Praia Banana, Principe Island. Photo: GettyImages-1283829842
4.8
| 8 reviews

Journey to the Equator in Sao Tome and Principe

Uncover the ‘African Galapagos’ on a truly off-the-beaten-path adventure in one of the world's least-visited destinations

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with expert, local, English-speaking guides

All accommodation

10 nights in locally-run ecolodges and guesthouses

Meals

All breakfasts, 9 lunches and 6 dinners

Transfers

All airport and ground transfers, plus flights between São Tomé and Principe islands

Permits

All park permits and local taxes

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 14 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

4.8
| 8 reviews
A great trip but not easy
April 2024
Lisa
A great trip but not easy
April 2024
Lisa
A great trip but not easy
April 2024
Lisa
A great trip but not easy
April 2024
Lisa
A great trip but not easy
April 2024
Lisa
A great trip but not easy
April 2024
Lisa
Unique Destination
April 2024
Chris F.
Unique Destination
April 2024
Chris F.
Unique Destination
April 2024
Chris F.
Unique Destination
April 2024
Chris F.
Unique Destination
April 2024
Chris F.
Unique Destination
April 2024
Chris F.
Two very special islands
March 2024
Sarah W.
Two very special islands
March 2024
Sarah W.
Two very special islands
March 2024
Sarah W.
Two very special islands
March 2024
Sarah W.
A proper adventure
February 2024
Steven O.
A proper adventure
February 2024
Steven O.
A proper adventure
February 2024
Steven O.
A proper adventure
February 2024
Steven O.
A proper adventure
February 2024
Steven O.
A proper adventure
February 2024
Steven O.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.
Off the Beaten Path Calm, Lush and full of Flavour
February 2024
David R.

Venture to West Africa's lost archipelago, hiking extinct volcanoes and primordial forest to secluded waterfalls and remote beaches

Trek through a biosphere reserve with greater density of endemic species per square mile than anywhere else on the planet

Head to Rolas Island to stand on the equator, hop between deserted palm-fringed beaches and swim with sea turtles

Dive deep into São Tomé’s colonial heritage, and learn about local sustainability and conservation strategies

Key Information

Day 1

Welcome to 'the African Galapagos'

Aerial view of Sao Tome island. Photo: Shutterstock-1862262352 (free trial)

Catch your first glimpse of this stunningly beautiful African archipelago from the plane, and marvel at the two dots of dense, tropical forest lapped by the ocean below – welcome to São Tomé and Principe! The remoteness of this two-island nation (roughly 260km off the coast of Gabon) has helped preserve its lush, biodiverse wilderness, so it's often referred to as 'Africa's Eden' or 'the African Galapagos’. Only around 30,000 tourists visit each year. Your adventure starts on the main island of São Tomé, which was uninhabited until it was discovered by the Portuguese in the late 15th century. Your host will transfer you from the airport to your hotel, centrally located in the small capital city. Head out with your guide and fellow travellers for dinner, then rest before the adventure really kicks off tomorrow!

Day 2

The journey south

Pico Cao Grande, Sao Tome. Photo: Shutterstock-119358871 (free trial)

Hiking

2.5hrs · 6.5km · 250m up · 250m down

Driving

3hrs

Take a road trip along the coast and head south, getting a glimpse of the island's rich cultural heritage and some natural highlights along the way. Learn about the island's complex colonial past at Roça Agua Izé, the first cocoa plantation of São Tomé. You'll then move on to Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth), a stunning stretch of coastline with rock passages and a natural blowhole. Spot the iconic peak of Cão Grande rising 663m from the rainforest – this enormous hardened column of magma gives São Tomé a real 'lost world' vibe. Reach the remote Praia Jalé, an important sanctuary for marine turtles, then tuck into lunch before hiking along the coast from beach to beach, until you reach your secluded eco-lodge, right on the shore of Inhame Beach. Fall asleep in your wooden hut, lulled by the sound of waves.

