Santo Antão Island canyoying

Santo Antão is for many the most stunning island of the Cape Verde archipelago: a land of dramatic scenery which is so spectacular it is said to take your breath away. The views from the mountain range which divides what is the second largest of the islands are amongst the most beautiful in the world.

The island, which is the most easterly of the Barvalento isles, is made up entirely of volcanic material which vulcanologists are earnestly watching. Since 1999 the water temperature of the sea off the north coast of the island has been rising, which some believe may indicate the risk of a new eruption in the area.

Measuring a maximum 24km wide and 43km long, Santo Antão is a rectangular mass of pine forests, sheer cliffs and verdant lush valleys, making it the ideal destination for those travellers who are keen to head into the hills for some first class walking. The highest point of the island is Topo de Coroa, the summit of which climbs to 1,979 metres.

Santo Antão was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Diogo Afonso on January 17th 1462. However, it was not until the mid 16th century that it was inhabited by a series of ‘tenants’ who leased the island from the Portuguese Crown. In the 1600s the island was given to the Count of Santa Cruz, whose family tried to mortgage it to the English in 1732 when a wayward son got into trouble.

On more than one occasion the volcanic island of Santo Antão has been referred to as a cross between Morocco and the Himalayas, with its impressive mountain peaks, lush forests and fertile valleys. The island is becoming increasingly popular as a walking holiday destination, and it’s easy to see why. But Santo Antão has many other strings to its bow, the highlights of which include:

Ribeira Grande – the capital town of Santo Antão and where a large number of the population of 50,000 now live. It is located in the a valley which has the same name. The town is a vibrant place which is set around winding colourful lanes, now lined with shops and restaurants.

Porto Novo – the island’s second largest town located in the south east of the island. The town used to be an important port and the relics of its prosperity can still be seen in its former mansions. Visitors are recommended to take a trip along the old road from Porto Novo to Ribeira Grande, which crosses some of the most stunning scenery imaginable. Amongst the most memorable vistas are:

Breathtaking views of the Ribeira do Paúl and the north coast from the Cova de Paúl volcano, at 1,000 metres.

Panoramic views towards Monte Verde on the neighbouring island of São Vicente from the village of Lagoa.

Picturesque views of the village of Corda, where the houses look like they are growing out of the mountain.

Ponto do Sol – a delightful town to the north-west of Ribeira Grande, in the extreme north of the island. Here colourful fishing boats lie on a promontory, which extends into the Atlantic. The Cape Verde’s current president has his second residence in Ponta do Sol, a true testament to its abundant charms.

There are currently plans to build a new domestic airport on Santo Antão, but currently the only way to reach the island is to take a ferry from Mindelo, on São Vicente

The Cape Verde government has great plans for Santo Antão, which is seen as an island with an enormous amount of potential especially in the sector of activity-based tourism.

A new airport to be built near Porto Novo is currently being planned, which according to the Minister of Infrastructures and Transportation Manuel Inocêncio Sousa “demonstrates the government’s acknowledgement of Santo Antão’s potential within the context of national development.” The airport project will cost around 10 million euros, and is being financed by the Portuguese government.

Areas of the island have already benefited from development programmes such as Porto Novo, which is the focus of a 400 million escudos project to develop the urban area of Curraletes, to the west of the town. The works, which include the building of social facilities, telephone utilities and roads, but also better sanitation, water and electricity services, beganin2009.


Santo Antão has developed a name for itself as a destination for serious walking. It is also popular with nature lovers who come to the island to marvel at  thefloraandfauna.


Walking holidays on Santo Antão mainly centre on well organised trails around the colonial town of Ribiera Grande, where local guides take treks through the breathtaking scenery that includes desert, tropical valleys, terraced fields, sugar, coffee and banana plantations, rugged coastlines and striking mountain ridges rising to nearly 5000 feet.

For those adventurers who would rather walk alone, there are a number of detailed hiking tracks which are numbered and correspond to a guide-book that is available online, see our page trekkinn.


The island boasts around 50 canyoning routes, and canyoning enthusiasts claim it to be one of the most exciting undiscovered destinations for their sport in the world. ‘Wet’ canyons with waterfalls tend to be found in the east of the island, around the Paul valley, whilst the dry canyons are found near Lagedos. Experienced guides are available and recommended for all canyon expeditions.

Price 95 per person including transport for 1 day

A very special 6 daysholiday trip with 1day canyoying is only € 995 per person, everything included except drinks and airplaneticket,  you are walking through the mountains and visit all the special places