriving either side of midnight at Nelson Mandela International Airport depending on your dates. There is also a morning departure from Lisbon, arriving late morning at Santiago Island which may suit travellers transiting in Lisbon from other parts of Europe and North America.

    Please note: Check-in is from 2 pm so if arriving earlier than this in the middle of the night, you will want to include an extra night of accommodation.

    Day 1

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 3 – Day 4

    Guesthouse · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 5

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 6 – Day 7

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 8

    Departure day

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    Breakfasts are continental style with cereals, bread, jam, meats and cheeses, tea and coffee. Picnic lunches will be sandwiches with local fruits, while barbecue lunches will be a real highlight, tucking into local fish and barbecued vegetables. You'll have dinner at a popular restaurant specialising in the Cape Verdean dish Katxupa, a slow-cooked stew of corn, beans, cassava, sweet potato and fish or meat. You'll also have two dinner at the beautiful base Casa Marisa beneath Pico do Fogo. Some dinners have been left out of the itinerary, allowing you to explore Praia and Tarrafal’s selection of bars and restaurants and soak up Cape Verdean nightlife.

    Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Fogo Island

    On Fogo Island you'll stay at Casa Marisa in a phenomenal setting right beneath the active volcano of Pico do Fogo at an altitude of 1700m. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite facilities, either in the house itself or in one of the Funkus - a traditional circular African hut.

    Santiago Island

    In Santiago Island's capital city of Praia, you'll stay at the Hotel Santa Maria, a local boutique hotel in a great location in the historic central part of town, close to the best restaurants for your dinnertime meanderings. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with an en-suite bathroom.

    Tarrafal

    Your final two nights will be spent in the charming fishing village and tranquil bay of Tarrafal. You'll stay in twin-share rooms either at Hotel Vista Mar or at Tarrafel Residence.

    Upgrades

    For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

    Day 1

    Welcome to Cape Verde Islands

    Touch down at Nelson Mandela International Airport, meet your host at the airport and be whisked away to Praia - the main town on the island of Santiago. If you arrived on one of the early flights, you'll have some downtime to explore Praia at your own pace, otherwise, for arrivals on the late flight, you can head straight to bed ready for your first proper glimpse of Cape Verde in the morning.

    Day 2

    Hike the Calabaceira Valley

    Hiking

    2-3hrs · 4.5km · 300m up · 300m down

    Fuel up on breakfast at the hotel then hop in the van for a drive over to the verdant volcanic valley of Calabaceira. You’ll follow a steady trail through the valley stopping to taste the mango, guava, cashew, tamarind and sugar cane that grow here. Cross a trail used by Charles Darwin during his passage through the island, passing giant baobab trees en route to Cidade Velha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you'll grab a late lunch right on the seafront. Head back to Praia with a stop off at the ruins of the Sé Catedral.

    Day 3

    Fogo Island

    Hiking

    5-6hrs · 12km · 1200m up · 0m down

    After breakfast, you'll take a short 35-minute flight to Fogo Island. On landing, head straight over to Mosteiros and hit the trail, hiking through banana, orange and coffee plantations on lava rock terraces. Tuck into a picnic lunch taking in the lava-covered Mosteiros region before hiking further on to Chã das Caldeiras National Park, with views of Pico do Fogo volcano, Cape Verde's highest point which you’ll be summiting tomorrow. Dinner at the casa before the big hike starts in the morning.

    Day 4

    Summit Cape Verde's highest point

    Hiking

    5-7hrs · 9km · 1087m up · 1087m down

    The big one. Tuck into breakfast and the famous local organic coffee and hike from the casa to the foot of Pico do Fogo. Three hours of steady ascent sees you at the summit, with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and neighbouring islands Brava, Santiago and Maio. Hike on above the clouds before starting your descent along ash-covered slopes. Toast your epic summit day back at the casa with local wines and a traditional Cape Verdean dinner.

    Day 5

    Back to Santiago Island

    Enjoy a relaxed breakfast ready for the short hop back to Santiago Island. On the way back to Praia, you’ll stop at a local restaurant overlooking the ocean before heading back to your accommodation. Take the afternoon off today to enjoy Praia at your own pace or take an optional trip to a nearby village to learn Cape Verdean cooking with a local family. In the evening, head to one of Santiago Islands most popular restaurants to experience the national dish, Katxupa, washed down with local beer, wine and a live local band.

