Sao Tome tour
Description of Sao Tome tour
The island nation of São Tomé and Principe is a little-explored African jewel - a tropical paradise awash with atmospheric colonial reminders and fascinating nature, girdled by an unspoilt coastline of wild beaches hemmed by rainforest.
This compact tour offers an excellent introduction, starting in the capital Sao Tome with its unique Portuguese-Creole flavour. From here we head into the interior, hiking to the pretty Lagoa Amelia and then driving south to São João with its gorgeous black sand beaches, most famously the wild beaches of Porto Alegre.
You'll also get a chance to explore intriguing coastal fishing villages such as São João dos Angolares and Ribeira Afonse, as well as see unusual colonial sites like the historic hospital at Agua Eize and visit a cacao co-operative to see how the local chocolate is made. You'll also get a chance to watch for turtles laying eggs at night on moonlit sands, where the only sound is the whisper of unseen waves.
Heading out onto the ocean, we visit tiny Rolas Island where you can stand astride the Equator line, before continuing by boat up the west coast to Mucumbli, our base for exploring Obo National Park, where unusual endemic flora and intriguing birdlife flourishes amid a scattering of waterfalls and old plantation houses.
Staying in charming lodges and converted plantation houses we have excellent opportunities to meet local people too, and experience the best of the incredible biodiversity and unusual history in this novel corner of Africa.
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PlanetSao Tome is a unique environment, a volcanic island off the coast of central Africa with an impressive array of endemic species. We spend a significant proportion of the trip exploring the countryside and wilder areas of the island, including Obo National Park. When exploring these areas on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.
Sao Tome is in the nascent stages of tourism development and we recognise that we have an important responsibility to lead by example and set the right tone when operating trips here.
We include a visit to Praia Inhame, where a community based project has been established to help protect the turtles which come on shore to nest. The presence of tourism brings income to this community and reinforces the idea that the turtles and their habitat are worth protecting.
PeopleOn all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we include a number of stays in smaller communities that are outside the mainstream tourist industry - not that much of a mainstream industry exists here. Our stay at places like Mucumbli and Praia Inhame not only benefits the wildlife but helps to ensure that local people outside of the capital benefit from visitors.
Elsewhere we stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’. In Sao Joao dos Angolares we stay in a converted 'roca' - an old plantation house - which provides important employment opportunities for local people in a remote part of the island, and we encourage our groups to take part in activities guided by the residents of this small community. The fact that tourists visit here provides an important incentive to maintain the delicate heritage of this part of Sao Tome.
When visiting the smaller communities, we encourage our travellers to spend money locally and perhaps purchase some of the fine handicrafts on sale here.
We visit a number of sites on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the countries we travel through.
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