Day 3

Hop to Rolas Island and stand on the equator

Sailing to Rolas Island, Sao Tome  - Photo: marta marinelli, staff

Hiking

2.5hrs · 4.5km · 50m up · 50m down

Swimming

2hrs

Another day in tropical paradise awaits. Take a boat around the dreamy islet of Ilheu das Rolas (sea conditions permitting), fringed by deserted beaches, before exploring it on foot, hiking the maze of verdant jungle trails to the sound of exotic birds. Climb up a promontory, where a monument marks the equatorial line which runs through the island, then enjoy some fresh fish at Praia Café beach. Spend a few hours swimming and snorkelling the crystal clear waters – eyed peeled for sea turtles. Tonight, you'll meet with the NGO Programa Tatô and learn about their successful sea turtle conservation project. São Tomé is an important breeding and feeding area for five of the world's seven species of sea turtle, so the chances of witnessing them nesting (Nov to Feb) or the release of baby turtles (Jan to Apr) are pretty high!

Day 4

From mangroves to coffee plantations

Casa Museu Almada Negreiros, Sao Tome. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Hiking

1.5hrs · 4km · 50m up · 50m down

Driving

3hrs

Wake early and journey to the island's virgin interior, through historic coffee plantations and a humid wilderness of jungle-covered mountains. First, stop for a boat tour in Malanza – the largest mangrove reserve in the country and richly biodiverse. Next, visit the museum in Roça Monte Café to learn about the coffee-making process as well as the history of those who were enslaved and brought to the island. Enjoy a superb lunch at Casa Museu Almada Negreiros overlooking the verdant hillside, and stretch your legs with a short afternoon hike through nearby plantations to a waterfall.

Day 5

Trek the virgin rainforests of Obo Natural Park

Lagoa Amelia, Obo National Park, Sao Tome. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Hiking

5hrs · 10km · 620m up · 620m down

Venture deeper into São Tomé hiking through the Obo National Park, known for its richly biodiverse, high-altitude rainforests. Begin with a visit to the Botanical Garden of Bom Sucesso – the gateway to the park, it's home to over 400 species of endemic flora and over a thousand samples of plants, including rare orchids. Continue towards Lagoa Amelia, an extinct volcanic crater surrounded by lush trees and giant begonias. You'll be accompanied by an expert naturalist guide for full immersion in the island's unique ecosystem, looking out for medicinal plants, colourful birds and giant snails. Enjoy magnificent views over the verdant valleys around the Camino Fugido trail and peek over the towering Pico of São Tomé, the highest point in the country.

Day 6

Fly to the 'lost world' of Principe Island

 View of Principe wilderness, Principe island, Sao Tome Photo: Marta Marinelli, staff

Hiking

3.5hrs · 8km · 230m up · 230m down

If you thought São Tomé felt like a lost paradise, wait until you approach tiny Principe. As you fly in on a small propeller plane, the vastness of the ocean highlights how remote this second island really is, and also explains why many species here are endemic. Principe was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2012 and when seen from the sky, the island appears almost totally covered by lush wilderness plunging into the sea, with a magnificent topography of volcanic features. Your base for the next four nights is a local guesthouse in Santo Antonio, the world’s smallest capital! Get a taste of Principe's luxuriant rainforests as you trek to the secluded Oque Pipi, the island’s largest waterfall, and enjoy a refreshing dip in the natural pool. Go for a swim at Abelha Beach, then drive back to Santo Antonio for the night.

Day 7

Hike, swim and beach hop in paradise

Praia Banana, Principe Island. Photo: Shutterstock-1861499416

Hiking

4.5hrs · 10km · 290m up · 340m down

Swimming

2hrs

Today's adventure will take you hiking, swimming or snorkelling along Principe's picture-perfect beaches. Starting from the fascinating Belo Monte museum, hike through the lush forest to a dreamy clifftop viewpoint, before descending to sea level where you'll find the golden sands, boulders and crystal-clear waters of Praia Banana – without doubt one of the most idyllic tropical spots in the world. After a swim or a drink under the shady palm trees, continue on foot to Praia Boi, one of the island's most inaccessible (and often deserted) beaches. The final stop is Praia Grande, the biggest beach in Principe and an important spot for nesting sea turtles. Hop in a van back to head back to your guesthouse, and this evening enjoy local delicacies such as octopus with fried banana, or grilled fresh fish, in one of the family-run restaurants in town.

