São Tomé and Príncipe
This small, undiscovered paradise, located in the Atlantic Ocean near Gabon, has been a Portuguese colony for centuries. The islands remained uninhabited before the Portuguese arrived with their ships fully loaded with slaves from the African continent. The old plantation houses, canals, religion and colourful buildings are a few remains of their stay. Many plantations were led by Portuguese colonialists. They harvested lots of cocoa and coffee. During the nineteenth century it was a leading cocoa producing country. Since 1991 the country has been governed democratically and it still is a stable democracy.
The island of São Tomé is the larger of the two, and combines relatively well-developed infrastructure with rich natural wonders and a magnificent cultural heritage, while on the island of Príncipe, it is very easy to feel like the first explorer ever to have set foot on the island. On São Tomé you can visit the old city centre, the lively market and discover its dramatic landscapes of torrents and waterfalls and golden coloured sand beaches. On Príncipe you will tick endemic birds and plants of your list. Since scientists have discovered new species, it is quite possible you will spot some exotic, not really known organisms. The golden beaches and bright blue sea give you an opportunity to snorkel, catch fish, dive or relax. The island is also famous for its flying fish and blue marlin, which is the national symbol. There are great opportunities to catch a immense Wahoo or Sailfish too. You can also explore the magnificent cocoa plantations, hike through the rainforests or to the top of the famous volcano Pico Papagaio. During the hike it is very well possible to observe some parrots and primates. When you are in the bush the pure and wild sounds overwhelm you. The people are very hospital and friendly, so sharing a beer with them is really enjoyable. You can taste their homemade alcoholic drink, cacharamba, too.
Each season offers it’s own highlights. It is a great adventure to fish between May and October, because you can target the Blue Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna and Dorado, while the impressive humpback whales are swimming alongside the archipelago. São Tomé and Príncipe are home to several turtle species, like the Green turtle, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback, of which two are critically endangered at this moment and we are motivated to increase the numbers, so they will survive. Organised trips, from September till March, offer you an opportunity to watch these turtles laying their eggs or to observe some little turtles crawling to the ocean, setting their first steps in a long journey that only ends when they return years later to continue the life cycle on exactly the same beach.
Africa’s Eden is a company that organises trips all year round on these islands with great variety. They offer you an all-inclusive journey with their own luxurious accommodation on both islands. You can drive their quad bikes or cars to discover the island. This company works according the concept tourism pays for conservation, meaning profits generated by Africa’s Eden are reinvested in the area to ensure continued and economically sustainable protection. I am working for this company at this moment and will go to São Tomé and Príncipe very soon. During my stay I will report my activities on www.bushdrums.com. You already can visit our site to read our development plan for Príncipe (www.Africas-Eden.com). An article about this wonderful archipelago is recently published in a so-called magazine ‘Geographical’ (October 2010, www.geographical.co.uk)
Further updates about this project as well as room for questions and discussions are found in our Bush-Talk Forum by following this link: Introduction to São Tomé and Príncipe Sustainable Tourism Project