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January 2007

Santo Antao, the mountainous island within Cape Verde is still my favourite island to visit, having spent most of my time on the barren landscape of Sal. However on this occasion there had been no rainfall for 3months; some of the grasses had turned yellow, so it was not as green as I had hoped it would be, but non the less its mountains were still dramatic.

This time we booked into the Hotel Bluebell at Ponto do Sol. B&B around 37euros for a single room per night.

I was told to try out two restaurants in Ponto do Sol, one was run by some Senegalese, the other by a French lady. We couldn't find the Senegalese restaurant this time but found the French Restaurant at 'A Beira-Mar' which also has rental apartments. When we arrived they had a party of tourists and the restaurant was nearly full. There were only two choices of meal, either fish or chicken, both were excellent. It was also cheap compared to Sal prices. I will check out the Senegalese place next time.

I would suggest you brought something warm to wear in the evenings at this time of year.

You can get a collective from Ponto do Sol to Ribeira Grande, it is much cheaper than a taxi. You can also get another collective to then take you along the coast to Paul.

At the entrance to Paul, look for another collective to take you up the valley and then bring you back down. Look for collectives that already have some people waiting in them.

The collectives don't run as often as on Sal so check when they operate i.e. in the mornings, then what times they operate frequently in the afternoons, I was told it may be more difficult in the afternoons to find a 'collective'.

If you get a taxi up the valley, agree the return price before you get in, then confirm it again. Even though I did this, as we arrived at the top he told us it was another additional price to take us back down, perhaps it was my poor understanding of the Portuguese language that confused us.

The taxi driver took us back down the valley where we intended to wait for a collective to take us back to Ribeira. He told us that the collectives were now being used to take students finishing school at 5.30p.m. back to Ribeira. We ended up paying him taxi fare to take us back to Ponto do Sol.

The taxi trip from the bottom of the Paul valley to the top, then the return down and across to Ponta do Sol cost us 3,200escudos.

If you stay at the Hotel Bluebell, you can get a collective to take you back to Port Novo to catch the boat back to Sao Vicente. But please confirm whether this is daily and both morning and afternoons. You could also check if this can be organised for you on your arrival on the island so that you can be collected at the Port. This would save you getting off at Ribeira Grande then catching another collective for Porto Novo. Also confirm the price.

A new road is under construction from Porto Novo to Ribeira Grande. Traffic will now be able to reach Ribeira via a new road along the coast between Porto Novo, Janela and Ribeira Grande in a much quicker time. The scenic route will be used for tourist trips as well as a general access route for locals.

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