Day 8

Climb Pico Papagaio and relax in Roça Sundy

Trekker climbing Pico Papagaio, Principe Island. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Hiking

4.5hrs · 9km · 480m up · 480m down

If you are up for a challenge, wake at sunrise and join your local guide for a hike up Papagaio Peak, the iconic volcanic landmark of Principe visible from the capital. Ascend through the steep and muddy forest trails to reach the 680m summit and be rewarded with sweeping panoramas. The trail itself ventures deep into the wildlife-rich Parque Natural do Príncipe – home to oca trees, monkeys, butterflies and colourful wild orchids. Off the trail, stop to see local artisans at work crafting jewellery from glass bottles, then grab lunch at a scenic secret spot. Enjoy a more leisurely afternoon exploring the grounds of Roça Sundy – one of the biggest cocoa plantations on the Isle of Principe – and stand in the exact same spot where astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington proved Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity in 1919.

Day 9

Explore Agulhas Bay

Coastline and palms of Principe Island. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Hiking

3hrs · 7km · 80m up · 250m down

Wrap up your time in Principe with a trek and boat trip along Principe's Bahia das Agulhas (Bay of Needles). Hiking from São Joaquim through dense forest, you'll reach Praia Lapa and Maria Correia, where a secluded waterfall awaits. Baía das Agulhas is a geographical wonder best seen from the water, so next you'll jump on a boat and float along this otherworldly stretch of coastline. Marvel at the prehistoric volcanic towers rising out of the ocean like something out of Jurassic Park as you journey across glittering turquoise waters, stopping for a picnic and some swimming at some of the island's most enchanting beaches. Back in Santo Antonio, head out for a delicious meal with your fellow adventurers and get some rest before you fly back to São Tomé tomorrow.

Day 10

Back to São Tomé

Garden at Mucumbli Lodge, Sao Tome. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Snorkelling

1hr

Take a short flight back to São Tomé, and (flight time permitting) stop for a visit of Roça Agostinho Neto, once the grandest cocoa plantation on the island. Next, head out for an optional swim or snorkel at Lagoa Azul, a savannah area, surrounded by baobabs and tamarind trees. This afternoon, you'll reach your secluded eco-lodge nestled in the lush foliage of the northern tip of the island. Enjoy some well-earned downtime and catch a beautiful sunset with a drink from the restaurant's panoramic terrace. Lay back in your secluded hut and listen to the rainforest come alive with the sounds of insects and nocturnal wildlife as you drift off to sleep.

Day 11

The path to Angolar waterfall

Angolares Waterfall, Sao Tome. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Hiking

3hrs · 8.5km · 120m up · 120m down

International flights usually leave São Tomé in the evening, so this morning you'll have the chance to enjoy one final hike into the Rio Contador valley. Navigate a series of eerie tunnels excavated into the mountain during the colonial era which are now home to hundreds of bats, and reach the majestic Angolar Waterfall, hidden away in a cliff which forms a natural amphitheatre. Back at the lodge, you'll have some time to freshen up and grab lunch before transferring to the airport for your flight back home. Stop en route in Sao Tome for some free time before your flight to walk around the old town and do some last minute gift shopping or there is an (optional*) visit to a famous chocolate producer for some sublime tasting – the sweetest way to finish your epic tropical adventure!

*The tasting visit to the world renowned Claudio Corallo Cacao & Caffe is an optional experience that needs to be pre-booked with your host and requires a minimum of 4 people. See Optional Extras for pricing.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Beach Hut · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4 – Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 9

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Rainforest Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 11

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Food in  sao tome - Photo: marta, staff

São Tomean cuisine comprises a variety of delicious fresh local fish, and tropical fruits such as plantains, mango, jackfruit and coconut as well as corn/maize. A standard meal for lunch and dinner will often feature fish or chicken with rice, fried banana, or maybe jackfruit. With such a remarkable local abundance, the islands are truly a paradise for seafood lovers and you'll taste some of the best octopus (polvo), red grouper (cherne) and sea bass (corvina) of your life, which usually come grilled (grelhado) or baked (asado). Other popular dishes include feijoada, a wholesome bean stew made with either pork or fish and often served with riz creole (seasoned rice); chicken marinated with a mix of flavoursome spices and garlic, and spicy piri-piri sauce; and calulu, a flavourful stew made with dried smoked fish and a delectable sauce of fresh oca leaves, palm oil, okra, watercress, malagueta chilli, and an assortment of fresh local herbs.

Refreshing lagers are imported from Portugal, but there is also a national beer brewed in the north of São Tomé, known either as Rosema or Nacional, which comes in big pint-sized bottles with no label.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for, but please note that the variety and choice of meals can be very limited. Please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Residencial Avenida saotome. Photo: hotel's facebook page
São Tomé

Spend your first night at the central Hotel Avenida in São Tomé. Accommodation is in twin-share rooms equipped with an en suite bathroom, a TV, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The property also includes a garden and a small pool.

