We spent most of our time on Principe which was a conservationist’s paradise. The whole territory has been designated by Unesco as a World Biosphere Reserve. The island is fringed with golden sands and palm trees which are the perfect place to relax, and in the centre are Príncipe’s forests which are ideal for hiking in. It is a bird-watchers paradise and Principe’s forests shelter no fewer than eight endemic bird species.
I strongly remember the sound of birds on the island as it was quite remarkable – we were staying right by the beach so you could hear the ocean, but at dawn and dusk, the birdsong was so vivid it almost drowned out the sound of the waves.
Did you see any special birds whilst there?
We were very fortunate, one afternoon as we trekked through the forest, we saw two of the seven endemics – the Príncipe glossy starling, and the Príncipe golden weaver.
Another time, we were stood on a cliff looking down at the pristine Banana Beach and we were treated to a magnificent display of the white-tailed tropicbirds spiralling and swooping far below us.
If you are a ‘birder’, I couldn’t recommend São Tomé and Príncipe highly enough, it is a real utopia.
What was the highlight of your trip?
It was undoubtedly the first night of our trip. We had an incredible stroke of luck whereby our arrival coincided with the hatching of hundreds of turtles.
We spent an evening on Praia Grande Beach watching these little hatchlings clamber out of their nests, which are laid at the top of the beach, sheltered by the palm trees. We watched as the hatchlings propelled themselves across the white sand with their flippers, making a beeline straight for the sea where they disappeared into the water and out of sight. It was a truly remarkable experience and unlike any I have had before.
Tell us about the best meal you had.
We stayed at Sundy Praia Lodge which was an incredibly luxurious tented camp located right between the forest and the beach.
On the final night we had a memorable meal there. A couple of guitarists played whilst we enjoyed a delicious seven-course dinner that was inspired by traditional local dishes and complemented with some fine Portuguese wines. It was very special.
Have you any other tips of things to do?
Take some time in the evenings to lie back and stare at the stars. As the islands are located over 200 miles from the mainland, there is very little light pollution, so the star gazing was out of this world.