A new destination for those after a tropical island beach holiday
A beautiful pair of tropical islands off the coast of West Africa, perfect for an off-the-beaten-track bespoke beach holiday.
In the Gulf of Guinea off the equatorial West African coast, Africa’s second smallest country offers a wonderful choice for those after a refreshingly new destination with some exquisite beaches and unspoiled, wild places. A tropical climate means there are lush rainforests inhabited by small wildlife and birds, including some of the world's rarest species. A reminder of former Portuguese occupation, the aesthetically appealing, crumbling buildings in urban centres and on old colonial plantations, which add to the islands' charm.
Of much interest to nature enthusiasts is Obo Natural Park, which receives national protection and was set aside in 2006. Pico Cao Grande, an remarkable, finger-shaped mountain in south-central Sao Tome, rises abruptly to 663 meters. It is the world's tallest volcanic plug and is surrounded by dense equatorial forest, which in turn is listed as one of the world's 200 most important sites of biological significance. (In 1998 biologists classified these forests as the second most significant of 75 forested sites in Africa).
Habitats in the park - which covers a substantial portion of Sao Tome and extends to some of Principe - include lowland and high altitude Atlantic rainforest, mangrove and savanna. Secondary rainforest including abandoned plantations are known as capoeira. Altitude in the park varies from 0 - 1,973m above sea level). Rainfall on average is 2,493mm per anum. Fauna in the park include the very rarely seen West African manatee; endemic birds such as Dwarf olive ibis, Sao Tome short-tail, Giant sunbird, Sao Tome giant weaver, Sao Tome fiscal (critically endangered), Sao Tome oriole, Sao Tome thrush and the enigmatic Sao Tome grosbeak, which managed a disappearing act of some 100 years. Endemic amphibians include Newton's grassland frog, Sao Tome giant reed-frog; Moller's gulf frog and Sao Tome caecilian. You may see Sao Tome leaf-nosed bat.
Because the islands - which are just under an 8 hour flight from Lisbon - are as yet not well known on the international tourist map, you'll never have to worry about crowded beaches. Those interested in marine wildlife can enjoy whale watching or, watching turtles come ashore to lay eggs in season. (Whales visit these waters from July to September while turtles are best observed in December)
Keen naturalists can go on hikes of various grading in dense tropical rainforest on both islands. Diving, whale watching and turtle watching excursions can be arranged; ask us for details.
Our Sao Tome & Principe Island Getaway is a sample itinerary which can be tailored to suit individual interests and special requirements.
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