Photo: shutterstock ref 2267299823
Praia Inhame

Two nights will be spent at the secluded Praia Inhame Ecolodge, a beachfront property nestled in lush vegetation with an onsite local restaurant featuring sea-view dining. Accommodation will be in simple but cosy wooden bungalows, each equipped with a private bathroom and a small balcony. Free Wi-Fi is available at the property's restaurant and bar.

Photo: staff, Marta
Monte Café

You'll spend two nights at Roça Saudade Guesthouse, nestled in the lush mountains of Trinidade and just a short hike away from San Nicolau waterfall, at the edge of Obó Natural Park. You'll stay in twin-share rooms, and some include a balcony and/or a patio with a garden view. The guesthouse is adjacent to a renowned local restaurant, Casa Museu Almada Negreiros – famous for its excellent tasting menus and stunning views over a verdant hillside canopy. Occasionally, depending on the size of the group, you may be accommodated at alternative lodgings of a similar standard in Roça Milagrosa.

Residencial Palhota in Santo Antonio, Pricipe
Principe Island

While on Principe, you will spend four nights in a locally owned, family-run guesthouse or B&B in Santo Antonio – the island's capital. This will usually be the Pensão Residencial Palhota. (Occasionally, subject to availability, the group may be split between two different properties nearby.) Accommodation will be in simple twin-share rooms with en suite bathrooms. Please be aware that the island is far less developed than Sao Tomé, so don't expect luxury. However, this is a real opportunity to support the local community and practice truly sustainable tourism.

Mucumbli Lodge sao tome. Photo: Marta, staff
Ponta Figo

Spend your final night in São Tomé at Mucumbli, in a real slice of paradise – the perfect place to relax and truly connect with nature before your adventure ends. You'll stay in twin-share chalets among lush, colourful gardens, some of which have a sea view. The restaurant offers a panoramic deck with loungers and a well-stocked bar, serving delicious meals made with local ingredients.

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).

This trip has been rated as Easy

Anyone with average fitness levels can enjoy this trip. All you'll need is to be able to handle a few hours of activity every day – a mixture of between hiking, snorkelling and swimming. It's worth noting that whilst the trekking distances and elevations do not seem challenging in isolation, the hot, humid climate can add to the intensity of the activities. Some of the trails can quickly become overgrown and it is possible to encounter wet mud underfoot in some sections of the jungle.

The climb up Papagaio Peak involves a strenuous, steep ascent, occasionally with the use of ropes to tackle the muddy, overgrown terrain. You should be comfortable with your fitness level if you wish to join this hike – otherwise, you can always join the group later and enjoy a lie-in while you wait for the others to return from the trek.

Please note that any snorkelling is optional (using your own gear) and not guided, so you must be able to swim and be comfortable in the water if you decided to pursue this activity.

What will I need to carry?

You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daysack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

The climate of São Tomé and Príncipe is tropical, with a long rainy season lasting nine months, from September through May, interrupted by a short dry period called Gravanito, which occurs during the months of December to February, when the trip is scheduled to run. A three-month dry season called Gravana then lasts from June through to August. The climate is hot and humid throughout the year, with average temperatures around 30°C (86°F) from January to April and slightly lower from June to August. Both islands are covered with impenetrable forest, so it's not unusual to have some mist and cloudy skies.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

São Tomé International Airport (TMS)

Any time on Day 1

Ends

São Tomé International Airport (TMS)

18:00 on Day 11

Transfers

On Day 1 your host will meet you at the airport and drive you to your central accommodation in the historic centre of São Tomé. At the end of the trip, there will be one group transfer to the international airport, which is usually scheduled in the late afternoon/early evening.

Arrival and departure transfers are only included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 11. If you would like a private transfer outside of these times, this can be arranged with your host for an extra cost – please see Optional Extras for the price.

Travel options

TAP Air Portugal is the main carrier to use when getting to São Tomé. There are regular direct flights throughout the year from and to Lisbon – although these do not operate daily, the itinerary has been scheduled to ensure these are available on Day 1 and Day 11 of the trip.

