Fogo Island in Cape Verde, Africa was my 2nd home besides my land, the Philippines. I’ve lived for more than a year and had a chance to experience the beauty of this Island.
I’ve been one of the “locals” and always a tourist, learned their mother tongue, ate their local foods and saw Fogo at its best. I’ll tell you the reasons why tourists always pick the Fogo as the “most interesting” island in Cape Verde.
Here’s my list of 7 Awesome Things to Do in Fogo Island, Cape Verde
1. Sao Filipe
Sao Filipe is the main town of the Fogo Island. Here you can see the most movements of the locals and where the tourist’s first stop. The market, schools, hospital, offices, travel tours and other establishments are easy to find in this small town. It is nice to walk around the town and enjoy the view of old colonial houses. You can also find at the heart of the town, one of the Colonial houses turned hotel called “The Colonial Guest House” that was originally built in 1800 (Portuguese Time).
The owner kept the original house and added modern facilities like swimming pool, spa, Jacuzzi and bar lounge. The whole town will go quiet when the 2:00 in the afternoon comes and will be alive again at 6:00 in the evening. Most of the people in Fogo Island lives at the country side, so once they finish their businesses at the town they will all disappear, and Sao Filipe will be leave in peace and less movement.
2. Swim in Black Beach
Fogo means “Fire” in English because the island has its active volcano and because of some eruptions, their beach has black sands. Locals and tourists enjoy the afternoon time at the beach watching teenager locals playing footballs at the wide black beach. It is truly safe to stay at the beach until night because Sao Filipe is quiet and a small town, people knew each other. At the end of the beach, there’s a restaurant called Tortuga that tourists usually go there and eat while listening to the waves from the beach. You can have the dinner table with reservations only. (Related Article: How to met Locals while Traveling)
3. Hiking the Active Volcano
Tourists come to Fogo Island because of the majestic volcano (Cha das Caldeiras). After roaming around at the town and relax yourself from the past journey, it’s always advisable to go up and visit the Volcano and the vineyard, one hour drive from Sao Filipe. Cha is laying on the top highest point of Fogo Island where the Natural Park or the Volcano will welcome you before entering the villages. The last eruption was in 2014 only.
Tourists can deal with the local tour guides to go up with them to the crater of the volcano. It is necessary to get a local tour guide even the tourists are professional hikers or just beginners. Usually, tourists start to ascend at 5:00 am and come back to the village at 10:00 or 11:00 am to avoid too much heat of the sun once it comes out. To hike the volcano, it usually takes 3-4 hours to hike and reach the crater and 10-30 minutes only to descend back to the village.
4. Roaming around the Chas das Caldeiras Village
At the bottom of the active volcano, you can find the vineyard was also the Fogo Island produces good quality wines and part of the tour is the wine tasting. I love their red wine; it fits for their winter time while during summer the white wine will be better. You can also visit the old local houses that made of rocks and see their history inside the small museum. They also have a couple of small hotels that serve appetizing dishes that will welcome you after hiking up and down the volcano.
There is no electricity at the Cha das Calderias, but the hotels have their generators at night. At night there’s one small convenience store for local drinks, and they have a group of people who play Cape Verdean music, and everybody can dance Zouk. A local experience.
5. More hiking
After the awesome experience of the great Cha das Caldeiras and enjoy the local life, it is nice to continue exploring the Fogo Island by hiking down to Mosteiros from Cha. It is 3 hours hike to the second town of the Island. On the way, you could see the different tall trees and plants. The west side of the island has a rich soil that different plants, vegetables, and fruits can grow during spring time. While hiking, you can also pass their big coffee plantation which I can say the best coffee I’ve tasted, ever! The taste is different, and it is so strong but very smooth to drink. The local says that the mineral from the volcano’s stone and ground soil, it makes the coffee taste good. Until now I can still remember the aroma of the baked coffee beans.
Mosteiros is the second town, and it is located in the south west of the island. Here, there are not many activities unlike in Sao Felipe. But the fresh and different kind of fishes could see at the port of the Mosteiros. From the proper town of Sao Filipe, people can also take the public transport, and it will take 1 and a half hour travel. As I said before, most of the people of Fogo Island lives at the country side so after midday the second town will also be left in peace.
7. Parties, Drinks, Foods, and Friends
Cape Verdeans loves to eat and dance, especially party at night after long day of work. It is nice to go back from where we have started, the main town Sao Filipe. At night especially weekends, there is few lounges, bar, and restaurants open and can enjoy the Fogo Island’s night life. During my stay in Fogo, my friends and I like to do bar hopping. We will drink a couple of beers or shots of grougue then we will move to the next bar. Fogo Lounge usually has a cozy, nice music background and serves different grilled foods like chicken, tuna, and lobsters. Some bars have their danceable music so everyone can dance zouk (yeah I used to dance zouk everytime I go there).
Tourists usually stay longer time in Fogo Island than other islands of Cape Verde. For me, the answer is that Fogo is way interesting; from their people, foods, and views. The towns have different characteristics and traits from what I’ve experienced. The north offers the fantastic volcano and the wide vineyard while the east has their green views with trees and plants, where coffee plantation will be found. South has the main town and colonial houses while the west shows how dry Africa looks like. For 16 months of living on this island, Fogo never fails to amaze me every day, especially every time I visit the Cha das Caldeiras, it is for sure always makes me fall in love to the “Island of Fire”.
About The Writer
Mary Grace Ylagan have lived in Fogo, Cape Verde from March 2011 up to July 2012. She worked in Colonial Guest House and Fogo Lounge Bar (same owner) in Sao Filipe. During her stay in Cape Verde, she had a chance to learn their mother tongue “Creolo”. She traveled to the other islands of Cape Verde during her short holidays from work and realized each island has the different and very interesting characteristic. She has also been to the Maldives, Thailand, and Cambodia. And now she’s exploring her own country, and she is also a freelance portrait photographer. In her journey, she also takes some shots and plays her photographs in Lightroom. Scenery and street photography are her favorite past time on her travels.
Follow her journey on her Instagram.
THIS IS AN ENTRY FOR THE 1ST YEAR ANNIVERSARY TRAVEL WRITING CONTEST OF TWO MONKEYS TRAVEL GROUP
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