    Day 6

    Hike to Longueira and wild swim in natural pools

    Hiking

    2-3hrs · 4.5km · 100m up · 500m down

    Wild Swimming

    1hr

    Start today’s hike from the village of Rui Vaz, rambling past mango, cassava and banana trees with views over the verdant São Jorge Valley and Pico d’Antónia, the highest point on Santiago. Reaching the village of Longueira pop into a local rum distillery, enjoy a cheeky sample before enjoying an hour's drive inland until you reach one of the absolute highlights of the adventure - Cuba Pool. This is a wild natural pool sculpted by lava from previous eruptions of Ribeira das Pratas. Grab a swim in the clear waters while your host prepares a barbecue with fresh locally caught fish.

    Day 7

    Serra Malagueta Natural Park and Tarrafal beach barbecue

    Hiking

    4-5hrs · 11km · 200m up · 700m down

    Snorkeling

    1hr

    One final hike this morning in Serra Malagueta Natural Park, in an area packed with endemic plants, birds, monkeys, reptiles and butterflies in a spectacular verdant valley. Picnic in the forest and continue on to the foot of the valley before heading to Tarrafal for some beach time. Swim, snorkel and tuck into a fresh beach barbecue before a few drinks on your final evening of the adventure.

    Day 8

    So long, Cape Verde

    Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast as your host transfers you back to Nelson Mandela International Airport in time for your return flight home.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    What's included?

    • Snorkel

    What do I need to bring?

    BAGS

    • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
    • Daypack (25+ litres)
    • Waterproof liner for daypack

    CLOTHES

    • Lightweight waterproof jacket
    • Buff or neckscarf
    • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
    • T-shirts
    • Underwear & socks
    • Swimwear
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunhat
    • Something to sleep in
    • Hiking boots (worn-in)
    • Sandals

    OTHER _ Hiking poles (highly recommended for the volcano summit)

    • Universal travel plug adapter
    • Power bank or solar charger
    • Passports (and visas)
    • Travel Insurance documents
    • Ear plugs
    • Insect repellant
    • Suncream
    • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
    • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
    • Quick-dry towel
    • Alcohol hand-gel
    • Reusable water bottle (x1 litre)
    • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
    • Water purification tablets/treatment system (this is optional as purified water is available throughout)

    Double/twin room

    Payable Before Departure

    Double/twin room

    Per Night

    Single room

    Payable Before Departure

    Single room

    Per Night

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 122kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    This is a moderate hiking adventure with some relatively easy days, but also a couple of big all-day hikes with some sizeable elevation to get through in hot conditions on Fogo island. Days 3 and 4 are the biggest days of the trip, these hikes are achievable by anyone with decent fitness levels and easier alternative hikes are available if you don’t feel up to the summit on day 4. We highly recommend you bring hiking poles with you to assist with the elevation and volcanic terrain that you'll be encountering on Fogo Island. You can buy poles in Praia but they are not cheap! Around 80euros, so you'll be highly advised to bring your own.

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    Yes, there is a ferry service operating between Santiago and Fogo Island, however Cape Verde is renowned for some rather choppy seas, and the ferry schedules are regularly disrupted for days on end due to adverse sea conditions. To avoid groups getting stuck on Fogo Island, we were forced into using a short domestic flight for this part of the trip. The flight is reflected in the figure stated under How Much Carbon is Used on this Trip and Much Better Adventures mitigate 2x the carbon emitted on each of our adventures. You can read more about our approach to this here

    Yes, a tourist tax of €2 per person per night is to be paid locally at each hotel.

    Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however, we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

    $3-5 USD per day

    Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    Tap water is best avoided in Cape Verde as it is possible it will upset your stomach. Bottled water is widely available and you'll need to buy your own on this trip - your host will take you to shops at various points on the trip to ensure you can buy water for the upcoming days. If you wish to cut down on the single-use plastic involved in buying safe drinking water in Cape Verde, we recommend you bring your own water filter to allow you to filter the tap water to take out on your hikes. Have a read of our guide to 7 of the best water filters for adventurers

    Cape Verde benefits from average annual temperatures between 24°C/75°F and 30°C/86°F with long spells of uninterrupted sunshine and low humidity levels, making this a true year-round destination and a definite winter sun option. The islands tend to have higher winds between November and March.

    Yes, you can leave your luggage at your hotel base in Praia for the duration of the trip. You can take a smaller pack with you on the flight to Fogo Island with enough supplies for a couple of days if you prefer to travel lighter on that part of the trip.

    We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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