Depending on the time of year, and your original point of departure, you may not have sufficient time to make the connection with the morning flight from Lisbon to Sao Tome. Please check the connection times on the TAP website before booking your flights. To be extra safe, we encourage you to consider departing a day earlier and stopping overnight in Lisbon, so you have ample time to make your LIS-TMS flight on Day 1. On some dates the flight from Lisbon to Sao Tome will go via Accra, Ghana, with a short stopover of 1 hour to drop off/pick up passengers but not requiring a change of aircraft.

The return journey usually involves an overnight flight direct to Lisbon, landing in the early morning of the following day (Day 12), which allows for easy onward connections back home.

If you are planning to add on any extra days in Lisbon prior to or after the trip, it may be cheaper to consider booking your tickets with different airlines – TAP for your flights to and from São Tomé, and a low-cost carrier for your journey to and from Lisbon. If you decide to book your journey with different airlines, please ensure you plan ample time or extra days for the connection, to avoid your international journey being disrupted.

Internal flights between the islands of São Tomé and Principe are included in the cost of the trip and booked by your local host. These are usually operated by the reliable local carrier, STP Airways.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack (please note: the maximum baggage allowance on the domestic flight is 15kg per person)
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag/rucksack, or drybags

CLOTHES

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • Long trekking trousers and long-sleeved shirts for jungle treks
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Sleepwear
  • Hiking boots or shoes (worn-in) - the trails can be very muddy so bring shoes with good grip for the hikes
  • Sandals
  • Flip-flops

OTHER

  • Snorkelling gear (not available to hire locally)
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment and antimalarial tablets)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x2 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
  • Water purification tablets/treatment system
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Corallo Chocolatery Tasting Visit on Day 11 - 4 People Minimum

Payable Before Departure

Corallo Chocolatery Tasting Visit on Day 11 - 4 People Minimum

Per Person

Additional Night in São Tomé Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in São Tomé Single Room

Additional Night in São Tomé Twin/Double Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in São Tomé Twin/Double Room

Additional Night at Mucumbli, Ponta Figo - Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night at Mucumbli, Ponta Figo - Single Room

Additional Night at Mucumbli, Ponta Figo - Twin/Double Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night at Mucumbli, Ponta Figo - Twin/Double Room

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Private airport transfer Sao Tomé (one way)

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer Sao Tomé (one way)

Lisa(April 2024)
A great trip but not easy
A great trip but not easy
A great trip but not easy
A great trip but not easy
A great trip but not easy
A great trip but not easy
A great trip but not easy

I checked before booking that it would be okay on an old knee injury (ACL & meniscus repair 5 years ago) and was assured it was easy. Unfortunately, the meniscus was torn again, and I’m waiting for a surgical review.

Despite its current rating, don’t book thinking this is a walk in the park. It’s extremely hot and humid, there’s scrambling as well as walking and it can be muddy, steep, slippery and precarious with sheer drop offs. There were lots of falls by many in the group. It’s harder when it rains, to the point a couple of people didn’t do any more walks after it did and stuck to the beach.

Expect creepy crawlies, snakes, power and water cuts (especially on Principe) and to be hot and sweaty most of the time.

Having said that, the islands are lovely. Sipson was great and did his best to accommodate everyone’s needs, the people are super friendly, the views stunning and the beaches divine. The itinerary is packed but you can opt out of what you want to.

Gave a 4 as there were a couple of organisational issues with rooms and things closed when we turned up, and sometimes it was hard to get information with just one guide and a large group. Other than that, it was an enjoyable trip and a real adventure.

Tips: not many places take credit cards, and then only Visa, so take enough cash.

Sealable plastic bags are useful when it rains.

Needs mozzie spray in the day for the rainforest.

Glasses are impossible in the rain, heat and humidity - you just steam up. Wear contacts on the walks if you have that option.

You need ear plugs when staying in town, it gets noisy at night.

We often didn’t eat until 3pm so take snacks.

Swim at your own risk.

Don’t forget malaria tablets and vaccinations.

Any knee issues, you may want to give this one a miss.

Chris F.(April 2024)
Unique Destination
Unique Destination
Unique Destination
Unique Destination
Unique Destination
Unique Destination
Unique Destination

I’m amazed that a place like this can still exist, on such an overpopulated and experience hungry planet. I had imagined that emerging onto a pristine empty beach with golden sand and turquoise sea after a short hike through virgin jungle would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, this happened on most days, and sometimes several times a day. At lunch stops, the local guides would climb a tree and get everyone a fresh coconut. We saw baby turtles dashing to the surf, endemic kingfishers in the mangroves and sunbirds in the forest.

The decaying colonial heritage, being reclaimed in equal measure by the local people and the jungle itself, is fascinating to experience. Sao Tomeans are incredibly friendly and we always felt welcome, un-hassled and safe. The small children just want to hold your hand as you explore. There is real poverty here, but hopefully an increase in sustainable tourism can address this without detracting from the unique character and charm of the islands.

Roads outside the main towns are atrocious, but the spectacular viewpoints and waterfall bathing pools that they make accessible mean all the bumps and judders are worthwhile. The varied accommodation was generally good and had beach access, jungle views, swimming pools, air conditioning and comfy beds (but just not all at once).

You will get soaking wet, you will get very muddy, you may (like us) get briefly lost in the jungle; you won’t care. Take good boots, lots of bug spray and a reasonable level of physical fitness.

Sipson was an excellent tour leader, but he also said that we were the nicest group he'd hosted so far, so we'll call that evens.

A most highly recommended adventure.

Sarah W.(March 2024)
Two very special islands
Two very special islands
Two very special islands
Two very special islands
Two very special islands

A very special adventure! You get to experience a range of what the islands have to offer through various accommodations - beaches, rainforest, eco-lodge, city/town. At the end, I felt I'd really explored both islands quite thoroughly, in a way I never could have done on my own.

I really felt that human development had hardly made a mark on the immense natural environment across both islands, and particularly in Principe. Some of the views are truly stunning, especially of the various bays and beaches across both islands. I loved the laid-back vibe everywhere, and always felt very safe and welcome.

The dynamic in our group of 10 was ideal and our guide, Sipson, added to it too. He was great - always positive, fun and always seeming relaxed. I always had the confidence he had everything under control. He was flexible with adapting plans and welcomed feedback.

My highlights were:

-The whole time in Principe, and particularly the beach hopping. It felt like such a relaxed place, with fewer people and even more untouched nature and wildlife to explore, and beaches that felt somehow even more beautiful than those on Sao Tome. -The lunch at Casa Museu Almada Negreiros, partly because of the food and the cosy layout and partly because the rainforest views were incredible. It was raining very heavily while we were there and it felt very cosy and special. -Hiking Pico de Sao Tome - the Lagoa Amelia was an unusual natural phenomenon to experience and I found it very peaceful and special to hike (for part of it) close to the local guide we had for that hike. I also enjoyed hiking Pico Papagaio as I found the scrambling fun and challenging in a good way.

The accommodation everywhere was clean but mostly not luxurious, though there some stand-out places. Make sure you bring earplugs, as there is almost always a lot of background noise. Do generally expect one or two things not to work here and there, the odd power cut (more frequent in Principe), and for there not to be 24 hours of electricity in Principe. I was able to fully charge my phone and get wifi at every accommodation each day/night. You can get your laundry done at the guesthouse in Principe for a small fee. We all loved the accommodation for the final night, and the Inhame beach eco-lodge on nights 2 and 3. The accommodation for nights 4 and 5 has a lovely garden and rainforest views.

The activity level was ideal for me, as a fit and active person. We all agreed though that the activity level should be moved to moderate. There is a lot of hiking throughout and it's certainly challenging, with intense humidity, scrambling at times, and plenty of elevation and inclines.

The food was great. I really enjoyed all the perfectly cooked fish, crispy plantain, chilli sauce, tropical fruit... etc and I always had enough to eat even with the relatively high activity level and being someone who needs to eat a lot generally. The lunch at Casa Museu Almada Negreiros especially, and also at the restaurant we went to for lunch on day 10, was delicious and felt like a special treat. However, many of us felt that on a few of the days in Principe, the sandwich and fruit for lunch was not enough to fill us up. Also, there was no alternative to the sandwich for the celiac person in our group. I believe that the plan is rectify both of these things going forwards.

If you have appropriate expectations and this trip appeals to you, I'm sure you'll have an amazing experience like all of us did!

William B.(February 2024)
An African Gem

A stunning country to visit, it sometimes feels like you have the whole island to yourself. A great tour with plenty of hikes and beaches led by a great chap, in our case, Sipson who was great company throughout and kept everything running smoothly. Highly recommended, especially if you enjoy visiting Africa.

Steven O.(February 2024)